City explores urban renewal expansion

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— The city's advisory committee for public improvements at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area has unanimously recommended a boundary expansion of the urban renewal authority. The URA funds projects such as last year's construction of a roundabout on Ski Time Square Drive, this year's construction of a roundabout at Mount Werner Circle and AprÃs Ski Way and a planned promenade around the edge of the immediate ski base.

The recommendation was presented Tuesday to the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority. The URA's current boundaries extend as far west as the Wildhorse Meadows and The Porches developments. The Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Commission, or URAAC, wants to extend that boundary west along Mount Werner Road to its interchange with U.S. Highway 40.

Redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum said the expansion would allow the URA to improve the arrival experience of visitors to the ski area with signage and wayfinding improvements. Malcolm Murray, the city's consultant attorney for matters involving the URA, said such an expansion could be accomplished without the same lengthy and controversial process that created the URA in the first place - so long as it only includes property in the public right-of-way.

"I can confidently tell you that's a minor amendment," Murray said. "It's a fairly simple process."

Within its base area boundaries, the URA receives property and sales taxes above a base amount to repay the bonds it issues to finance projects.

"The major amendment would be if you were to include private property," Kracum said.

In a letter to council, Murray wrote that a major amendment would require "the same procedural steps as the original adoption of the urban renewal plan including an impact report to the county commissioners, review by the planning commission and a public hearing before City Council after notice to all owners, tenants, etc."

"We don't want to do that," City Council President Loui Antonucci said.

Also Tuesday, Kracum provided council with an update on this year's URA project. Kracum said the project is on schedule and within budget, though some excavated material is not acceptable for re-use, as was anticipated.

In a letter to council, Kracum wrote that these overruns were so far within a contingency budget. The work, which has forced the closure of AprÃs Ski Way between Mount Werner Circle and Village Drive until June 27, is scheduled for completion in mid-September.

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