Some Steamboat City Council members disappointed city has to forgo chance to apply for $1 million Core Trail extension grant

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— A $1 million grant opportunity that would have helped the city of Steamboat Springs extend the Yampa River Core Trail didn't die quietly Tuesday night in Centennial Hall.

At the end of a sometimes tense discussion about the grant, the majority of the Steamboat Springs City Council ultimately accepted city staff's decision to not apply for it.

But nobody was happy about the decision.

The escalating cost of the trail extension south to the Legacy Ranch and a lack of any matching funds in the budget to get it done led city staff to the decision last week.

A few council members said Tuesday that they wished they had more time to think it over as well as an opportunity to deliberate on the city's decision to not apply.

“I don't think we've heard all of the options and opportunities available on this,” council member Sonja Macys said.

Macys, however, was forced to step down from the conversation because a majority of her fellow council members perceived she had a conflict of interest as the director of Yampatika, which runs the Legacy Ranch that is proposed to be connected to the Core Trail.

Macys felt that wasn't a conflict because it was "laughable" to think that Yampatika would benefit financially from the Core Trail extension.

Macys and council member Tony Connell were critical of city staff's decision to not apply before having council deliberate about it this week.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark responded to the criticism by explaining the city simply did not have the $2.3 million in matching funds needed to go forward with the grant application project in the wake of the new lodging tax steering committee's decision to only recommend the project receive about 6 percent of the project cost.

“It was a tough decision,” Hinsvark said as she outlined how the cost of the project jumped from $1.7 million last year to the current $3.5 million because of a number of issues including the need for expensive bridges. “I don't have $2.3 million to hand you and say to go for this grant. We can't go ask for this grant.”

Tuesday's discussion of the Core Trail grant also spurred a short debate about the role of city funding to help accomplish the trails projects that are set to receive the backing of the lodging tax.

Eric Meyer, one of the leaders of the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance, said it was “tough” to see the city not move forward with a grant application it had a good chance of getting.

He also said the city should invest more from its own capital improvement budget toward trail and sidewalk projects.

Council member Kenny Reisman said the council should keep in mind that the overwhelming support for Referendum 2A and the trails projects was not a “mandate” for the city to spend from its own budget to leverage grants on the Core Trial or on any of the other 46 projects put forth by the Trails Alliance.

“The voters voted on spending lodging tax dollars on these trails,” Reisman said. “They did not vote to spend $2.3 million out of reserves that have built up” to get a grant for the Core Trail.

While the Core Trail grant spurred much discussion, the council easily voted to back another GOCO grant moments later.

The city is submitting an application for $105,000 worth of GOCO funding that would be used to improve the safety of the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.

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

Comments

John St Pierre 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Question begs to be asked once again.... WHO IS RUNNING THE CITY????

THE ELECTED OFFICIALS or THE EMPLOYEE"S ??????

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Cresean Sterne 8 months, 2 weeks ago

OHHH.....Here we go once again with the city council!! I agree with you 100% John. This has become a tiresome norm. It is quite apparent that they have their own agend and it doesnt involve truly what Stmbt is and was, only what they want it to become. IMO,, they always seem to focusus around some sort of realeststate transaction more then the true community needs and wants and thats just unexceptable. Seems like a code of ethics violation to me..The core trail is a major staple and has made Stmbt unique from just about anywhere. I dont know a person in town that doesnt use it. The city should be using verything in their power to maintain, improve and expand it. (This goes for all of our public facillities and our open space as well. (Rita Valentine Park is another example that never should have come into discussion).

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Fred Duckels 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Chasing and matching grants is the road to ruin along with good intentions. We have to be willing to pass up a bargain sometimes.

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Tim Keenan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe I don't understand the economic/citizen benefit of this. We're talking 3.5 mil to go a mile. What's down there that people would benefit from access to? I ask that question seriously, as someone who doesn't know that area well. Meanwhile, some dangerous roads/streets in this town still lack sidewalks.

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Cresean Sterne 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Your right Tim, there is not alot down there and our roads and sidewalks definately need to be kept maintained. The harsh winters create most of this damge I would think, not to mention the amount of underground springs ground water erosion and Colorado's expansive soil. I would also like to see more effort to make repairs when needed instead of waiting untill the repair becomes a replacement. But I am always one for the expansion of our core trail. With Stmbt becomeing much more populated throughout the years, the core trail through town has also seen a huge increase in its use. Being able to expand the core trail in either direction is something I am always for. Steamboat is know to be one of the most athletic towns in Colorado and pretty much Oympic Town USA. (Yah I said it). Expanding the core trail would be a huge bennefit to any athlete, runner, biker or to anyone who just wants to get out and go on a stroll. Not to mention getting some of the bikers and walkers off the main highway which is apparently becomeing dangerous west of town past Sleepy Bear to Stmbt II. The core trail has been molded into Steamboats fabrication since its inception and I hope that it continues to grow for everyones bennefit.

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Cresean Sterne 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Hilltop is a great example of where I see people walking on the road. I agree Tim that anywhere that a sidewalk can be put to keep people off the road should always be considered. There is river access out through legacy but I am not sure if the trail will access it due to private land. I hope in some way that it is possible.

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