Our View: Move forward with Promenade

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Editorial Board, May 11 through Sept. 21, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Laura Schmidt, community representative
  • Jim Miller, community representative

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

Correction: The Steamboat Pilot & Today has learned that, prior to publication of this editorial, the city of Steamboat Springs and the Sheraton Steamboat Resort reached verbal agreement on the easement issues in question, rendering moot the opinion in this editorial. The Pilot & Today regrets the error.

The new pedestrian promenade expected to take shape at the base of Steamboat Ski Area in summer isn’t just a crucial step toward modernizing the heart of our resort economy. It also is emblematic of the broader community’s determination to make progress even as we struggle to emerge from a profound economic downturn.

It’s for that reason we were dismayed to learn Friday about the impasse over an easement outside the Sheraton Steamboat Resort that has the potential to upset the construction timetable during this crucial season for the promenade.

The snowmelted promenade is the centerpiece of the $20 million project that is being built with public funds. It includes the daylighting of Burgess Creek and public gathering places rimming a horseshoe at the base of the ski area.

The project will stretch from Ski Time Square and the Thunderhead Lodge redevelopment site at one end, continuing past Torian Plum, the Sheraton, Gondola Square and One Steamboat Place until it reaches The Dulany condominium building. It promises to create a convenient pedestrian path across the width and breadth of the ski village for the first time in its history.

But there’s a snag.

The Sheraton, which is owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts, does not want to sign on to the operations and management agreement that every other private property owner rimming the promenade already has signed. Attorneys for the hotel are reluctant to yield control of an easement running between the hotel and the edge of the lowest ski slopes unless the hotel is absolved of any future liability for damage to the promenade and its snowmelt system.

They point out that heavy construction equipment that might be used someday to remodel the exterior of their property is likely to be heavier than what the trail can bear.

Yet every other property owner, including Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. with a gondola building that is overdue for remodeling, already has assumed the same risk.

The Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee, which reports to City Council in its role as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, is rejecting a proposal by the Sheraton’s legal team that a special operations and management agreement be crafted just for the hotel.

Committee co-chairman Steve Frasier said Tuesday that isn’t acceptable.

“Our position is very simple,” Frasier said. “Please sign on to the agreement already in place with the other property owners so that we can proceed with a seamless transition from the promenade to the Sheraton property.”

He said that because the Sheraton, along with the Ski Corp., provided the original impetus for the base area improvements, committee members thought it was understood that the Sheraton was on board with the operations and management agreement. They didn’t learn there were issues until late 2010.

The sentiment on the committee is that if push comes to shove, the only remaining option for the city would be to narrow the promenade in front of the Sheraton to avoid the easement and eliminate a short spur that would have led directly to a hotel entrance.

We think any compromise in the functionality of the promenade along one of its most heavily used stretches would be a regrettable solution.

Instead, we think it’s time for Starwood to match the community’s commitment.

Starwood has been a good operator of the Sheraton Steamboat for a number of years. It spent about $20 million to refurbish 191 guest rooms in 2008, and the hotel is a significant contributor to the health of the resort community.

Now, the city of Steamboat Springs has stretched its bonding capability in a time of budgetary hardship to invest in public improvements that will greatly benefit the Sheraton. And we remind its owners that in any other city where their remodeling projects damaged a city sidewalk or street, they would be responsible for the damages.

The cost of protecting or repairing the promenade should be built into the cost of any future project. It’s only fair to their neighbors and the rest of the community.

Comments

Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

Well put, and completely correct.

In case the Sheraton hadn't noticed, their neighbors will be voting next Fall on an airline subsidy tax. And further down the road the City will be redirecting much of the Haymaker's tax money into other tourism infrastructure.

One hell of a time for a major SB lodging property to be screwing it's neighbors.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

I like the condemnation/eminent domain suggestion floated in a similar forum recently. I haven't seen the plans, but it is currently a mess, especially with the end-of-day skiers tromping through base-area concerts. One question: Would the Sheraton then be trespassing, putting heavy equipment on their former easement?

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tweetyrmj 2 years, 11 months ago

A few things…please be fair while reporting on your small town issues. Make sure your facts are accurate.

City Council gave you inaccurate facts regarding the situation with the Sheraton.

Did the reporter speak to anyone at the hotel to get their take on the situation?

The article from last Friday was inaccurate as well. Your Opinion statement was also inaccurate.

Please let your readers be aware that a retraction is not adequate. Perhaps an apology is in order?

You receive a huge FAIL on reporting this situation. Unfortunately, people believe what they read.

Please, in the future, try to do a better job.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

So enlighten us with the facts, eh? Accusations go both ways, and I see few facts or even allegations in your correspondence. What is inaccurate? That is what these forums are supposedly about, an exchange of information, not just finger-pointing. What we seek is clearer water, not muddier. Do you represent the Sheraton? What is your interest in the matter? We would appreciate more than accusations at this point. WHAT WAS/IS INACCURATE? You have failed miserably in your reporting as well. Until we hear some facts, you are just another trouble-maker. So clue us in, huh?

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S_G30 2 years, 11 months ago

"He said that because the Sheraton, along with the Ski Corp., provided the original impetus for the base area improvements, committee members thought it was understood that the Sheraton was on board with the operations and management agreement. They didn’t learn there were issues until late 2010."

Maybe instead of assuming a major corporation was on board, you should have made sure that all agreements were in place before moving forward with the project. This is obviously a major snag in the planning that should have been discussed. Seems to me that this should have been taken care of in the planning process. Is thier no signed agreements pertaining to operations, management and easements?

Or, was this left aside in order to make it a public defacing of a major lodging component of the base area in order to "push" desired plans? If you ask me there is a lot of info missing and the Sheraton is not fully to blame.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

There are two sides to every dispute, and nobody is suggesting that the Sheraton's concerns are without merit -- just that they should have made their objections known long before a shovel of dirt was scheduled to be turned. Now at virtually the last minute, they pipe up with their issues. It's too late for a court resolution, without shelving the project for at least another year. That's where the concept of condemnation and eminent domain originated: When one obstinate landowner (or easement holder) stands in the way of progress. For the public good. Of course, now the Sheraton will sue, seeking an injunction on development, pending the outcome of a legal action, and delaying anything for at least another year. Probably the citizens will be called upon, to put up the cash to buttress or otherwise build supports for the Sheraton's maybe-equipment-somewhere-down-the-line, then everyone will be happy, especially the contractor awarded the extra work. Sorry, kids, looks like the skiers will be tromping through your concerts for at least another year.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 11 months ago

tweetyrmj Your comments are totaly worthless as we have no idea who you are.

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exduffer 2 years, 11 months ago

Another case of "Our lawyers can beat the crap out of your lawyers". Will the city ever learn?

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

And as usual, the common citizen pays for the games of the high and mighty. The pols and lawyers laugh at the common folk, all the way to the bank. tweetyrmj's comments are worse than worthless, not because we don't know who or why he (?) is, but because there is absolutely no substance, just unfounded accusations. Welcome to America, the modern wasteland. This is a fat society, with money to burn on the frivolous and the bottom-feeders. No wonder the economy is in the tanks, and getting worse. Now a whole bunch of extra money will be burned, and time wasted, to benefit a very few, while inconveniencing the most. If you too are not milking society, you missed the boat.

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

The same brother I mentioned in another forum, who died at 48 from liver cancer, once mentioned how he made over $40K one time, in a similar easement dispute, this one about a fence 3 feet over the property line, which required a whole new survey. I don't cite this to support any karma theory; I hope he is in a better place. Now the OTHER brother makes $200K tax-free, killing foreigners for the State Dept. I'm sure a better place awaits him too. This loser owns no property, but has a clear conscience.

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Scott Stanford 2 years, 11 months ago

All:

The editorial is in error. The Sheraton is not an obstacle to proceeding with Promenade construction. The Sheraton and the city of Steamboat Springs have reached verbal agreement on the easement issues. That agreement was reached Monday, prior to publication of this editorial. This was an error on the part of the Editorial Board, which, regrettably, did not gather all of the updated information prior to rendering its opinion.

Scott Stanford General Manager Steamboat Pilot & Today sstanford@SteamboatToday.com (970) 871-4202

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rhys jones 2 years, 11 months ago

Scott's article was apparently being penned at the same time as my rant. If I am in error, along with this editorial, please excuse me; I just love a new soapbox too!! Still, we ARE a fat and litigious society. And the Chinese still own us. But maybe we'll get a promenade after all!!

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Dennis O'Connor 2 years, 11 months ago

If the Sheraton refuses to cooperate equally, perhaps the re-design should include cutting off any convenient or beneficial access to the Sheraton property and its guests (i.e. fencing or decorative planting that prevent access), thereby denying that property of the benefits of the public improvements. Obviously they want all the perks, but want special treatment as they believe they are more important than neighboring owners to the project.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Scott. The correction obviously helps. The Sheraton gets credit for mending their problem at the 12th hour. Unfortunately your earlier 11th hour article was apparently necessary to get us there, with quotes from the participants illuminating how difficult this easement was.

Janet Hruby's statements in that article were responsible and calm compared to the other players (and me). Good work there Hruby. With the easements now in place, my apologies to City staff for my earlier comments.

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