Our View: Patience needed downtown

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— It is no surprise that downtown construction is presenting challenges for the city of Steamboat Springs and its residents.

However, describing it as a "war zone" - as Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord did last week- might be stretching things a bit.

We view the ongoing construction as short-term pain that will produce long-term gain. With several major public and private projects scheduled to begin this year, we knew sometime back that this would be a summer like no other downtown. We expected the worst.

Still, the work will be worth it. The projects under way - The Victoria, Alpenglow, the Olympian, Howelsen Place, the Boathouse, the library expansion, Soda Creek Elementary and Old Town Hot Springs - are welcome additions that will vastly change downtown for the better. In the long run, existing downtown businesses will reap rewards from the current construction that will greatly outweigh the inconveniences they are suffering now.

The downtown construction issue came to a forefront in the past week. Steamboat Springs City Councilman Ken Brenner complained that the Howelsen Place project is negatively impacting downtown businesses and streetscapes in the midst of summer tourism. He said chain-link fences around construction sites should be covered. Councilman Towny Anderson said sites need to be cleaned better.

Asphalt shortages and "miscommunication" have led to loose gravel on city roadways, city officials and contractors agreed.

In the short term, the city plans to take a strong stand on enforcement, DuBord said. As part of the planning process, contractors agree to abide by construction site management plans. Those plans cover such things as cleanliness of the site, staging construction, rights of way, parking and equipment storage. DuBord said city officials are meeting with downtown contractors Thursday to review the site plans and inform those contractors that the city will be diligent in enforcing the plans. DuBord said strict enforcement - "No more warnings," she said - is necessary given the level of construction. She said the city has received numerous complaints, primarily from downtown businesses, about parking, dust, noise and alley obstructions stemming from downtown construction.

"To have these projects all go forward at the same time really is a big impact to the community," DuBord said, "and it's our job to mitigate those impacts as best we can."

DuBord said the city is prepared to issue "stop work" orders if necessary.

We hope it doesn't come to that.

Strict enforcement of construction site management plans is warranted, and it is appropriate for the city to meet with contractors to review the issues and warn them of the strict enforcement policy. Surely, contractors are prepared to comply, and the city will act within reason.

Here's hoping issues can be resolved without having to delay any of the projects. That simply worsens the problem.

We are excited about the transformation of downtown and believe it will pay dividends in the long run for the community as a whole. But, as we are seeing, getting there requires a little patience and understanding on all sides.

Comments

Gadfly 7 years, 4 months ago

It is inconceivable that no one in the Planning Department, Planning Commission, or City Council ever looked at a map of the City and noticed that all of these development permits should not be granted for the same summer construction season! What ever happened to common sense? The buck (and development permit) stops at City Council, which has made one almighty mess of this building frenzy.

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housepoor 7 years, 4 months ago

It might be better to suffer through this summer then dragging these project over the next 5 years

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Zac Brennan 7 years, 4 months ago

It's easy to support all the downtown construction seeing as how the Pilot office is not downtown. Living out at the west end smoothes one's day too, eh? Scott.

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dave reynolds 7 years, 4 months ago

Steamboat is losing its soul..its all about the weathy and what they want..spoken to several Generation long locals who are appaulled at whats goin on..nice legacy City Council

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Brian Watterson 7 years, 4 months ago

Keep in mind that many locals are not "excited" about the town they grew up loving being significantly altered. I sincerely hope everything works out for the best, but time will tell just who cashes in on those so called "dividends".

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dimwitiguess 7 years, 4 months ago

It is quite clear that "money" is moving into Steamboat. What concerns me most is the ultimate change taking place.I am not sure what kinds of shops and boutiques are going to come into the downtown area, but it is hard to imagine that they will truly benfit us residents. I am especially concerned that they will be highend retail similar to Aspen. I have always bought locally, for gifts, and necessities because I know our present retailers on main street need to make a living too. I will continue that if affordable shops come in. An interesting thing has occurred this summer though - there are only two places where you can buy a bottle of water downtown and absolutely no convenience stores now that Gofer is gone. Isn't there any concern about convenience items, snacks, water, etc. on our main street. After a certain hour, you have to get in the car and drive to a convenience store outside of downtown to find something open. I'm concerned, but then again, I'm just a dimwitiguess.

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Zalobar 7 years, 3 months ago

The westland park sale and development thereof has been under debate since 1991. It was a hot topic in council when Mary Brown was presiding. It took I cant even count the ##s of years to finally give up a demo permit for the old Harbor hotel. If officials hadnt dragged their feet for so long undecided, trying to avoid the inevetable the Howelson place and River walk would have been done deals years ago. Same with community center, library, justice center, etc. etc. Now its all coming at once. Will the 700 development be met with the same delays? Im sure that project can be phased in to address most if not all environmental concerns. They are talking about a 20 year project. But if infrastructure isnt phased in at the same time to handle the traffic growth and extra demands on water, sewer, police, fire and rescue, schools, bus routs, etc. Then our officials have indeed failed us. Like selling the 3rd. st. right of way. Also Making downtown suffer the construction traffic running to and from the ONLY gravel and concrete supplies which are west of town while the mountain area is developing everywhere just like down town. Wild Horse, One Stmbt Place, Ski Time Square, Trappeurs 5 and 6. Black Hawk, Bear Claw. Sun Ray Meadows, Sheraton Golf, Porches, Village expansion. $16Million in On Mt. improvements. All the Mega Trophy homes, What did I miss? Future rec. center in ski town park? No gravel south of town? Just the added diesel carbon foot print alone should dictate that there needs to be closer gravel and concrete supplies to the mountain area. Is no one even a little bit concerned about what the melting glaciers in Greenland are telling us. Where are the outraged environmentalist Dems. on these issues? Who is so powerfull there, So.S.S. they can scuttle any plans for a reasonable distance to supplies for construction while putting the excessive construction traffic burden on everyone from Walton ck. rd. to Milner? But we must be carefull what we wish for. A wise man recently said, "If it weren't for construction traffic, there wouldnt be ANY - traffic".

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nxoby36 7 years, 3 months ago

How the hell do these idiots think we built their dam homes & roads ? if they don't like it then tell them to get hell out of town and go back to the over crowded stink holes they came from and quit whining like the bunch of babies they are ! they don't belong here anyway !

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spukomy 7 years, 3 months ago

Zalobar, you're hitting on all cylinders. Why hasn't "traffic" for The 700 been adressed? And what a mistake not having a gravel pit south of SBS has become. There's some serious short-sightedness by those we elected, and what we voted for. Maybe we can do better next time.

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peevla 7 years, 3 months ago

This debacle has been brought about by short sighted city council members who, back in the late Eighties, ignored the recommendations of a Boulder based growth study concerning the need for a bypass around the town of Steamboat Springs. Do the powers that be wish to wait for the town to more greatly resemble Breckenridge before seeking that such an option be pursued and preserved? Breck's bypass was completed this summer, they tell me.

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