Steamboat Springs Proponents of the plan to add a series of pocket parks and attractions to Yampa Street got some encouraging news Tuesday night.
The city of Steamboat Springs will start to negotiate for a small residential property on Yampa with the intention of turning it into one of the riverside parks envisioned for the street.
By a vote of 4-3, the Steamboat City Council directed city staff to start negotiating a purchase price for 603 Yampa St., a lot that currently houses a yellow single-family home.
Council members who were supportive of the move said they think the proposal would make the street a more vibrant place.
However, they cautioned that they would need to see where the final price falls and understand the operating and maintenance plan for a park there before taking the next step of purchasing the property.
Some opponents of the move questioned whether the purchase of the land is a cost effective, or even necessary, piece of the larger plan to improve Yampa.
The property, owned by Leland and Linda Workman, was just appraised at $610,000.
A committee of downtown stakeholders and community members recommended the city use some of the $900,000 of lodging tax dollars that were approved for Yampa improvements on the purchase of the property.
Siding with the majority of the council that wanted to start negotiating for the property, member Walter Magill called the recommendation a good idea to pursue.
Magill said he agreed with the committee that a series of pocket parks will increase the vibrancy of the street.
"I think we have to take the first step," Magill said.
Council President Bart Kounovsky and members Kenny Reisman and Tony Connell also supported the move to start negotiating for the property.
Member Scott Myller questioned whether a park there was necessary and said he was "lukewarm" to the idea.
Scott Ford questioned the cost effectiveness of purchasing the property and converting it into a park.
"I'm going to oppose this one only from the standpoint that we're only buying….125 feet (of riverfront access) and is that really going to make that much of a difference?" Ford said.
Sonja Macys didn't want to act on any of the Yampa Street recommendations until the council was presented with a clear plan for what it would take to maintain the new amenities.
She also asked if the Workmans were willing to sell the property.
Jill Brabec, a member of the lodging tax committee, responded that the Workmans "seem open minded to the idea," but the committee did not feel it was its job to start negotiating with them.
The park is one of two projects the committee is recommending to be funded by the lodging tax dollars. Its other recommendation is to convert the city's parking lot at 911 Yampa St. into a pocket park with river access.
"I think there's a pretty strong sense of urgency to get going with this," Brabec said of the projects, adding they will add more public spaces on Yampa that will "draw you down the street."
Committee members have stressed at recent meetings that although these two projects have risen to the top of their priorities, the group remains committed to the entire vision of creating a promenade and series of pocket parks on Yampa Street.
Because the parking lot at Ninth and Yampa streets already is owned by the city, the council did not see any urgency in acting on the recommendation to turn it into a park.
The committee also agreed the removal of the 20 parking spaces in the lot would have to be addressed before that plan moves forward.
The initial cost estimate of converting both properties into parks totals $1.03 million, a figure that is more than the lodging tax dollars available for Yampa Street improvements.
Brabec said part of the project cost could be covered by such things as sponsorships, grants and other funding mechanisms.
The committee said the types of amenities for both parks still are being considered.
Possible attractions that have been mentioned so far include a small seasonal ice rink, gazebos and picnic shelters and improved access to the river.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10