Steamboat Springs Construction near Ski Time Square and Torian Plum Plaza is digging up utility lines in unexpected places, knocking out Internet service for businesses and creating costly delays in the already slow shoulder season.
Eric Dargevics, owner of Mountain Capital/Cherry Creek Mortgage in Torian Plum, said his business has lost Internet service five times in the past three weeks.
"All of our business is driven by online activity," Dargevics said. "We e-mail closing documents, we wire money : it's a serious issue, because everybody is Web-based these days."
Dargevics told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday that even temporary loss of Internet service could cost area businesses "millions of dollars." Dargevics and several base area business owners asked the council to approve funding for temporary wireless Internet service, along with portable air conditioners for businesses that cannot open windows because of construction dust.
Joe Kracum is the project coordinator for the multi-year, $23 million redevelopment project at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Kracum acknowledged Thursday that utility lines have turned up in places that don't match utility documents.
"You just never know what you're going to find when you dig underground," Kracum said. "It's no different than any other job I've worked on : Every time we've had a problem, Comcast has come right out and fixed it."
Kracum said he will discuss funding for temporary Internet service at today's meeting of the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee in Centennial Hall. The committee advises the City Council on base area issues.
Timm Harmon, owner of the Rocky Mountain Peddler store and Health Care Credit Line in Torian Plum, also is feeling the crunch from cut utility lines. Harmon said his telephone service relies on the Web through the use of a computerized digital phone system.
"When the Internet service goes down, I'm out of business - no one can reach me," Harmon said. "For us, that presents a major problem : we've had to jump in the car, run home and try to set up there so we're not losing business."
Lynne Bier, owner of the Home on the Range retail store, praised the efforts of Kracum and his crews.
"I think the construction guys have been very proactive about marking things and responding to concerns. I think they have done a very good job for what's going on up there," Bier said Thursday. "This is the shoulder season anyway - we're one of the few businesses open this time of the year. I think we just have to market really well.
The City Council approved more than $200,000 in additional base area construction funding Tuesday, primarily for new design work and wetlands permits.
At a meeting June 19, the City Council will consider an additional funding request of $773,000, primarily to fund a realignment of the Burgess Creek culvert. Re-grading of slopes at Steamboat Ski Area is changing plans to daylight the creek, a project scheduled to begin this summer.
"We're working with (Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.) right now to get it re-priced and redesign the location of it," Kracum said about the culvert.