Howelsen Hill shines under the lights beside downtown Steamboat Springs. The city is starting a new master plan for the park.

Scott Franz/File

Howelsen Hill shines under the lights beside downtown Steamboat Springs. The city is starting a new master plan for the park.

City of Steamboat Springs working on new master plan for Howelsen Hill

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— Faced with a flurry of new ideas for Howelsen Hill that range from zip lines to an expansion of the ice arena, the city of Steamboat Springs is reaching out to the community to help shape the future of its most unique park.

The last comprehensive master plan this city adopted for the entire Howelsen Hill park talked about amenities ranging from a swimming pool in the summer to a bobsled and luge track.

That was in the early 1990s, and much has changed since then.

“We’d like to get together with some of the users of Howelsen and talk about existing uses and just what the people here in the city want to see happen at Howelsen Hill,” Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department Director John Overstreet told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night.

The new master plan will come at a time when much is in flux at Howelsen.

And it has the potential to impact almost every type of recreational user in the city in some way.

City Council members on Tuesday talked about the ongoing improvements at the rodeo grounds, plans for a new teen center and some recent discussions the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has had with Steamboat Ski Area about a possible venue for training.

Council President Bart Kounovsky said it was “wonderful” Overstreet was spearheading a new effort to reach out to the many users of the park and come up with a long-term plan.

“It’s been a long time since we sat down around the table to talk about it,” Kounovsky said.

Council member Walter Magill said a lot of the plans for the park, including designs for a new sheet of ice at the ice arena, are moving forward.

But he said some questions will need to be answered.

“Winter Sports Club is going through some changes and looking for some long-term commitments, too, on Howelsen as well as they’re working on agreements, from what I hear, with Ski Corp. to maybe do a venue up there to train on,” Magill said. “Where do all these groups want to be? And then, can you call it a sports entertainment complex stretching from the YVEA property to Blackmer Drive?”

The city will have other decisions to make about Howelsen in the future.

In her recent state of the city report, City Manager Deb Hinsvark raised the question of whether the city ever will want to bring the jumps at the park back up to a high enough standard that the city can host higher-level skiing events.

That $150,000 project currently resides on the city’s long list of parked projects and is labeled as a second priority.

Other identified capital needs at the park include more snowmaking equipment and the replacement of the magic carpet.

In drafting a new master plan, the city will have a number of user groups to work with.

The park itself includes the ice arena, the ski hill, multi-use trails, the rodeo grounds, a tubing facility, outdoor playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, a concert venue and an equestrian stable, among other amenities.

The biggest user groups banded together last year and wanted to use the city’s lodging tax to enhance the entire park by adding things like a gravity center and a Nordic center.

However, some members of the lodging tax committee that weighed the proposal against the others were concerned about the need for the city to continue subsidizing the amenities.

Overstreet said city staff is working to launch the new master planning process sometime later this month.

He said the city is reaching out to all of the groups that use the hill from the Winter Sports Club to the Rodeo Board in order to start the dialogue.

“I think it’s good to bring it up to the public and see what the public wants out of the hill and the park,” Overstreet said.

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

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