David Scully is all smiles as he visits with a group of Referendum 2A supporters after learning that the ballot referendum had passed Tuesday evening. The group gathered at Carl’s Tavern on Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs to celebrate the victory.

Photo by John F. Russell

David Scully is all smiles as he visits with a group of Referendum 2A supporters after learning that the ballot referendum had passed Tuesday evening. The group gathered at Carl’s Tavern on Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs to celebrate the victory.

Steamboat Springs voters overwhelmingly support spending lodging tax on trails, Yampa promenade


— Voters in Steamboat Springs resoundingly have embraced the plan to spend millions of dollars of the city's lodging tax on local trail projects and a new promenade on Yampa Street.


Steamboat Springs City Council member Scott Myller congratulates David Scully after a group of 2A supporters learned the ballot referendum had passed Tuesday evening. The group gathered at Carl’s Tavern on Yampa Street in downtown to celebrate the victory.


Collin Kelley, a supporter of 2A, checks results on his phone Tuesday night. The ballot referendum, which dedicates for 10 years Steamboat's lodging tax to new bike trails and improvements on Yampa Street, passed easily in Tuesday night's election.


David Scully was all smiles as he visited with Tracy Barnett, manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, and other 2A supporters Tuesday evening. The group gathered at Carl’s Tavern on Yampa Street in downtown to celebrate the victory.

Election 2013

Click here for coverage of this year's races and issues.

With the approval of 71 percent of city voters, the 1 percent tax paid by lodging guests will be dedicated to those uses for the next decade.

“I think it's a great thing for our community, and it's going to bring a lot of value to our visitors,” Bike Town USA Director Doug Davis said after the election results were tallied. “I'm happy and proud our groups worked so hard on this.”

Davis said cheers at Carl's Tavern suddenly turned to a discussion of the work that must be done in the days, weeks and years to come.

Asked Monday what would happen next if the ballot initiative was approved, City Council President Bart Kounovsky said the council as soon as next week would start to discuss the formation of a possible steering committee or committees that would help oversee the distribution of the money.

Council still will have the ultimate authority over the distribution of the funds on the two projects.

In the short term, the tax dollars could be used to fund things such as an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail and trail projects on Emerald Mountain.

In the long term, the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance has outlined an extensive portfolio of projects that could be completed with the tax dollars.

Proponents of the Yampa Street promenade have said they plan to use the funding to acquire and convert into a park a vacant parcel near Seventh and Yampa streets.

The property is an important part of the plan to create pocket parks on the street and add a 16- to 24-foot-wide sidewalk.

The approval of the lodging tax spending marks the end of a more than yearlong quest to decide how to spend the lodging tax after it was done retiring debt on Haymaker Golf Course.

“We're very excited about it,” said David Scully, spokesman of the Yes to 2A campaign committee that included downtown stakeholders, members of the Trails Alliance and support from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “We're excited to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The first step is to work and get that steering committee formed. After that, we'll go through and prioritize the trails, and a lot of that depends on available grants.”

The Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance's quest to secure the lodging tax money wasn't always a smooth ride.

The city last year convened a lodging tax committee that vetted more than 30 proposals from the community for how to spend the dollars.

The ideas ranged from new public restrooms in town to the construction of a new community field house.

The trails projects quickly gained traction with the committee.

In the final hours of vetting, members were torn between sharing the revenue with the promenade proposal or going all in on the trails.

They decided to recommend only funding the trails.

But after wrestling with the choice for several weeks, the Steamboat Springs City Council, which has the ultimate authority over the tax, decided on the current ballot proposal that shares some of the revenue.

The city will split most of the tax revenue between the trails and the promenade until the promenade receives $900,000, likely after three years.

Then, the majority of the tax will be dedicated to trail projects with a small amount going to the marketing of the amenities and capital improvements at Haymaker Golf Course.

“It wasn't one group that made this happen,” Davis said. “It was a collaboration of so many people. We're excited, and we're proud.”

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

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Harvey Lyon 3 years, 3 months ago

You know...I'd like to thank the Golf Course Committee, most specifically Tom Ptach. Without their excellent work, detailed planning and execution, ability to stick to a budget and give us Haymaker none of this new use for the tax would be possible!

Thanks Guys....fine work!


Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

The question was never over building trails as that would have easily passed the city council so the election didn't cause anything different to happen in the short term funding than would have happened regardless.

The question is whether a 10 year funding commitment is a better method than annual funding requests. The question is whether the government boards and committees that are given the job of spending this money will be as effective as Trails Alliance at selecting projects. And critically, whether that process will poison public opinion so that when the 10 years expires that there is no expectation of ever getting funding for another trail.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, my warnings and predictions are still relevant. Now it is up to Trails Alliance to not let government control ruin things for them.

This is now day 1 of a 10 year process.


John St Pierre 3 years, 3 months ago

all this talk about trails...... the other side of this is going to be the nice bail out of speculators sitting on riverfront property on Yampa street..... will be curious to see if the Pilot stays on top of how much it will cost as the city moves to purchase them....for the "parks"


Harvey Lyon 3 years, 3 months ago


Personally I have no problem, in fact applaude (sp?) when a speculator profits from his vision and risk.

We have US 40 running thru Steamboat....trucks, noise, etc. I like the vibrant community on Lincoln and believe the main street redesign has worked out quite well....lots of foot traffic from both locals and visitors alike.

But Yampa has great potential too. Especially for summer time. And wher Vail spent billions making a "River Walk" with very expensive parking we have a chance to make a really nice business and Government area that will stand the test of time. Yampa can be a very romantic area of restaurants and bars, daytime business and quite nights (except when the train comes thru which ads its own excitement).

All the great Cities of the World have "River Walks" vibrant with both romance and business. I've been to most of them. And none have a chance to be as beautiful as Steamboat's Yampa.


Harvey Lyon 3 years, 3 months ago

Sometime in the future I envision the "pocket parks" will have natual gas fire pits and vendors selling the kits to make smores. I envision heat lamps and a wide romantic sidewalk. I envision "winter activities" at the rodeo grounds such as a recreational ice skating rink, perhaps a band. I envision lots of folks "tubing" at Howelson then going into the lodge and sticking their feet up at the fire while sipping hot chocolate.

There will be activities for all ages. Restaurants for all budgets. Vendors selling all sorts of things from hot pretzils to Irish Coffee.

And Lincoln will benefit too. As will the "connecting streets"

There is so much potential to making Yampa a "World Class" amazing place its scary. The place is naturally beautiful, the setting "given by the Gods". It will be a "destination place" that lovers and families wish to experience....over and over again.


Sally TeStrake 3 years, 3 months ago

Harvey - you have some great ideas for Yampa Street - perhaps you should consider joining "the possible steering committee or committees that would help oversee the distribution of the money"?


Harvey Lyon 3 years, 3 months ago

I can see areas set aside for local bands and instrumentals to set up, I can see Alpine horns and Classical Violins. I can see unplugged guitars, rock and folk. I can see areas set aside for the use of MJ and areas where MJ is prohibited.

In summer I can see picnic areas, a great place to get off one's bike and have a sandwich provided by a local vendor.

I can see shadow lights on the frozen Yampa river because it truly is beautiful wheather running or frozen.

I can see all things, Howelson, the Business Community, the Rodeo Grounds, Steamboat's natural good nature and desire for a mosest profit to come together here providing for a wonderful time betwen bot local and visitor alike.

Hell of a vision I have...LOL


Neil O'Keeffe 3 years, 3 months ago

That is one hell of a vision Harvey, makes me laugh. Thanks for sharing!


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