Our View: Time has come to allow Triple Crown pilot program at Emerald Park

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We think the time has come for the city of Steamboat Springs to allow a pilot program to permit a limited number of Triple Crown youth baseball games to be played on the forbidden diamonds at Emerald Park. That’s the only way the community can judge just how much traffic that step would add to the existing traffic that disturbs residents on Trafalgar and Pamela lanes.

At issue

Triple Crown’s request to host youth baseball tournament games at Emerald Park

Our view

It’s time to play ball, roll the Steamboat Springs Transit shuttle buses and give Triple Crown a trial run.

Steamboat Today editorial board — June to December 2013

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • David Baldinger Jr., community representative
  • Lisa Brown, 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.

We don’t disagree that a new access from U.S. Highway 40, if it were affordable and feasible, would be preferable. But 11 years have passed since an earlier Steamboat Springs City Council resolved to get that accomplished, and we editorialized in favor of the plan at an estimated cost of $2 million to $4 million. The lineup has changed, but the city still is hitless.

Now, we find ourselves wondering if adding Triple Crown traffic to a few of weekends in June really would represent a significant change for the residents of the neighborhood, or if it’s all of the other events at the nearby parks (including local youth sports and weddings and concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park) that represent the bulk of the traffic disturbance. We also find ourselves wondering how the community can continue formally discriminating against one group of youth sports teams while hosting others.

Yes, Triple Crown is a for-profit business, but the baseball families who come here to spend their summer vacations are no different from any of the other visitors who help us to fill our municipal coffers. According to Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern, Triple Crown brings in 16,000 players and visitors to Steamboat each summer and an estimated $6 million annually in lodging alone.

We think practical considerations, more than cost, could make it infeasible to build the new U.S. 40 access to Emerald. Union Pacific Railroad will require abandonment of more than one other railroad crossing in exchange for the new crossing. That means it no longer would be possible to cross from one side of the tracks to the other on two existing roads.

We offer an alternative.

Steamboat already uses its transit bus to shuttle spectators to the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in July and the Wild West Air Fest on Labor Day weekend. Why not save a few million dollars and apply the same strategy to Triple Crown’s request to utilize the youth baseball diamonds at Emerald Park?

Using buses to shuttle athletes and their families to matches during the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament also might alleviate traffic and commotion for the 26 households along Trafalgar and Pamela lanes.

Some of the residents near Emerald Park (and they are valued members of the community) have reminded us that a long-ago City Council promised them Triple Crown teams would not be allowed to play ball in Emerald Park.

But here’s the hard truth. City Councils don’t bind their successors by making promises. Instead, they vote to approve ordinances. And when it comes to city ordinances, they can be amended and changed at any time.

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Comments

Harvey Lyon 4 months ago

"Views" and opinions are like arm pits. Everybody has one or two....some stink and others don't.

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Scott Ford 4 months ago

Hi Harry – Arm pits and opinions - this is a great metaphor. I likely will use this in some of the upcoming discussion City Council will have on this topic and other topics.

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rhys jones 4 months ago

Scott -- That is a fairly innocuous analogy, suitable for public use. The version I heard compares opinions to another orifice, saying they all stink.

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Al Reiner 4 months ago

Okay; when they DEMAND use of the pilots front yard for parking, and require the town take them to Walmart, Safeway and Citymarket for beer runs we must give in or they will run to Kremling, Hayden, or maybe Walden LET THEM GO

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Scott Wedel 4 months ago

It is sort of an odd logic to suggest that since 11 years have past since the last decision then it should be overturned. None of the facts of the park's access being a residential road have changed. It is a pretty telling indication the city's priorities that $600,000 can be spent on a prettier median for hwy 40, but nothing is spent in 11 years for providing an alternate access.

As for the railroad wanting fewer crossings, I note that OC has nearly as many as SB. In theory, SB could find two crossings outside of SB and help get them closed. SB could pay for an overpass at CR 27 in cooperation with the county and improve one of Bell or Sharp crossings and close the other. I've been told by by the railroad central dispatch when reporting a broken crossing gate that Sharp Ave crossing is on the railroad's list of dangerous crossings due to the grade sloping towards the tracks from the south side. So on icy days it is possible for a vehicle to be unable to stop and slide into the train. And the water drains into the tracks sometimes causing ice to buildup on the tracks which can derail a train. And a train could block all of OC's crossings denying emergency access from half the town. SB could probably find grant money to help pay for the improvements and so it would be a win win for all.

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Pat West 4 months ago

I'm fine with 16,000 Triple Crown visitors, and thanks for the $6mil in lodging, but it's OK to stay at this level, and not allow access to the Emerald fields until better access is built.

Triple Crown has the right to keep asking, but until the reason for our "no" is changed, they should understand why we still say no.

Or we could say yes, change the speed limit on Pamela to 5mph, have a SSPD radar every car entering via Pamela, and issues tickets to all offenders. Install a construction site midway, and warn "fines double in construction". We could even tell the Triple crown drivers of the zero tolerance for speeding on this road, and see if they can mind their manners, or pay.

PS: Do not allow anyone out of the speeding cars until the traffic stop is complete, so anyone racing to a game late would be detained for speeding and miss their event. This would show Triple Crown our commitment to safe streets, as well as working with them to open the Emerald fields for their use.

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bill schurman 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Limited # today, overrun tomorrow. But then that's OK with the Chamber and the Pamela Lane residents be damned.

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John Weibel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Why not move the crossing for Emerald park and Pamela Lane to enter into the parking lot and then traffic moves onto Pamela Lane? If someone wants to go left onto Lincoln/40 then go down the road behind Freshies to the light there and make the turn onto Lincoln/40 a right only.

Guess that would be change and people don't like change.

Though, that would improve the totality of traffic for the residents and facilitate allowing more use of emerald fields for other events. Maybe the city could turn the actual road surface that is closed into a home site on the Pamela side of the tracks and a commercial lot on the 40 side of the tracks and the funds from the lots that are created by closing the road to pay for some of the construction. Get triple crown to pay for a portion of the road and repay them some based upon actual additional teams brought into town at a rate of X/team.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 4 weeks ago

City could build an overpass at Emerald so that there is no at grade crossing and so solves the crossing issue.

The real issue is not a lack of possible solutions, but that the city has not budgeted any money for 11 years to make any changes of the current situation. And now the fact that nothing has changed is being used as a justification as to why more traffic should be put on a residential street. It is purely the city's fault that nothing has changed in 11 years.

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