Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to discuss base area improvement plans

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night will discuss plans to improve the base of the ski area amid some tension with stakeholders who help to oversee the projects there.

Since 2007, the Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee has advised the council on millions of dollars worth of construction activities at the base area that have ranged from the addition of the popular promenade to major street improvements.

The council acts as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority when it oversees base area redevelopment issues.

But with property values in decline and limited funding available from the pool of tax incremental funding used to pay for the improvements at the base area, city officials are projecting the work of URAAC soon could wind down.

“I don't see in any shape or form the elimination of that advisory committee, but it could slow down,” City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Sunday about URAAC adding that it continues to play an important role in base area redevelopment.

In a memo that will be presented to the council members at Tuesday's SSRA meeting, city staff wrote that with “property values dropping, it can be assumed there will be little or no revenue for projects in the next 3-4 years.”

But some volunteers on URAAC are concerned by what they perceive as a recent lack of support from the city.

In a letter to the council, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Vice President and URAAC member Jim Schneider wrote that some on the committee are concerned by recent city actions that include a request to use some of the money allotted for base area projects to help improve medians on the stretch of highway leading up to the ski area.

“Recently, we have seen a significant pull back in staff support for URAAC ... ignoring URAAC priorities as established in the annual retreat, and, just this past week, the determination by staff to make a direct appeal to the SSRA for spending on (U.S. Highway 40) medians, a project that had never been discussed by URAAC and, obviously was not on our priority list,” Schneider wrote.

He added that the committee and the Redevelopment Authority have much more work to do and "should not let down our guard."

The city and the Urban Renewal Authority plan to embark on a significant $240,000 project this summer that will landscape and beautify medians on Mount Werner Circle.

URAAC and the Redevelopment Authority also recently have been working through some issues with the maintenance and operation of the new infrastructure at the base area.

In January, property owners at the base area along with URAAC asked the city to appoint a director to coordinate the operations and maintenance at the base area.

Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said at the time that there were “inconsistencies with maintenance at the base area” caused by some property owners not “understanding their responsibilities.”

The proposal was to hire the director at an estimated cost of $70,000.

The council, acting as the SSRA, voted 5-2 to deny the request and instead advised URAAC and city staff to propose that base area property owners find a way to fund the position themselves.

Several council members said they were concerned by the additional cost the city was incurring because of new maintenance associated with base area improvements.

They also wanted the responsibility to fall on property owners.

The city estimates its annual maintenance costs have increased $65,000 because of URA improvements installed in the city rights-of-way.

On Tuesday night, Hinsvark said she plans to provide a broad overview of the history of the URA, URAAC and the SSRA.

Then, the council will be asked to discuss its future.

“I would say we probably have some confusion and perhaps some disagreement,” Hinsvark said. “Just getting those things resolved will be very positive for the ongoing relationship that we have.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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