Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs residents who want to help oversee the distribution of millions of dollars worth of the city's lodging tax in the next decade should start dusting off their resumes.
The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night voted to create two, seven-member committees that will help to prioritize funding for the trail and Yampa River Promenade projects that voters agreed should be funded by the tax.
The trails steering committee will include one member of the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance, a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association member, one member of the lodging community and four at-large seats.
The steering committee for the Yampa River Promenade will be identical except that it will include a member of the downtown revitalization committee instead of a person from the Trails Alliance.
The three set positions will serve three-year terms, and the at-large seats will carry two-year limits.
Bike Town USA and the leaders of the promenade project had recommended a more specific makeup of the committees, but the City Council was hesitant to dictate the qualifications for all of the committee slots.
“I think we do a disservice by trying to get into the weeds of who sits on the committee,” council member Kenny Reisman said before he suggested the approved compositions of the steering groups.
The city soon will start accepting applications for the committees, and applicants will be interviewed Dec. 17.
The formation of the steering committee is a big step forward following the approval of Referendum 2A, which will dedicate an estimated $5.1 million to trail projects and $900,000 to the promenade in the coming years.
The work of the Yampa committee should be more straightforward as proponents of the project have indicated they want to use that money to purchase an empty parcel of land near Seventh and Yampa streets and convert it into a park.
A bridge could be constructed there in the future to better connect downtown and Howelsen Hill.
The seven-member steering committee for the trails projects will have a lot more to talk about.
Some lodging tax dollars immediately will go toward trail projects on Emerald Mountain, but the committee has a portfolio of more than 40 trail projects from which to choose.
They range from an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail to downhill mountain biking trails around the city.
The entire portfolio of trails is worth more than $20 million, according to an analysis by the city.
On Tuesday night, the council also tackled an agenda item that could affect the work of the steering committee.
City staff talked about the possible extension of the Core Trail south to Legacy Ranch.
Winnie DelliQuadri, the city's grant writer, gave a detailed presentation of the project and outlined all of the challenges it faces.
They range from having to possibly construct three expensive bridges to building the trail on wetlands and through a floodplain.
The city has been invited to apply in the spring for a grant that could generate as much as $1 million for the project.
Early estimates put the trail extension cost anywhere from $1.4 million to $4.4 million. DelliQuadri said more planning and studies need to be done to nail down an exact cost.
The council signed off on a $50,000 investment to get the rest of the planning done, but some council members were torn as to whether any lodging tax dollars should be used on the project.
“It wraps up the money for too long for what this proposal was about,” Reisman said referring to the Trails Alliance plan.
That sentiment was echoed by Bike Town USA President David Scully, who said the city should consider funding it from its own budget.
Council Member Tony Connell said the Core Trail extension fits well into what voters approved when they endorsed Referendum 2A.
Other agenda highlights
Bus driver shortage
City Manager Deb Hinsvark said the city should have enough money in its budget to pay drivers overtime to overcome a shortage of seasonal bus drivers this winter.
The council did not object to that plan. Service reductions were being considered as an alternative to the overtime.
After the meeting, Steamboat Springs Transit Director Jonathan Flint said the city continues to receive applications for drivers.
Liquor license approved
In one of the most contentious liquor license hearings in the city's history, the council voted, 5-1, to approve a new liquor store and deli across the street from Market on the Mountain.
SBS Village Liquors plans to offer a climate-controlled wine cellar and weekly wine tastings in the winter.
The owners of the building where Market on the Mountain is located objected to the new store, saying it was already meeting the needs of the community with its wine and beer offerings.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.
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