Steamboat Springs Construction of a public promenade could begin this summer at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, after a vote Friday to explore financing options.
The base area Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee - a citizens group driving redevelopment of public facilities at the ski base - was cautiously unanimous in embracing the creation of a team to study financing options for the promenade, which would link several developments on either side of Gondola Square.
The committee gave one of its members, attorney David Nagel, the go-ahead with his plan to convene a diverse group of experts in funding public projects.
"I think what this is, is a think tank," Nagel said. "It will have no power at all, but it's an informational think tank."
Nagel undertook his initiative after realizing March 1 that the group might have to mothball its plans to begin work on the promenade indefinitely because of difficult conditions in the financial world. He received permission to form a subcommittee that might be able to give advice about creative funding solutions to allow a portion of the work to go forward this summer.
"I have been in touch with a lot of people from around the state the last two weeks," Nagel said. We're looking for a way to "keep some continuity so we don't have lost opportunity costs."
Based on informal conversations with excavating contractors, Nagel said, one opportunity this summer might be a 15- to 20-percent reduction in the cost of some of the work.
Among the experts tentatively willing to lend advice, Nagel said, is Alan Matlosz, whose work helping governments and special districts with finance issues includes coordinating planning efforts around Denver International Airport.
Attorney Malcolm Murray, who already advises the Steamboat Urban Renewal Authority, is on board, as is Gene Andrist, a financial advisor and former investment banker who has a long track record of helping public entities with finance issues.
Other members include CPA Ken Marchetti, who helped create a metro district in Vail in the 1980s; Wade Gebhardt, of Wells Fargo Bank in Steamboat; Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts; and URAAC members Jane Blackstone, David Baldinger Jr., and Jon Wade, as well as Nagel.
Joe Kracum, project coordinator for the public base area redevelopment, told the committee that should Nagel's effort meet with success, landscaping the new roundabout at AprÃs Ski Way for an estimated $600,000 also could begin this summer. Another possibility is building a new diversion structure and plaza on Burgess Creek. That work would cost an estimated $1.3 million. Building the promenade's connection to the Ski Time Square bus stop would cost another $800,000.
Options also include funding the completion of construction documents for the promenade and creek design at an estimated cost of $750,000. Taking that step would pave the way for construction of the promenade in 2010.
The committee received some encouraging financial news from city officials, who reported that base area projects could see an additional $137,000 in funding in 2009.
The revenue boost was attributed to a reduction in prevailing interest rates in the municipal bond markets, from the budgeted 5.5 percent to 1.5 percent.
Interim City Finance Director Bob Litzau cautioned the committee that interest rates could rise abruptly, as they did last fall. Bond rates are not indexed but determined by the marketplace and updated weekly, Litzau said.