New ideas for Old Town

Meetings focus on downtown improvements

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— As private developers give Lincoln Avenue a facelift, public officials are also working to define the future of downtown - and hoping more of the public gets involved.

On Thursday, the city hosted its second Downtown Streetscape Revitalization meeting to discuss downtown infrastructure improvements with members of the community. Public Works Director Jim Weber said the meeting's goal was to develop a list of ideas for improving the infrastructure and character of downtown, addressing features ranging from trees to benches to banners. The city hired Britina Design Group of Arvada in May to design the city's Downtown Streetscape Improvement Plan, at a cost of $439,000.

"What we're asking the consultants to look at is pretty much everything," Weber said.

At the next public meeting, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, the consultants will bring three to four alternatives for the streetscape plan. At the final public meeting in November, Weber said he hopes to finalize recommendations for the Steamboat Springs City Council.

The streetscape project applies to the area bordered by Yampa Street to the south, Oak Street to the north, Third Street to the east and 13th Street to the west. Weber said the Yampa Street, Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street corridors will be considered separately.

"Each corridor is going to have its own characteristics," Weber said.

Transportation Director George Krawzoff said it is important that the public participate in the process.

"My concern simply is that the community understand how significant this planning is," Krawzoff said. "That's why I'm very anxious that people be aware. All options are on the table right now. People should express themselves."

Krawzoff said the city is working under a tight timeframe for the downtown improvements, due to a Colorado Department of Transportation, or CDOT, plan to repave U.S. Highway 40 through downtown in 2009. Krawzoff said CDOT will switch from asphalt to concrete downtown. Concrete lasts longer, but Krawzoff said the switch also means CDOT will be less willing to make any changes to the road after the switch is complete. This means the streetscape plan must be carried out in conjunction with CDOT's project and that the city must have a plan in place by next year, when bidding for the road project will begin.

Questions about the Down-town Streetscapes Plan should be directed to Weber at 871-8243 or jweber@steamboatsprings.net.

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