Cho Schram makes her way down Pine Street in Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. Proposals to increase sidewalk connections in the city have raised concerns from Old Town residents.

Photo by Brian Ray

Cho Schram makes her way down Pine Street in Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. Proposals to increase sidewalk connections in the city have raised concerns from Old Town residents.

Proposals for Pine, 12th streets draw criticism

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— Seemingly innocent efforts by the city of Steamboat Springs to increase sidewalk connections throughout the city have created a controversy with Old Town residents who don't want sidewalks in front of their homes.

In public meetings with city staff, residents on Pine and 12th streets have expressed concerns about proposed sidewalks, including that they would require the removal of old trees and hurt the character of Old Town.

The sidewalk project was a hot topic at the last two Steamboat Springs City Council meetings and prompted significant public comment and council deliberation. Old Town residents expressed concerns that they have been left out of the process, and city officials stress that the sidewalk proposal is in its infancy.

"We are in preliminary design," Public Works Director Jim Weber said. "We had to get at least to that point before we could meet with the property owners."

The design work is being guided by the city's master plan for sidewalks, which proposes uniform sidewalks throughout the city. Some Old Town residents are calling for the sidewalks to be individually tailored to different neighborhoods. That idea has received support from some City Council members, but it could be costly.

"It's about examining how you're spending your money and making sure you have some consistency for the community," said City Manager Alan Lanning, who has noted that it would be expensive to alter sidewalk designs for different neighborhoods.

At last week's City Council meeting, Old Town residents commented on a City Council moratorium on the demolition of structures deemed historic while a citizens committee reviews the city's historic preservation ordinance. The residents said it was hypocritical for the city to pass that moratorium in the name of community character and then propose formulaic sidewalks.

"There is no way that a one-size-fits-all approach to sidewalks fits the character of every neighborhood of Steamboat Springs," Old Town resident Sarah Catherman said.

Others expressed a distaste for potentially having to maintain sidewalks in front of

their homes.

"It's going to put a tremendous burden on people - including people like us who can't do it ourselves anymore," said Barb DeVries, who lives in a 98-year-old house on Pine Street. DeVries said she and her husband are retired and living on fixed incomes.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said it's ironic the sidewalk proposal has caused so much controversy. She said the sidewalk master plan was developed because there was a community consensus that more sidewalks are needed in Steamboat.

"This is your classic example of 'no good deed goes unpunished,'" Councilman Ken Brenner told the crowd at Centennial Hall at last week's City Council meeting.

In the end, city officials say some sort of compromise is likely, if the sidewalks are built at all.

"I just think people are well ahead of the curve here," Lanning said. "I think what we should do is design every potential sidewalk in town according to the master plan. That doesn't mean they'll get built."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

rodcarew 7 years, 1 month ago

It's high time the city shows its commitment to alternative transportation by spending the required dollars on sidewalks. Developers have built their share, but the City hasn't kept up its end of the bargain. If we truly want to affect a change in transportation patterns in this community, a complete sidewalk system is fundamental and that will never happen without the city's contribution.

I agree with the woman commenting in the article about the City being sensitive to historic architecture, but then consider removing street trees. The City should make the commitment that every effort be made to preserve the street trees. If that costs more, then that's just the cost of doing things the right way. Despite what the city manager thinks.

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steamboatcitizen 7 years, 1 month ago

Sidewalks are a must. What better way to improve the traffic congestion downtown? If sidewalks are provided we all can walk more and drive less.

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lovetheboat 7 years, 1 month ago

I am a homeowner on Pine in the area where the proposed sidewalks are going in. I agree 100% that a sidewalk down Pine would be beneficial to the community. My concern is that the proposed 6 foot side walk set 16 feet back from the center line of Pine, will literally cut my front yard in half. When the plows come by in the winter, I will be faced with not only removing the snow from the sidewalk but from the plow pile up as well. In addition 6 feet is the standard size of a bike path. I have small children and would not like to have people flying down the path on a bike while they are playing in their front yard. I would support a 4 foot sidewalk being built against the roadway for pedestrian use.

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zirkel 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree that sidewalks in Old Town are a good thing, especially if already mandated by a community-approved plan.

I'd like to hear clarification from Public Works if sidewalk locations are proposed solely within the public right of way. If that's the case, I don't have much sympathy for property owners complaining about a sidewalk splitting their front yard, especially if that front yard is in the City's ROW.

I also think that the PW should compromise on sidewalk width (4' instead of 6') to better mimic the (historical) size of many existing sidewalks within OT.

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rodcarew 7 years, 1 month ago

Good clarification, zirkel, on the location of the sidewalk. I agree with you, if its in the ROW, which it ;robably will be, then the land being "lost" isn't their's to begin with.

I would suggest 5' instead of 4' as 4' is not wide enough for two adults to walk side by side.

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agentofchange 7 years, 1 month ago

The first thing the new City Council should do is fire Allan Lanning!

What a first class Bureaucrat! Expensive? It's our money. Yes, Expensive! Oak and Pine, maybe. This guy wants Old Town in total.

Wendy DuBord relates to the "community consensus" ? What consensus ? I don't remember voting on this. These Bureaucrats are truly full of themselves.

What about traffic? Alan (I'll spend your money) Lanning should be up all night figuring out what to to do with traffic on the west side of Steamboat. No, he wants to replat Old Town with sidewalks. Go away!

Then there is Mr. Brenner! My gosh Ken and Allen, If you want the City or the residents (property owners) to pay for sidewalks, have an election. This is a referendum State after all... FAT CHANCE.

Oh speaking of electiions (God bless America) Bye Bye...Susan, Towney, and Karen!! Bye Bye.

New Council... Fire Lanning, First Thing!

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trollunderthebridge 7 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if the City is planning a sidewalk across Towny's front lawn off Pine Street!

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slow_rider 7 years, 1 month ago

That would NEVER happen. Surely a historic structure as Towny's residence would surely be exempted from any controversial sidewalk plan....otherwise we would need an emergency moratorium - right?

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inmate2007 7 years, 1 month ago

Agent do you think that City Council is going to give Lanning a Howell style contract soon? That is what any good bureaucrat strives for.

And stop harping about the traffic bottle neck west of town. When gridlock happens it's an excuse to stop downtown, shop, have a bit to eat and enjoy happy hour. How else do you explain the increase in sales tax downtown this summer?

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Getitright 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand why the city is starting with sidewalks on Pine St. Yampa and Oak St. make more sense. That is where we want people walking and spending money. The city wants to put in 6' sidewalks, remove over 30 mature trees, many of them Spruce, the state tree. Then they plow snow onto these sidewalks and expect the property owners to clear the snow. The property owner then must accept liability and replacement cost when the sidewalks crack from freezing and thawing. There are many small homes that would not be able to utilize current off street parking because the 6' sidewalks will take that away. Paint bike lanes on Pine St. It won't cost so much. But then the city loves to throw money away.

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