Our View: A creative way to help Howelsen Hill


Editorial Board, August through December 2010

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Rich Lowe, community representative
  • Sue Birch, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Thank goodness for the lottery, especially during difficult economic times like these.

The city of Steamboat Springs received final approval last week from Great Outdoors Colorado on $1.5 million in grants to kick-start Phase 3 of improvements at Howelsen Hill as well as finalize the purchase of 580 acres of land from Lyman Orton.

GOCo, created through a citizens initiative and approved by state voters in 1992, uses a portion of lottery proceeds to help preserve, protect, enhance and manage parks, rivers, trails and other open spaces.

Given last week’s windfall for Steamboat, residents and officials ought to feel as though we won the lottery.

Of the $1.5 million, $900,000 are for two Howelsen Hill-specific projects — the construction of a K38 ski jump that can be used year-round and lighting improvements that will allow young skiers and riders to use more of Howelsen’s features into the evening.

The jump and the lights make up a significant portion of planned Howelsen Hill upgrades. A committee of dedicated residents has been working in earnest during the past year to spearhead the Howelsen Hill Centennial Campaign, and at the heart of their efforts this year is raising the funds to complete Phase 3 work.

Combined, the Phase 3 projects will cost an estimated $2.3 million. That includes $1.5 million for the K38 jump, $350,000 for lighting, $400,000 for expanded snowmaking and $50,000 for a new magic carpet for beginner skiers.

Including the $900,000 in recently awarded GOCo grants, the Centennial Campaign has raised $200,000 in private donations (with a goal of $550,000), $250,000 allocated from the city’s surplus 2009 revenues and $80,000 from the city’s Howelsen Hill capital improvement fund. That puts the fundraising effort at a little more than $1.4 million.

It’s a worthy effort, no doubt. Howelsen Hill is as integral a part of Steamboat’s history and culture as any other city feature, man made or otherwise.

During winter, it’s the longest continuously operating ski area west of the Mississippi River and home to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, a storied and community-minded organization that provides winter ski and snowboard programs to nearly 1,000 children and teens.

During spring, summer and fall, it’s home to an extensive network of biking, hiking and horseback trails; it is the site of a year-round ski jump; and it is home to Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, ice arena, baseball and softball fields, the Howler Alpine slide, a BMX bike park, a skate park, basketball hoops, a playground, tennis courts and volleyball courts.

Howelsen Hill is uniquely Steamboat and sets us apart from other mountain resort communities. We support the efforts of the Centennial Campaign and the city of Steamboat Springs to continue to modernize and improve the multiuse downtown facility.

But we also recognize that in extremely difficult economic times for so many residents and businesses, digging deep for Howelsen Hill may not rise to the same level of importance as assisting the many health and human services organizations struggling to keep up with skyrocketing local demand.

Fortunately, there’s a way for residents not able to financially contribute to Howelsen at this time to still generate a significant amount of money for the campaign. The Howelsen Hill Centennial Campaign made the cut for Pepsi’s Refresh Everything initiative for December. We urge people to support the project by visiting www.refresheverything.com/steamboat and voting daily. Supporters also can text 104707 to 73774 daily to vote for Steamboat. If Steamboat finishes December in the top two, it will win $250,000 for the Howelsen Hill campaign.

Our ski heritage helps to define Steamboat Springs, and Howelsen Hill stands as the historic centerpiece of recreational skiing in Routt County. Efforts to ensure that the legacy of Howelsen Hill lives on for future generations of residents and visitors are certainly worthwhile.


Chad Fleischer 6 years, 4 months ago

While I agree that Howlelsen Hill is Steambot's most important asset I would argue that the least used, least important and most expensive project that makes no sense is the K38. I admire the sport of ski jumping and nordic combined events and I am friends with former and curretn Olympic nordic athletes but there are a few important facts to point out. This project is 1.5 million dollars and will be used by the least number of athletes in the entire club. The current weight room and conditioning facility is in dire need of a dramatic overhaul both in size and in equipment. trying to save money for very few should not equate to large sums of money by the rest for a very small benefit to others. Our athletes found success, and it was big success, without a K38 for 1.5 million. The current large tile/astro turf jump is underutilized now as it is and at what cost. I thinkit is cool to watch guys/girls jump summer and fall but do we need a K38? Do we need a new surface lift? yes. Do we need a new weight room? YEs. Do we ned to expand the facility for storage and admin offices and staff offices? Yes. Go into the offices when there are 1,000 kids and 80 coaches and you will see very easily that the last thing we need to spend 1.5 milion on is a K38. This is not about what is a prioritized sport it is about what is most used and benficial to the athletes of SSWSC. If we are campaigning for money lets make sure it is for the highest and best use. It is not easy for me to speak my mind on this subject but I feel like the SSWSC Board, City Council and the rest need to step up on this and strike it down. I am for all the other improvements slated but this is a very big mistake for the time being. Coaches are underpaid, new snowcats, more park and pipe fixtures, etc, etc. We also need to focus on where the sport is going and growing and what kids want and need to be successful. We are incvesting in the development of athletes as a whole not a specific group. I am a huge fan of Alpine Ski Racing and we did not have one Alpine Ski Racer in the Olympics from Steamboat in 2010 for the first time since 19?? That is alarming to me. Why is it not to anyone else? Someone help me out here. JAck Miller was 1988, Matt Grossjean 1992, Craig Thrasher, Myself and Grossjean in 1994, Leroy and I in 1998, Caroline 2002 and 2006. I;m just saying...are we really going to count on imported talent to claim as our own or do we want to take ownership in a world class facility for all athletes to excel across the board. I have looked at this from every angle and it is not a good decision to build a K38. Save the money, put it in the endowment or figure out a better use. If you have to spend it becaue you are getting it then how much is it costing us to spend money we are getting and for what purpose? I love Steamboat and I love all winter related sports with SSWSC but this one is not working for me.

Chad Fleischer 1994 and 1998 Steamboat Olympian


Scott Berry 6 years, 4 months ago

The GOCO grant is misguided and the city is delusional.

First, why would anyone fund the K38 jump hill when it is not only a low priority at Howelsen but it supports a sport which essentially dead in the US, and dying internationally. Furthermore, within the SSWSC, it serves a very small number of athletes.

Second, why would the city spend any money on 580 acres which Mr. Orton has already received a lot of money to encumber the land with a non-development deed restriction? The city gains little or nothing for spending $ 750,000.00 it doesn’t have!

Third, lets get real about GOCO! Their funds are generated by the most oppressive tax the state utilizes. The Lottery hits the poor very hard. It is an inequitable tax disguised as a fair game of chance (gambling) by the state government. It is very hypocritical of the “ God fearing” administrators of the SSWSC to not only request but accept these funds.

In sum, the K38 is not needed, the purchase of Orton’s ground gains nothing, the city cannot afford either project, and GOCO is a Trojan horse.


Scott Wedel 6 years, 4 months ago

Mr Orton currently allows public access to his property. He is under no obligation to do so. Any potential buyer should be expected to be like other property owners and deny public access to the property. Mr Orton is unlikely to own the property forever so I think that purchase makes sense and this is an attractive price.

The K38 is an odd move. There is an advantage for elite athletes to be able to train at a high level year round, but the K38 is a training hill.


sledneck 6 years, 4 months ago

commoncents, You got it just about right. The exception is the lottery being an oppressive tax. It is not. Oppression is "the un-just or cruel excercise of power or authority". Since people are free to chose whether or not to buy a lottery ticket the lottery is NOT oppression. I prefer to think of the lottery as a tax on stupidity... and since you get less of anything you tax and since there is soooooo much stupidity readily available I whole-heartedly favor the lottery. In fact, it should be increased. For far too many it's the only tax they pay.


Scott Berry 6 years, 4 months ago

sledneck: You got it right too! The lottery works because of stupidity and lack of self discipline. The majority of lottery tickets are purchased by those that can least afford it. So, they and their families go without and put more pressure on social programs, thus depriving the truly needy. Additionally, the state is hyper hypocritical in promoting their lottery. Try having a good ole fashioned poker game or calcuta with people who can afford it! The state will prosecute you in a heartbeat because they are not getting their share of the action.

And to Scott, Mr. Orton's land is encumbered so it cannot be developed and yes he could have stopped access, just as the Humble Ranch has, but the question is: Is it worth $750,000 just so a few can hike and bike there? And even fewer XC ski there!

And, the K38 is a developmental hill for very young kids who have no real reason to train year around.


mtroach 6 years, 4 months ago

For me one of the problems I have for voting for the Pepsi money to got howlesen hill is all the other more worthy projects on Pepsi's list. Helping people that are homeless or need a hot meal takes my vote over improvments to a recreation facility. Sorry SSWSC you should not have prompted me to vote 'cause you are not the most deserving charity on that list.


sledneck 6 years, 4 months ago

Commoncents, Where you seem to go off track is to blame the lottery for the increased pressure on social programs. The solution to that is not to eliminate the lottery but rather to eliminate the social programs.

The majority of slurpees, cigarettes, vodka, etc is purchased by those who can least afford it too. That is not the question nor is it for you and I to decide.

The first tenent of freedom is that people are free to make stupid decisions. The second tenent (the one we seem to have forgatten) is that wise and foolish decisions are things to be endured by the fools who take them; not by the rest of society.

If a fool throws his own bread in the ditch should I suffer? "The ultimate consequence of protecting men from their folly is to fill the world with fools."


Scott Berry 6 years, 4 months ago

sledneck, I couldn't agree more! My only comment, and it is a diversion from the real issue of spending tax money at Howelsen Hill on marginal projects, is that the Lottery is a sham which is promoted by the State. And, as you stated, it plays to fools who can least afford it.


mtroach 6 years, 4 months ago

The lottery is not a sham. Someone is winning those millions. Much like many other topics discussed on the forum you can chose to participate or not. The odds are posted and 1 in 35,000,000 is the same for everyone that plays. What's really a sham is the tax cut + unemployment boost the idiots in washington just passed. How can we increase benifits and cut taxes without eventually bankrupting the entire sham that is our federal government. At least participation the lottery isn't mandated by federal law.


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