Steamboat City Council, commissioners disagree on trail extension

Commissioners say they have higher priorities than extending the Core Trail

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In other business

The Routt County Board of Commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council:

■ Voted unanimously to adopt a new four-year Human Services Plan to help a variety of local agencies ensure they are spending available funds in a concerted effort to meet community needs and goals. The elected officials heard there will be increased emphasis on helping families break the cycle of poverty.

■ Voted to return Johnny Sawyer, John Spezia and Rich Lowe to new terms on the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, as well as to appoint Kathi Meyer, a previous member, to the board.

■ Heard County Planning Director Chad Phillips say his office has six pending applications for oil and gas drilling permits waiting for their traffic plans to be approved. Of the six, four have returned the requested information.

— Steamboat Springs City Council is interested in teaming with Routt County to build a trail to the Steamboat II and Silver Spur neighborhoods west of city limits. However, the county commissioners made clear Monday that they won’t supply matching funds to any grants the city might land to help get a trail built in the near term.

Possible extension of the city’s trail network was on the agenda Monday when the two groups of public officials met for a joint meeting at the Routt County Courthouse.

“I’m comfortable with leaving it on our bulletin board,” Commissioner Doug Monger said about the trail project. “But we have so many things that we’ve cut during (these) economic times. Governmental resources (for building a trail) — at this time they don’t even exist.”

City Council member Walter Magill told the commissioners that the city attaches importance to extending a public trail to county residents in the neighborhoods beyond city limits and is hopeful that it can participate with the county on the project in the near future.

“We hope the commissioners share this goal,” Magill said.

“What do you mean when you say you hope we share that goal?” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak asked.

“We hope you’d begin setting aside some money toward that goal,” Magill responded.

“I seriously doubt that’s going to happen,” Stahoviak said. “I think the only way this is going to happen is a voter-approved source of new money.”

Stahoviak added that a higher priority for the county is restoring its employees’ salaries, which were cut in 2009.

Monger agreed, ranking employee compensation as the highest priority and the restoration of the county asphalt road-paving schedule in the budget process.

Commission Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush told the gathering that restoring employee salaries is the priority for her, too. But she added that she had previously met with City Engineer Janet Hruby and Steamboat II Metro District Manager Doug Baker to explore the possibilities for a northern extension of the city’s trails system that would not follow the path of the Yampa River as the Yampa River Core Trail has done and might be more readily accomplished.

“It wouldn’t replace the Core Trail on the river sometime in the future, but in terms of trying to get something done more quickly (it might be a good choice) so residents of Steamboat II and Heritage Park could have a trail that was safe, instead of trying to use Highway 40, which is unsafe I think,” Mitsch Bush said.

Baker confirmed Monday that his board of directors, which already provides trails within its district, would consider maintaining a new soft-surface connecting trail.

After the meeting, Monger said he could envision the county using its heavy equipment, employees and perhaps gravel to provide an in-kind grant to help the trail project along.

Asked if the trail extension was a high enough priority for the city to go it alone, Magill said: “I don’t think we can apply for grants outside the city. I guess we’ll build a trail to our city limits.”

However, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said he is unaware of any legal constraints that would prevent the city from pursuing trail building grants outside the city.

And there is precedent in Colorado for a municipality going as far as condemnation proceedings to build recreational amenities outside its boundaries.

After a large majority of its voters directed it to do so in 2002, the town of Telluride acquired 570 acres along the San Miguel River at its southern boundary in 2004 to create an open space park including, among other things, walking and bicycling trails. The state Legislature passed a law to prevent that action, but the town prevailed before the Colorado Supreme Court, which struck down the law in 2008.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 3 years ago

I have no idea why the City doubts it can spend money outside of city limits. They currently provide bus service to Craig and helped pay for the Craig bus terminal. City Council just wants to say a trail is very important without paying for it. If City thinks a trail to SB II is important then build it.

As for city and county government pay, both make it sound like government employees are making great sacrifices to keep working for government and there is some moral imperative to give them pay raises. Government employees were not drafted and are free to take jobs elsewhere. Presumably, the reason that government employees are not leaving in droves for better higher paying private sector jobs is because those jobs do not exist in this economy. If government employees were to leave then there will be better qualified job applicants seeking to fill that job.

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Bill Dalzell 3 years ago

Yampa Valley Boy. What issues do you have with making the western portion of Steamboat Springs more pedestrian friendly? Whether its the time or not, I just don't see how you think the principle is so ridiculous. I also have to say Diane seems much more in touch with her constituents than Monger and Stahoviak, who in my opinion need to go. I don't understand how everyone in this town agreed that western Steamboat was the direction they wanted to go with new development, and now 20 years later everyone changes their mind. Call me crazy, but you develop an area that is attractive to families and children and then you think they should go play in the street (literally) Times like these you are tough to take seriously.

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spidermite 3 years ago

BillyD, Doug Monger once stated that the commissioners weigh their decisions based upon what will benefit the majority of the county's citizens. The population of Steamboat II and Silver View combined isn't enough to meet that requirement.

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Bill Dalzell 3 years ago

I am not sure that is an accurate statement. From what I have heard Nancy and Doug are big on roads. Regrade this plow that, even if its ten miles long and one guy lives out there. Its a just been done that way, so why change it, philosophy. Not to mention, right or wrong Doug's refusal to acknowledge the oil and gas petition and passing it off with I don't care what anyone else thinks, doesn't really constitute looking out for the majority of citizens. Doug and Nancy like to drive it turns out. They refuse to acknowledge any benefit from any other form of transportation. Not because of the public (West Routt is Doug's district I believe) just because it doesn't interest them, personally.

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vanguy 3 years ago

There are around 400 families living in West Steamboat, a population of about 1000 people. Not to mention how many other citizens who utilize the Heritage Park fields for youth soccer and other activities. While this project may not benefit the "majority of citizens", there is certainly a critical mass of people that would benefit from this bike path connection.

I wonder how this population number compares to the number of citizens who use city funded facilities such as the Howelsen Ice Arena, Howelsen Hill, the Ski Jumps, Haymaker Golf Course, the Tennis Center, and the new Emerald Land purchase. I can only speculate the size of these user groups can't be much more than 1000 people. And remind me again what amount of tax revenue goes into each of these facilities?

The most expensive aspect of this project will be acquiring the right of way easements from Steamboat 700. The actual cost to build the path will be quite easy to cover through volunteering, fundraising, and in kind donations, many of which are ready and waiting for the green light on the project.

And Steamboat II Metro Disctrict has plenty of property tax revenue generated solely by the three West Steamboat subdivisions to fund its ongoing maintenance.

We really just need financial assistance in acquiring the right of way easements from those greedy Las Vegas developers that the citizens of Steamboat ran out of town a few years ago.

As a reminder, the voice of West Steamboat was NOT represented in the 700 vote a few years ago.

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greenwash 3 years ago

Hertage Park , SB 2 , should be called surburban Steamboat Springs . West SBS should consist of West End Village , Riverside , Sleepy Bear , Downhill.

Before we start thinking of a trail to surbuban Steamboat lets get the trail to the actual west end .

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Bill Dalzell 3 years ago

Its pretty much there greenwash. Ends a little early just past Shield Drive, but otherwise runs all the way from Steamboat to the west end.

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

If they have to pay for right of way easements through SB 700 property then that should end the discussion right there. If SB 700 is not willing to grant access until the property is ready to be developed then that should be the end of the discussion. If the trail was designed as if it was the the forerunner of the road that will be required through any development of SB 700 then the trail construction is also some of the first phase of road construction. And if that isn't good enough for the SB 700 folk then don't give them anything.

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spidermite 3 years ago

BillyD, I was close but here is Doug's exact quote "The commissioners will continue to do all of the things that we believe are in the best interest of the majority of our citizens" . The sidewalk, for West Steamboat, may become a little expensive when it goes through the 1.89 acres of swamp.

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greenwash 3 years ago

Ummm , pretty much means not quite... Soo lets bring the dead end trail from skate park into Riverside neighborhood via Riverside ct...Put a trail up Downhill drive completely not just parts and pieces to connect west End Villages and downhill businesses.Connect trail from new courthouse around front of Sheriffs office to riverside plaza.Add to trail from 7-11 to Copper Ridge/ TIC / Smartwool ...Than we can talk about Surburban west SBS.....Mabye RMYC could make it a project.

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sledneck 3 years ago

Perhaps the bikers could take up a collection...

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Bill Dalzell 3 years ago

YVB. Don't get me wrong I do support every ones right to their own opinion. I also think public spending is a delicate issue. That being said there are certain public funded amenities that make a town better. It is difficult to impossible to establish a direct cost benefit, but there is no doubt in my mind, that should the city and county eliminate all such public funding, the area and economic base would suffer greatly. For instance, do you think that all city funding for trails and recreation should be eliminated? This includes Howelsen, Spring Creek, Butcherknife, Little Toots park, River maintenance and restoration, Golf, playgrounds, existing trails between town and the mountain etc. You may not want to use the trail yourself, but making the area a better place is of direct benefit to you.

Maybe the city should not have plowed that 1/4 inch of snow we got the other night. I think that putting those resources towards a trail is a better public benefit.

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

With this area planned to become part of city of SB and certainly the affected residents pay their share of city sales tax then I think that Routt County is right to limit it's role to providing some assistance to SB's efforts to build it.

City can use the same sales tax argument that is used to subsidize corporations to justify spending money on a trail which will make it easier for west side residents to get to and from SB to spend money.

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Bill Dalzell 2 years, 12 months ago

Not trying to pick a fight so don't take it the wrong way, but curious why you live here, YVB? Just trying to understand your thoughts as to what befeits you appreciate from Steamboat and if you don't want anything other than low taxes, why not move where the cost of living is half of Steamboat. Lots of choices in Colorado.

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