Steamboat Springs When Bob and Audrey Enever arrived in Steamboat Springs in 1971, they hadn’t lived in one place together longer than four years. After stints in Dearborn, Wis., British Columbia and Germany, the British couple set eyes on the Yampa Valley as a place they could call home.
“We said, ‘This is where we want to stay,’” said Bob Enever, sitting on a bench in the Yampa River Botanic Park this week. The park was once a flat meadow before he and his wife donated the land to the city of Steamboat Springs 15 years ago with an endowment to maintain the community garden. “Having come to a place where we wanted to stick, we wanted to help shape it.”
The Enevers, longtime local supporters of artistic and environmental endeavors in the Yampa Valley, will be honored this weekend with the city of Steamboat Springs’ Heritage Award, which honors those who have offered a significant amount of time and effort to community service in Steamboat.
The award was first given to John Fetcher in 2000 and typically is awarded every two years. Other recipients of the award include Gloria Gossard, Jayne Hill, Kevin Bennett and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
In a ceremony Sunday in the Botanic Park, Steamboat Springs City Council member Sonja Macys will present the couple with the award, a bronze sculpture of an elk by Curtis Zabel.
Macys said Friday that the Enevers’ conception of the Botanic Park has become an invaluable amenity to Steamboat.
“I think having the vision and the generosity to create the space is one thing, but having the wherewithal to understand that it’s not just about giving a piece of land,” Macys said. “They made sure there was going to be funding to make sure it still existed. That’s one of the best things they could have done.”
The Enevers have been involved in the progression of the Steamboat community ever since they arrived.
Audrey came to town with a master’s in mathematics and experience working on some of the first computers ever made. In Steamboat, she worked on the first local computer, an IBM the size of a room.
She then bought her own computer as she launched Steamboat Computer Services. Applying computing to business ahead of the curve, Audrey did the city’s payroll via computer and mechanized the city’s water billing system.
“It really is pretty phenomenal,” said Kathy Connell, former City Council president and Botanic Park board member. “They’ve always been so involved in caring about our community.”
In addition to the park, the couple has shown an extensive interest in the arts.
In 1976, Bob helped launch the Steamboat Summer Arts Festival to attract visitors to Steamboat for its arts and culture.
He also helped found Mountain Resorts and developed affordable housing for Steamboat Springs, including Walton Village and Whistler Village. They sold their Fish Creek Mobile Home Park to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority in 2007, further securing additional long-term affordable housing options for Steamboat residents.
But it’s the park that is the crown jewel of the Enevers’ philanthropy in Steamboat.
Entering the gated park — which is free to all — is an escape into a peaceful and immaculate world of flora and fauna, complete with ponds, waterfalls, rock gardens and secluded benches.
“One of the things it’s done is it’s taught people that even though we’re at altitude, you can still grow things,” Bob said, adding that he’s seen more and more gardens popping up in Steamboat since the park opened 15 years ago.
Now, a small staff and as many as 40 volunteers maintain the park, which has been split up into smaller plots gardened by local organizations.
“We felt as if we’d done the thing we wanted to: gave the people of Steamboat Springs a park with trees and benches and a garden,” Bob said. “That was our dream. But what’s happened since then is the members of the public board have come on and they’ve become more ambitious than we ever were.
“It’s taken on a life of it’s own.”
The couple said staying involved with the community has been an important part of their lives in the Yampa Valley.
The Heritage Award, Bob said, made him feel “very proud.”
Gesturing around at the trees, plants and flowers in the Botanic Park, Audrey added, “And very proud for the community that we have such an acceptance of this.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com