New Yampa River Park in downtown Steamboat pitched as tourism benefit

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April 6, 2011: Accommodations tax funds in spotlight in Steamboat

— Members of the Downtown Revitalization Partnership met Tuesday to finalize the details of their proposal to spend about $400,000 annually of city accommodation tax revenues to build a linear park in the form of a wide pedestrian promenade on the south side of Yampa Street. The proposal includes as many as four gathering places that would improve public access at the ends of 10th, Ninth, Seventh and Sixth streets.

The preliminary estimates are that land acquisition and development would cost between $2.3 million and

$3.4 million. Development, including new public restrooms, a small gazebo stage and the promenade itself, among other things, would cost about

$2.55 million.

“It’s a single park, and it’s a linear park with open spaces at 10th” and the other side streets, Ryan Spaustat, of Landmark Consulting, told about 25 people gathered for the meeting Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Hall. “The promenade (ranging from 16 to 24 feet in width) would connect the Core Trail all the way to Sixth Street and the existing sidewalk at Fifth Street.”

The Yampa Street proposal is just one of potentially 38 proposals due to be turned in to the city of Steamboat and its Lodging Tax Committee by Thursday for review. The groups behind the various proposals are seeking a piece of the $600,000 to $800,000 generated annually by the city’s lodging tax, which is devoted to enhancing tourism. Most of the tax's life has been devoted to paying off construction debt on Haymaker Golf Course. The tax revenue stream will be freed up for other uses in 2014.

Greencourte Partners’ Mark Scully, representing the developers of Howelsen Place and Alpen Glow condominiums and ground-level commercial spaces in downtown Steamboat, has spearheaded the Yampa Street parks proposal. He said the current real estate market, with reduced prices for development parcels, represents an ideal time to carve out public parks that will enhance tourism along the town stretch of the Yampa River.

“These parcels, if we miss them now, they’ll be gone,” Scully said.

He reminded the gathering that the monies being sought through the accommodations tax represent just one layer of financing for public improvements in the downtown shopping district. The others include a tax incremental financing plan to capture incremental property tax growth (similar to the plan used to build the promenade at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area) and a complementary business improvement district tax to raise funds from existing downtown property owners.

The various proposals on how best to use the 1 percent of lodging tax first will be reviewed by a lodging tax committee, but ultimately it will be up to the Steamboat Springs City Council to make the decision.

City grants analyst Winnie DelliQuadri said the council can be expected to trim the number of proposals that go to the second round from 38 to three or five and ask the proponents of those plans to make public presentations.

Scully said every paragraph of his group’s written plan is geared to the request for proposals and emphasizes the benefits to tourism.

Spaustat said the design of the linear park was created with the thought of how a family visiting Steamboat could begin a day by the river playing in the water, transition to spending the afternoon in an outdoor dining area like the one at Sunpie’s Bistro and then linger for dinner at another restaurant.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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