A request from Triple Crown to use the ballfields at Emerald Park has brought the issue of the troublesome access to the park back into the spotlight.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

A request from Triple Crown to use the ballfields at Emerald Park has brought the issue of the troublesome access to the park back into the spotlight.

Troublesome access to Emerald Park in Steamboat Springs back in the spotlight

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— Pamela Lane residents and three former members of the Steamboat Springs City Council on Wednesday night told their city's Parks and Recreation Commission it still isn't time to allow Triple Crown to play on the ballfields at Emerald Park.

Former council member Meg Bentley summed up the sentiments of many in the audience when she issued a request to the city staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Reader poll

Should Triple Crown be allowed to use the ballfields in Emerald Park?

  • Yes. It's a city park and the expansion could benefit the community by bringing more visitors to town. 39%
  • Yes. There is room for more players on those fields. 5%
  • No. It shouldn't be allowed until a new access to the park is constructed. 22%
  • No. Triple Crown never should be allowed to play games in the park. 34%

376 total votes.

“Don't bring this issue up to the public again until we have a second access (to Emerald Park) in place,” she said.

For years, Pamela Lane residents and some other community members have opposed Triple Crown's request to expand onto the ballfields, in part, because the only vehicular access to Emerald Park runs in front of homes on the residential street.

Valerie White, a homeowner on Pamela Lane, described the road as a “highway” during the busy summer months.

“People drive crazy down that road while an 11-year-old is riding her bike,” White said, adding she fears the congestion and traffic could someday lead to an accident.

To help slow down traffic, several speed bumps are deployed on the road in the summer.

The latest discussion about the Emerald ballfields was spurred by a new request from Triple Crown to use the fields so that it can add about 60 teams to its Mountain Magic baseball tournament during three weekends in June.

Steamboat Springs Chamber CEO Tom Kern and Triple Crown representative Jason McCoy told the Parks and Recreation Commission that a lack of field space here is causing Triple Crown to turn away several teams from the upcoming tournament.

“We're very sensitive to the request to use Emerald Park,” McCoy said. “We've brought this idea up before, and we certainly understand (the concerns of) having the one access point, but we're willing to come up with a parking plan in terms of trying to limit the amount of traffic that goes up and down the lane there.”

He said teams could use shuttle buses and carpool to minimize the traffic impact.

With the exception of the four ballfields at Emerald, Triple Crown uses all of the city's seven baseball diamonds as well as fields in Hayden, Craig and Oak Creek.

The City Council here has on more than one occasion denied Triple Crown's request to use the ballfields at Emerald, most recently in 2008.

But the requests have stirred up some contentious debates.

Some community members see the benefit of opening up the city park to other uses, including one that has a big economic impact on the city, while others want to avoid more traffic and noise at the park.

The latest request from Triple Crown has thrust the issue of the troublesome access to the park back into the spotlight.

The city has for years had a desire to create a new access to the park that doesn't run through the heart of a residential neighborhood.

Plans for the new access already are drawn up but have been delayed because of some tedious negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad about a new crossing.

“It would be lovely if I could tell you we could start construction in the spring, but our engineers in the city (are telling me) there isn't much hope that will be the case,” City Manager Deb Hinsvark said.

The city has budgeted at least $1.4 million next year to finalize the design of the new access and possibly start construction.

Council member Scott Myller told the audience the current council is resolved to see the project go forward.

“We have told our staff to get (the new access) done. It is in the capital improvement program,” Myller said. “I really do think the political will on our council right now is there to fix the Pamela Lane access. Hopefully, this issue doesn't go away.”

Parks and Recreation Commission members who offered opinions on the proposal said the access should be addressed before any future uses are considered.

Following the meeting, Kern said the public comments made it clear the new access will have to be addressed before discussions continue about opening the ballparks to other uses.

What do you think? Vote in our poll or comment below.

Director search narrows

The city of Steamboat Springs is getting closer to hiring the next leader of its Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department.

Anne Small, the city's director of general services, said Wednesday that the city has identified four finalists for the high-profile position.

If all four pass background and reference checks, the finalists will be invited early next month to meet with city staff, community members and local recreation groups.

"We're very pleased with the caliber of the candidates," Small said.

The city received 140 applications for the director job.

The Parks and Recreation job in Steamboat is unique in that the department oversees several amenities, including the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena, Howelsen Hill, the Howelsen Ice Arena and the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

The city’s parks division oversees 28 parks totaling more than 1,000 acres.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Comments

bill schurman 4 months, 1 week ago

For Triple Crown, Inc, it's all about $$$$$$$ and the local residents be damned. Let them go elsewhere.

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Mark Ruckman 4 months, 1 week ago

I understand it as a win/win relationship between Steamboat and Triple Crown.

I can understand the concern about traffic and fast cars on Pamela Lane, and wonder if there is a middle ground. If an officer was parked there during all Triple Crown events to manage traffic and locals safety, could the win/win relationship be expanded?

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 1 week ago

City promised Pamela Lane residents that usage of Emerald fields would be limited until the park has separate access. If city wants to increase usage then create the alternate access.

Blaming the railroad for delays is a weak excuse. The railroad is not an inept group that has troubles negotiating. The railroad has specific rules and they don't negotiate as much as tell you how it will be.

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Harvey Lyon 4 months, 1 week ago

There are many issues to Triple Crown and Emerald Park. Pamela Lane is just one of them.

We have quite a short summer and Little League/American Legion and soccer are going strong. The kids are out of school and every field is occupied by Triple Crown. There's no place for a Dad and kid to throw a ball in 3 Counties save Emerald.

Folks are getting married at the Botanical Park as well as visiting.

Parents are visiting and kids are playing at the gym sets there. Folks are picnicing and walking their dogs.

Its pretty simple......when you invite your friends over to your home they are generally not invited into your bedroom. Emerald was built (94/95) on the premise that it was a local's Park. In fact it was built to free up Howelsen for Triple Crown Softball and Baseball. Previously baseball and soccer had to play in the fall....for 3 weeks only. The Banks, GOCO, The City and private donors all agreed to that need and design back then. There are also countless hours of resident donated time and professional services that went into that Park. I know...I was there and probably have $40k worth of donated professional services. And while my kids are grown.....we still have many kids in town which plays a big part of it being The Town of Steamboat :)

As I've said for the last 20 years, if it makes financial sense to build more baseball fields then lets build them. But don't strip our local youth of the right to throw a ball during their short summers. Lets not strip folks the right to go to the botanical park and lets don't strip parents the right to "have a catch" or kick a soccer ball around......all in chasing the mighty dollar.

Emerald is a treasure...just like the vision was in building it. It provides easy access for fishing, biking and all sorts of things. It allows folks to drop off their kids and believe they are safe despite the large number of visitors in town. It gives our retired community a chance to see what will grow around here. It offers a place for pick up soccer to all....including our hispanic community. Its working just liked planned, even better...LOL

Lets continue to keep some private things private.

Harv Lyon

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Scott Wedel 4 months, 1 week ago

BTW, didn't YVEA buy 20 acres or so at a great price in order to give themselves future flexibility? So couldn't the city ask to lease a chunk of that land for fields until YVEA needs that property? I'm guessing that it cannot cost that much to build some fields that already have good access via the current road to nowhere.

And then everyone wins.

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Pat West 4 months, 1 week ago

I think our town is winning by having Triple Crown come for tournaments, I don't think the Emerald parks should be on the table, and feel Triple Crown isn't going to leave town if we once again refuse their request. It's understandable that they want to expand their operations here, but at this time we are not in a position to allow more field access. Maybe once the new access is built, this arrangement can be rethought, both triple Crown and the city have know the Pamela lane access is problematic. Both Triple Crown and Steamboat can continue winning with our current field agreement.

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