By the numbers
Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services
Expenses: $4.9 million (2007), $5.5 million (2008*)
Revenues: $1.4 million (2007), $1.3 million (2008*)
Cost Recovery: 28 percent (2007), 24 percent (2008*)
Source: Draft Parks and Recreation Master Plan
Steamboat Springs A draft Parks and Recreation Master Plan is nearing adoption by local governments, and the city of Steamboat Springs has received a grant to develop a more specific master plan for the rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill.
The parks master plan will serve as a companion document to the Open Space and Trails Master Plan, which was adopted by the city and Routt County last year. Routt County District Court Judge Michael O'Hara ruled last month on a lawsuit brought against the city by Humble Ventures regarding planned trails within the Humble Ranch Education and Therapy Center. The most substantial issue in the suit was decided in the city's favor.
The draft parks plan makes recommendations including establishing park maintenance standards, adding additional playgrounds north of Lincoln Avenue, repairing or replacing the fishing dock at Casey's Pond, expanding the city's trail network and researching additional accesses to the Yampa River. It also recommends the city develop a cost recovery philosophy and policy - the Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services recouped a quarter of its expenses in 2008.
Although the plan has not yet been formally adopted, Director Chris Wilson said the department is getting a head start on another of the draft plan's recommendations, a more focused study on the rodeo grounds. The city has received a $10,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to create the plan, which will be joined by a $5,000 match from the city.
"The feeling is that before we start working on additional grants for improvements, we really need to assess the facility : to give us a context to move forward on," Wilson said. "The last real updates and improvements that were done there were done in the late '80s and early '90s."
Wilson said the city has yet to define a scope of work for the master plan, but he said it will not contemplate alternate uses for the 14-acre rodeo grounds.
"It'll talk about how do you better accommodate the mixed use that we already have there, but it's not contemplating what you might use this site for instead," said Wilson, who said public meetings on the plan will probably start in March.
The Steamboat Springs Rodeo Board, 4-H Club, equestrian enthusiasts, Routt County Cooperative Extension, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and other stakeholders will be consulted throughout the process, Wilson said. Facilities at the 14-acre rodeo grounds include a horse racetrack, a rodeo arena, stock pens, stock chutes, a roping arena, a playground, a grandstand, restrooms, a vending stand, an announcer's booth and bleachers.
Pressing issues in the Humble Ventures lawsuit concerned the city's planned development of Elk Lane Trail along Agate Creek and Humble Ranch and other area residents' beliefs that cycling is not compatible with current uses. Humble Ranch provides therapeutic activities, including horseback riding for people with special needs.
Humble Ranch conveyed a trail easement to the city for "the purpose of providing a trail for public, pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle ingress and egress," according to O'Hara's ruling. The easement states that, "the city also agrees to address and enforce safety issues regarding the passage of bicycles on Elk Lane Trail and to restrict or regulate bicycle access if such use poses a hazard to equestrian and pedestrian traffic.
Humble Ventures officials argued that this issue was "ripe" for adjudication because they and the city disagree about whether bicycle use can be safely accommodated. The city argued that an outright ban is not supported by the easement's "regulate or restrict" provision and that the issue was not ripe because cycling is not yet occurring on the trail.
In ruling in favor of the city, O'Hara cited the minutes of joint meeting between the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 15, 2008, when officials stated that while trail development is contemplated in the master plan, actual development still would be required to go through city and county planning processes.
For more information on the master plans, call Wilson at 879-4300.