Ramp, amphitheater to be built at base area this summer

Promenade construction set to resume April 19 after Closing Day

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— Construction of the second phase of the pedestrian promenade that will wrap the base of the ski area by late 2011 is on track to begin as soon as April 19.

Mid-April and the end of the ski season still are over the horizon, but the citizen’s group overseeing design of the promenade and its professional consultants are on a tight timeline. It calls for them to begin seeking proposals from contractors by Feb. 7. Redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum told the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee on Thursday that the successful bidder on the roughly $4.1 million of work for this year should be named by April 6.

“We probably have more work for this summer than what we have money for,” Kracum said. “Once we make the selection of a contractor, we’ll sit down and see how much we can do.”

The promenade of brick pavers with snow-melting capacity and attractive new signage is meant to improve pedestrian access to public transportation, shops and restaurants around the ski base.

Chris Diamond, president of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., who sits on URAAC, urged the group to prepare to ask the Urban Renewal Authority (City Council) to consider lending it additional funds for the project in the interest of fiscal efficiency and stimulating the local economy. After attending a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association meeting earlier in the day, Diamond said he was reminded how much the business community is counting on the new promenade.

“This project is seen as a key link to getting out of this (economic) malaise,” Diamond said. “Our job is to leverage this public investment to encourage private investment and grow the economy.”

Increases in property valuations in the resort district at the base of the ski area, which in turn result in more property tax revenues, fund the URA. The URA agreed to issue bonds backed by those revenues last year.

Construction on the trail and the ultimate restoration of Burgess Creek began last summer with the less-than-glamorous work of building a new, more attractive diversion for the creek. Also included in last summer’s work was the construction of a traffic roundabout at Après Ski Way and Mount Werner Circle.

Last summer’s stream diversion project will allow city crews to someday divert water out of the culvert that carries the stream beneath the lower trails on the ski area and into a rebuilt natural streambed.

The creek then could be channeled back into the culvert during the winter when skiers pass over it. Granite boulders and sedimentary outcroppings that create a seating area flank the new diversion structure.

However, work on the stream will not be tackled until late 2011 when seasonal flows are at a low.

Committee members spent an hour Thursday with landscape architect Nicole Horst, of Wenk Associates, fine-tuning a complex stretch of the promenade. Scheduled to be built this summer, it would include a wide staircase and a teardrop-shaped ramp to lead pedestrians from the eastern elevation of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, up a modest grade to the large, grassy area on top of the Torian Plum parking structure.

The ramp would enclose a small amphitheater suitable for hosting public gatherings.

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