Jackie Grimaldi and Larry Guss have helped post signs on many of the trees that line Pine Street in an effort to draw attention to the city's proposed plan to build uniform sidewalks. The problem is that many of the old trees that line the street - in the public right of way - would be cut down for the sidewalk.

Photo by John F. Russell

Jackie Grimaldi and Larry Guss have helped post signs on many of the trees that line Pine Street in an effort to draw attention to the city's proposed plan to build uniform sidewalks. The problem is that many of the old trees that line the street - in the public right of way - would be cut down for the sidewalk.

Pine Street 'up in arms'

Sidewalk proposal continues to incite Old Town residents


— Stirred Old Town residents have risen to the defense of trees threatened by proposed city sidewalks on Pine Street.

In their latest move, several Pine Street residents agreed to have signs hung on trees in their yards that read, "HELP! The city is planning to cut down this tree for a sidewalk."

On Tuesday, 25 of the signs were hung on both sides of Pine Street from Third to Eighth streets - the span for which the city of Steamboat Springs is in the process of designing sidewalks. Jackie Grimaldi and Larry Guss, who own a home in the 300 block of Pine Street, are responsible for the signs, which cost them a little more than $300 to produce.

"All around this block, people are up in arms," said Alie Alexander, who lives at the corner of Seventh and Pine streets and allowed signs to be placed on cottonwood trees in her yard.

The sidewalk project was a hot topic at Steamboat Springs City Council meetings last month.

"It really hit a nerve," Guss said, "and these aren't so-called activist people."

In addition to the potential for lost trees, Pine Street residents believe the proposed 6-foot-wide sidewalks are too large and would destroy the character of their Old Town neighborhood.

"I don't know why we need a 6-foot sidewalk when a 4-foot sidewalk would be good," Grimaldi said. "I'm sure we'll get a sidewalk, and I'm sure we can work with them, but to take down the trees is just total overkill."

The design work is being guided by the city's master plan for sidewalks, which proposes uniform sidewalks throughout the city. City officials have noted the expense that would be associated with tailor-made sidewalks, but Guss opposes the uniform approach.

"It looks like somebody in city planning put a straight edge down Pine Street," he said.

Grimaldi and Guss said they felt blindsided by the sidewalk proposal at a public meeting last month, while city officials maintain that the project is in its infancy.

"Some of the residents are concerned about the existing trees," City Engineer Janet Hruby said. "In response to that, the city has done an evaluation of the trees with our arborist to identify which trees are healthy, which trees are in questionable health - which there were a few - and then which trees are maybe healthy or in questionable health but have limbs that are maybe a safety risk.

"We're evaluating that information now and working on a redesign that will keep the healthy trees and maybe replant and replace the ones that are unhealthy that we would be removing."

Grimaldi and Guss sent a letter to City Manager Alan Lanning with signatures from about 40 people who oppose the funding and construction of the sidewalk. The two also have appealed to the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Commission.

"We should be preserving the aesthetics of Old Town," Guss wrote in a letter to the commission. "But, in my opinion, ribbons of concrete do not fit that philosophy."

City officials have noted the paradox of the controversy on Pine Street when the sidewalk master plan was developed because there was community consensus that more sidewalks are needed in Steamboat. Many Pine Street residents acknowledge the competing interests.

Don Karr, who lives in the 700 block of Pine Street across from the temporary location of Soda Creek Elementary School, said it is a shame children don't have sidewalks to walk on, but said they just don't make sense on Pine Street.

"There's two sides of it, but I don't want to see a sidewalk," said Karr, who has one of the signs affixed to a cottonwood in his front yard. "We like the trees."

Sitting with her young son amongst the cottonwoods in her yard Tuesday morning, Alexander said she is in an awkward position: she doesn't want to lose the trees, but she also would like her son - and another child on the way - to benefit from the safety of sidewalks.

"I think there's a way they can have the sidewalks and the trees," Alexander said. "I'd like to have them both, but I'm not sure how that could happen."

Given their neighbors' response, Grimaldi and Guss may purchase more signs. The sidewalk proposal also involves 12th Street, but Grimaldi said she ran out of signs before she could put them on that street as well.

"Not one person said no," Grimaldi said. "We have not had one negative response to the signs."

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord was at a loss Friday to respond to the signs and continued to stress that the city is in its early design phase.

"I honestly don't know how to respond to that," she said.

DuBord noted that the signs, which were hung using large metal staples, probably aren't healthy for the trees Guss and Grimaldi aim to save.

"The ones that were sick might get sicker," she said.


nxoby36 9 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe I'm saying this " SAVE THOSE TREES ! " We need to preserve some semblance and character of the real Steamboat Springs . We sure aren't doing it on Lincoln Ave. ! Those trees also add a great amount to the property value of these homes . If I were one of the home owners I would sue the city for the replacement value of any tree that was cut down .


another_local 9 years, 4 months ago

How about putting sidewalks on roads that are dangerous for walking and have a lot of traffic on them first? All along Walton Creek Road? Village Drive south of Walton Creek Road comes to mind. Oh, but those are not in Old Town where all money must be spent.


Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 4 months ago

Don't tear down those trees!!! The 90yr old historic house is okay to demolish, but not that tree!!!


go1rockies 9 years, 4 months ago

Why no just bulldoze the whole neighborhood and build some high end lofts? Of course with the promise to add some affordable units.


Scott Wedel 9 years, 4 months ago

Anyone doubt the city hired arborist will find most are sick? Or that instead of trying hard to make the sick trees well that they'll cut them down?

Helpful of Wendy DuBord to care about the damage done by putting a staple into tree bark. If that concerns her then presumably she will personally promise that no part of putting in sidewalks will do more damage to any tree than using a staple to hold a sign.

The idea that a sidewalk must be 6 feet wide is the same sort of government uber alles mentality that lost the last election for the incumbents. A 4 foot sidewalk is fine for a residential neighborhood since they'll be minimal simultaneous two way traffic.

The obvious thing to do is build a 4 foot sidewalk between the trees. And then decide each time whether to build around the tree or just simply leave a gap. People are smart enough to walk around a tree and having 95% of a sidewalk is a whole lot better than 0%. When the tree eventually dies then put in that little section of sidewalk.


summerbird 9 years, 4 months ago

Pine Street people might want to save the trees, but maybe the bottom line is: they will be responsible for keeping the sidewalks clear in the winter. Do you think they want that extra work?
What about real curbs and parking spaces in Pine Street? Vehicles stick out so far on the corners, you can't see oncoming traffic when you try to cross Pine!


Oscar 9 years, 4 months ago

This city is simply chasing after that big city mentality - cut down the beautiful old trees so they can pave over more land. Hopefully someone in authority with some common sense will weigh in on this trees vs. concrete nonsense. When was the last time someone got injured because there was no sidewalk on Pine Street?


raver 9 years, 4 months ago

why do we need sidewalks? seems to me that walking on the roads works just fine


addlip2U 9 years, 4 months ago

Trees - provide privacy, emphasize views, or screen out objectionable views. They reduce glare and reflection. They direct pedestrian traffic. They provide background and soften, complement, or enhance architecture.

Trees improve air quality. Leaves filter the air we breathe by removing dust and other particulates. Rain then washes the pollutants to the ground. Leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the plant's structure and function. In this process, leaves also absorb other air pollutants-such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide-and give off oxygen.

Trees are on the job 24 hours every day working for all of us to improve our environment and quality of life.

How many times have you seen pedestrians forced off a sidewalks due to too many pedestrian on it?

SAVE the trees, work around them and stick to 4' sidewalks.


oofcboy 9 years, 4 months ago

cart paths go around trees why cant side walks go around and then landscape them adding color to your little neighbor hood.cutting down the trees is asking for trouble from a disgrunteld home owner.I would not stand for it for one second!Paladen.


dimwitiguess 9 years, 4 months ago

Let's uglify the whole town and cut down every tree. Don't ask me to plant trees on Arbor Day or Earth Day or any other day. So much for Steamboat winning a tree planting award a few years ago.


Tom Whiddon 9 years, 4 months ago

The way that Old Town is platted means that some of the residents along Pine St will loose their off street winter parking bacause that is where the sidewalk will go. The lots are actually two lots, one facing Pine and the other facing the alley. In many cases different people own one but not the other. The City will take away the only parking these people have. What will that do to their property values? The City needs to focus on uncompleted projects such as burying the powerlines in the downtown commercial district. They also should put sidewalks along Oak and Yampa where we want people to walk and spend money. Just look at how responsible the City is with sidewalks. They knew that they would have to replace the sewer line between Stockbridge and Shield Drive but they put a sidewalk in on the bike path only to tear it out two years later and replace it. It's clear that the water department doesn't communicate with Parks and Rec. What a waiste of money. The City needs to refocus on what is really needed and leave the trees and off street parking alone on Pine St.


canudigit 9 years, 4 months ago

I like the idea of having more sidewalks. BUT it seems that there are so many other places that need to have sidewalks that don't involve cutting down trees. I think the city has WAY too many sidewalks that go nowhere!!. Like the small section on hilltop parkway. I know new builders have to put in the sidewalks but, what is the plan for linking these up to something. The city should spend money to connect up the sidewalks we already have to hwy 40 or the bike path before they start cutting down trees.


stompk 9 years, 4 months ago

Anybody ever play SimCity? Trees make property values go up. Steamboat still has character because it is not "uniform"

Why do people who move here from the city, insist on bringing the city with them. In due time, we will be a city. Do we have to rush. Is there not enough jobs, and condos for the tourists?

Maybe they should have a copy of the game at the planning dept.


downtowndude 9 years, 4 months ago

Think how wide Pine Steet will look with trees cut down and sidewalks added. It seems like Pine Street is wide enough already that they could put the sidewalk on the outside of the street and add a curb to that side next to the sidewalk. It would make the street narrower, but it would look better and the trees would remain.


dimwitiguess 9 years, 4 months ago

Two lanes have been cut to one by the Soda Creek modulars between 7th and 8th, and it has made much of a difference. Take some of the street to put in a sidewalk when the modulars are gone. Leave the trees. Uglify somewhere else - maybe near the ski area.


jeannie berger 9 years, 4 months ago

I have a question for the folks on Pine street that are upset about maybe losing trees. Are the trees on the city right of way or are they actually on the property of the home owners? Some of the trees that have signs on them look to be inside of fence lines and it made me wonder how the city could presume to cut down trees on private property to install sidewalks. On the other hand if the trees are on city property then it looks like some folks are using city right of way as personal property.
For those that thinks the roads are plenty wide enough so that sidewalks and curbs and gutters could be added in the roadway, I disagree. When we have the major snowfalls that narrow the width of the roads in town, we need all of that width to keep the roads safe.


STEMBOATwannabe 9 years, 4 months ago

An arborist will find something wrong with almost any tree. It will not matter how old the tree is. But the degree of disease is what will have to be weighed. Is the tree a threat to nearby trees? Are the roots growing into the water or sewer lines?

Is the City willing to replace each tree it cuts down with enough other trees to equal the caliper of the tree cut down??

Also how many feet from the center of the street is considered city property?


Zac Brennan 9 years, 4 months ago

It seems to me that Oak St is mostly commercial and generates more foot traffic than Pine St. Why is the city targeting the primarily residential street? Not to mention Yampa Street. Let Jim Cook buy the sidewalks.....


bubba 9 years, 4 months ago

Dreamriver- it is pretty common practice in this town to build a fence on the city ROW, and then call what's behind it 'mine,' even though the city owns several feet back from the pavement in most cases. I can't comment on pine street specifically, but I would guess the city owns the property in question- otherwise, they would be trying to enact a regulatory taking of several people's land all at once, which would certainly generate more news and opinions than cutting down a few trees would.


inmate2007 9 years, 4 months ago

In Boulder (I know "5 square miles surrounded by reality") there was just a case of property owners taking unused property by adverse possession. Since the residents of the street are obviously enjoying the ROW has the city given up the rite to control it?


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