A Steamboat Springs Police Department patrol car idles in Ski Time Square early Friday morning as Officer Scott Middleton questions witnesses after an incident near the Tugboat Grill & Pub.

Photo by Brian Ray

A Steamboat Springs Police Department patrol car idles in Ski Time Square early Friday morning as Officer Scott Middleton questions witnesses after an incident near the Tugboat Grill & Pub.

Uniting downtown

Mainstreet wants to get residents, businesses talking



Steamboat Springs Police Officer Scott Middleton speaks with witnesses after an incident early Friday morning in Ski Time Square.

The formula for the future of downtown Steamboat Springs is pretty clear: more residences will equal more people. More people will equal more cars. More people and more cars are likely to equal more entertainment, noise and traffic.

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs has its own formula to address these issues: more dialogue.

The group plans to use materials from the nonprofit Responsible Hospitality Institute to get people talking after ski season and "before it gets crazy" for summer, Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said.

"I really want this to be a collaborative project and a positive process," Barnett said. She said she'd like to get businesses, residents and others involved in the discussion.

A development boom is well under way downtown. Several complexes are going up between Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street, including Alpenglow and Howelsen Place, which Jim Cook is developing.

"Downtown will be an exciting place to be," Cook said. "With that brings some growing pains."

Current residents said they have had problems with parking and noise, particularly associated with restaurants and bars.

"We want people to enjoy eating and drinking downtown, but they can't act a fool," said Paul Montoya, who lives on the first floor of the Residences of Old Town across from Sunpie's Bistro on Yampa Street. He said he has had to ask people outside to quiet down late at night.

Mike Miller, one of Sunpie's owners, said the restaurant hasn't heard from neighborhood residents. He said he would be open to talking about any issues that arise.

"We try to keep a pretty good lid on it," Miller said about noise from customers. "We want to be good neighbors, just like everybody else."

Barnett said it was important for people heading downtown to realize the value of entertainment and restaurants - and to know what to expect in a more urban environment.

"There's conflict on both sides; it's not the big bad restaurants that are the problem," she said. "If you move into this district, you need to understand that this sort of thing will be going on."

Past conflicts

Issues have surfaced between late-night establishments at Ski Time Square and people staying at the Torian Plum, Steamboat police Capt. Joel Rae said.

He said incoming downtown businesses, particularly those that will have music, should plan for the noise and be sure to adequately soundproof their establishments. But there often will be patrons leaving bars and restaurants between 1 and 2 a.m., Rae said.

"What we ended up doing in Ski Time Square when we were going through noise complaints is we'd have one to two officers there from 1:15 in the morning till those

bar crowds would disperse," he said. "But it's kind of hard when you have 50 to 75 people laughing, yelling and having fun - it's difficult to say, 'Could you please keep it down here?'"

The city's municipal code has this to say: "No person shall recklessly engage in, or be responsible for, conduct which is so loud that it materially interferes with or disrupts another individual in the conduct of lawful activities at such individual's home." That section of code

does not apply to special events, however, many of which take place downtown - the rodeo, festivals and parades, for example.

People have the right to not have their peace disturbed at any time of day, Rae said.

At the same time, he said, a little research could go a long way toward preparing downtown homeowners for their environment.

"I think that is their responsibility as property owner," Rae said. "If they think they're going to be buying a condo that's right above or right next door to a clothing store that closes at 7, it's a lot different from being right above or right next door to a nightclub. Doing their homework could alleviate some potential problems."

Kenny and Holly Day, who live on the first floor of the Residences of Old Town, said they expected to deal with downtown's noise, traffic and parking issues when they moved in. The two said they love the convenience of living near the Yampa River and Howelsen Hill.

They watch the skiers on the hill while eating breakfast, Holly Day said, and Kenny said they head across the street in the summer to tube down the river.

"You can walk anywhere you want to go, and there are all these great events," Kenny Day said.

Holly Day described the parking squeeze as a "bummer." Old Town residents get one parking space per unit, the Days said, which means some juggling is required when there are two cars.

Parking is an ongoing issue, Cook said, citing figures indicating that employees of downtown businesses use 1,800 of the 2,800 available public parking spaces.

"That is the axis of the problem," he said, adding that the issue will not go away as more businesses and events hit downtown.

Getting a jump-start

Allison Harnden, vice president of the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute, praised Barnett's group for taking on the issue early in the game.

"Mainstreet Steamboat Springs really should be commended for acknowledging that they're on that path and doing something beforehand," she said. "It's so much easier to plan ahead than to try to turn back the clock."

Harnden suggested getting a variety of groups involved in the dialogue. She cited a situation in Scottsdale, Ariz., where art galleries open during the day were affected by trash left over by the late-night crowd.

"I would just say that you might be surprised at the number of people who have an interest in the outcome of this," she said.


another_local 9 years, 1 month ago

People who move into the center of downtown accross the street from bars should be able to figure out what is up. I hope no one is spending more money on consultants and studies to figure this out.


mtnkids 9 years, 1 month ago

parking has been aproblem for years downtown, yet so much development has been able to pay a fee rather than provide parking. Why hasn't this been addressed? Why not a second level at the corner of yampa and 8th with access to the second level through the alley? You could use all that fee money.


WZ 9 years, 1 month ago

An article is written with a discussion about downtown noise and there's no mention of the train whistles that blow repeatedly through out the day and middle of the night?!

I lived downtown on the river for over a decade. That train noise is the number one complaint that I had. (That, and the bi-weekly, repeated, sub par, red necked jokes, antics and commentary coming from the rodeo grounds every single Friday and Saturday during the Summer while attempting to enjoy the "tranquility" of the Yampa river - or just taking a dump in the bathroom!)

The repeated blares of the train whistle as it approaches the 5th and 13th St. intersections, and the ensuing 2 minutes of clanking and screeching of metal and wheels on the tracks is enough to question one's sanity. Phone conversations have to be suspended. I've even had guests spring up from deep sleep like a dead corpse at 2:00 am to the sound of a train whistle seemingly running through the bedroom

These new $1,000/sqft "residents" are in for a rude awakening, literally.

I got one thing to say..... earplugs. ;)


sickofitall 9 years, 1 month ago

lmao, these clowns move next door to a frackin bar and complain about noise?? What part did I miss? Oh, never mind the train that comes through town all day/night!


almostlocal 9 years, 1 month ago

One would think anyone who moves into an urban area with bars and restaurants would expect there to be noise, just like if you move into a home on or near the railroad tracks that you would expect to hear the train at all times of the day and night. That should not be news to anyone. The city law banning smoking indoors certainly contributes to the noise outside - especially when smoking is not allowed in the backyard of Sunpies so all smokers have to go out front and then are standing directly across the street from the Residences. I applaud the smoking ban, but find it strange that you can't smoke in a backyard of an establishment - which would sure cut down on the noise out front. The people on Ski Time Square don't have to worry for long though, soon it will be a nice quiet ghost town - until the construction starts. Then there will be plenty more to complain about!


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