Our View: A move in the right direction

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The Steamboat Springs City Council voted last week to enter into negotiations to purchase a small piece of residential property at 603 Yampa St. with plans to develop the parcel into a riverside pocket park. The action followed a recommendation made to council by the Yampa Street lodging tax committee, which is tasked with helping decide how the lodging tax dollars earmarked for the project (as much as $900,000 throughout two years) are spent.

Steamboat Today editorial board — May to September 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Tyler Goodman, community representative
  • John Merrill, community representative

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We support the City Council’s move to try to buy the property, and we agree with council member Tony Connell’s assessment that the time to buy is now rather than later, as property values are sure to rise.

Connell and fellow council member Walter Magill showed strong leadership in pushing the council for action on the committee’s recommendation in a 4-3 decision. They were joined in their affirmative votes by Kenny Reisman and Bart Kounovsky.

The council’s move to try to purchase riverside property also makes sense because there are few undeveloped pieces of property left along Yampa Street and this particular parcel, located on the south side of the street along the river, is a prime spot to create a public park with prime river access. It fits with the overall vision for Yampa Street and would provide a good catalyst for future development.

Although Yampa Street has many strengths, one of its weaknesses is a lack of public access to the river.

With the railroad occupying the southside of the river between Yampa Street and Howelsen Hill, we think the creation of public places where kids and families can dangle their feet in the river or picnic alongside the water is pivotal to the overall vision and success of the Yampa Street promenade project. The purchase of the 603 Yampa St. property is one of the few opportunities left to make this happen.

The property at 603 Yampa St. is well located next to the existing Lions Park, offering the opportunity to add another 125 feet of riverside access to the east end of Yampa Street. A pocket park at this location, with amenities like gazebos, picnic shelters or a small outdoor skating rink, would serve to welcome visitors to the river district and strengthen the appeal of the entire business district.

Developing this property into a park has the potential to accelerate progress of the Yampa Street promenade project, which in turn will create an engaging river district, grow the city’s tax base and expand downtown beyond busy Lincoln Avenue.

We acknowledge that the purchase of property along the river will consume a large chunk of the lodging tax money with little left to spend toward developing the park or building an actual promenade. The $900,000 earmarked for the project from the lodging tax money is finite and never was intended to finance all planned improvements, which are estimated to cost $2.8 million excluding land costs.

In our opinion, the property purchase represents a good first step. The next step must involve pursuing grant opportunities and also working toward establishing a business improvement district and possible Urban Renewal District to provide long-term support for the park as well as funding for other planned amenities like sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

We wholeheartedly support the vision for a revitalized Yampa Street, and we think any money the city puts into the project is an investment in future sales tax dollars that is beneficial to visitors and locals alike.

Comments

Martha D Young 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Where is the market research that shows that adding "pocket parks" to Yampa Street will result in added revenue? Seems to me the money would be better spent on sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly amenities, rather than obligating the city to untold dollars of park maintenance. And who says an urban renewal district is a sure thing? No one wants their property tax payments skimmed, or to have to pay additional taxes. Thanks to the three council members who voted against this proposed extravagance.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 3 weeks ago

"... never was intended to finance all planned improvements, which are estimated to cost $2.8 million excluding land costs."

That list of planned improvements is just a wish list. It isn't any sort of needed project list. If they had more money to do more of the wish list then the wish list would be expanded.

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Cresean Sterne 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Kudos to you Martha. Its kinda like when one needs a new roof for their house at anexpense of $20,000 but instead goes out and buys a $40,000 deck boat. I hope that more of the community steps up and sees that this is an unecessary materialistic expense that is going to create a parking and detour frenzy and will probably then let the city sneak back in with their pd parking proposal. Starting to sound like sneaky greedy Vail (fail) .

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cindy constantine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This unnecessary expense is sure to be a catalyst for the sun setting of this tax in five years!! It really goes against the spirit of the additional 1/4% sales tax sold to the voters. While the Pilot promotes affordable housing, pocket parks, etc. etc. the local population is hurt by higher sales taxes as the "wish list" gets bigger and bigger. We can only hope the city is out-bid for this property by private interests who plan on developing it into another sales tax generating commercial use? . . . . I'm with Martha on this and give kudos to the Council Members who just said no!!

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