Steamboat Springs A 2-acre parcel of vacant grassland between Whistler Park and Walton Creek was empty Tuesday afternoon, with the exception of an occasional neighborhood resident walking a dog along a singletrack trail.
But planners of a bicycle park are hoping beginner bikers in Steamboat Springs who want to learn to ride on dirt pump tracks and jump lines soon will inhabit the land.
“To have an environment like this to teach bikers basic skills is going to be positive,” lead track planner Blair Seymour said last week.
Seymour is hoping the privately funded track will gather blessings from several elected officials necessary to begin its construction this fall on Mount Werner Water District land. Water District officials drew up an agreement with planners last month that district officials will sign only if, among other things, the city of Steamboat Springs assumes liability for the park.
The park’s proposal has drawn praise from other cycling enthusiasts and parents, but it also has been met with opposition from some neighbors who say its construction will negatively impact their neighborhood.
“I love biking, but I just don’t think this is the right place for a bicycle park,” Meadow Lane resident Leslie Hannah said Tuesday. “Why can’t we just leave some open space alone?”
Hannah said she and other neighbors are concerned about noise and dust that would be generated during the park’s estimated three-week construction phase as well as its impact on area wildlife, a concern park planners conceded they have not analyzed.
She and 68 of her neighbors signed a letter last month that asked Water District General Manager Jay Gallagher not to approve the park’s construction. Other neighbors have come out in support of the park saying it would be a benefit to the neighborhood.
Gallagher said his board last month said the proposal was a reasonable request from a group that is working to further a community interest.
However, he also said the board will consider the park’s potential impact on Whistler Park residents when they vote whether to approve its construction at a meeting as early as September.
“Neighbors are very concerned about changes to their neighborhood, and we certainly respect that,” Gallagher said.
He said he has asked the park’s planners to consult with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to assess the park’s potential impact.
Before they can begin construction, park planners still need the blessing of Steamboat’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, a conditional land-use permit from Routt County and a land easement from the Steamboat Springs School District.
One of those hurdles can be overcome Thursday night if the Steamboat Springs School Board votes to grant the park’s planners access to a dirt trail on district-owned land to allow trucks carrying dirt to reach the site.
Several School Board members said last week they were unsure whether they would approve the easement, citing concerns about emergency vehicle access to the site and the potential increase of bike traffic on district land as concerns they will weigh when they make their decisions.
Seymour said the park is estimated to cost at least $17,000 and is being funded exclusively by the Directional Development Foundation. The park would be maintained for three years and then removed.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com