Base area opinions abound in Steamboat

Council’s discussions of financing, construction choices continue

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What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to administer base area redevelopment

When: 5:05 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 970-879-2060 or visit http://steamboatsprings.net for more information.

— Steamboat Springs City Council members have their work cut out for them today as they weigh whether to move forward with a project that could stimulate business and future tourism, while also balancing how to safeguard city coffers for an uncertain future.

The City Council convenes shortly after 5 p.m. today in Centennial Hall as the Steam­boat Springs Redevelopment Authority, which administers redevelopment at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. On the agenda is a review of financial projections and lending scenarios provided by city Finance Director Deb Hinsvark. Also planned for today is a discussion of four construction options: moving forward with as much as $2.5 million of work this summer while finding a new financing agreement; postponing the project and using that amount to lessen the city’s indebtedness; beginning scaled-down work while negotiations continue with U.S. Bank; or postponing the project while keeping the funds on hand.

Last week, the committee guiding base area redevelopment supported a partial plan for this summer’s work. The Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend about $2.2 million in spending on earthwork, utilities, a temporary gravel trail, snowmelt mains and other items that would provide few public amenities but would set the stage for future, more aesthetically appealing work when funding is available. Committee members expressed confidence in base area revenue streams and future funding for the project.

Councilman Walter Magill didn’t share URAAC’s sentiment Monday.

“Their optimism is understood, but again, I agree that it’s not a necessary construction project for this year,” Magill said, supporting recent comments made by City Council President Cari Hermacinski, who called redevelopment a “want” rather than a “need” in the recessionary economy.

Councilman Jon Quinn, however, said it’s time to put shovels in the ground.

“I think it’s in our best interest to move forward with that work — we’ve got a good price on it right now, we’re putting a lot of people to work by spending that money … and the work has got to get done,” he said. “The numbers I’ve seen make me very comfortable with the base area valuations. … I think for right now, the most prudent course of action is to keep moving ahead.”

The full $4.5 million base area project planned for this year includes partial construction of a public promenade, the daylighting of Burgess Creek and installation of numerous amenities such as seating areas, stone walls and fire features.

City Council voted May 7 to release $2.5 million in funding for base area work this summer. That vote followed lengthy city negotiations with U.S. Bank, which issued the city a default notice in April on its $17.5 million redevelopment loan. Earlier this month, the bank removed the default conditions and agreed to the immediate use of $2.5 million, provided that the remainder of this year’s funds, also about $2.5 million, be held in a construction account.

Financial philosophies likely will guide tonight’s discussion about how to proceed.

“I think we’re going to be pretty careful — we’d all like to see the project go forward, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Councilman Jim Engelken said Monday. “We need to approach this with a conservative perspective. I have not made my mind up whether I support the recommendation of URAAC or not.”

Comments

John Fielding 4 years, 7 months ago

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So we have this money already, so to speak. Bonds have been issued and bought and the money is costing us interest. All that is waiting is for the work to be done to release the funds from the bank. Or have I misunderstood the present state of the financing?.

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blue_spruce 4 years, 7 months ago

great point

"...we’re putting a lot of people to work by spending that money … and the work has got to get done..."

and not just trivial.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

Simple question: Are they considering the $2.5M project because this is what they want done or because this is all that they can afford this year?

It appears that there is minimal public benefit to the $2.5M project because it is largely preparatory work for the part that has public benefit. The danger of doing the $2.5M project is that it would be largely pointless, and hence money wasted, until the remainder of the project is completed. So, unless the money is there to finish it then they they should not start it.

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 7 months ago

The potential of higher prices from local contractors vs. the potential of the city applying critical reserves...

With a "yes", the 6 base area property owners on the URAAC board of 9 will see an obvious benefit - even though it's prep work, the city would now be committed to eventually spending about $5 million in their front yards. And given its prep work, the only benefit to Steamboat is creating local jobs this summer.

I would say "no", because my personal outlook is one of fiscal caution and I expect my city to be even more cautious. There are still disconcerting rumblings in both the global and national economies. Have we seen the commercial foreclosure wave that was predicted? The health of the TIF bonds and the base area valuations that back them are far from assured. http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

Looking at this again next spring is the prudent path.

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Jamie Morgan 4 years, 7 months ago

I am really late to discussions of the base area improvements but I do have a couple questions. Who owns the land for the Burgess Creek improvements? Who previously buried Burgess Creek in the first place? The land appears to be Ski Corps from the county GIS mapping.

I guess the purpose of the improvement district is to develop tax income to allow improvements on private land for the benefit of all through increased summer tourism activity and sales tax generation?

Sorry....just didn't really pay attention to the plan during the original passage. I live in the county and didn't spend much time watching this one.

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ybul 4 years, 7 months ago

John we have a mort-gage, the word is derived from latin Mort and Gage. Go look up there meanings. Used to be that we were a society of savers. So when this countries debts need repaid what happens to tourism.

Debts are already coming due and most government agencies are cutting way back, which has been slightly offset by the federal stimulus bill. What happens when that bill comes due? Do we hyperinflate our debts away or become fiscally responsible again, either will cause our standard of living (consumption as we just might be happier) to fall dramatically. Hyperinflation will simply destroy the middle class in the process.

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ybul 4 years, 7 months ago

John that mortgage, is a promise to pay future earnings for glory today. What happens if those earnings fall short, cuts become deeper.

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