The Yampa Street lodging tax committee decided the lot at Seventh and Yampa streets should be the top priority for lodging tax funding. There are visions to convert the lot, shaded in green second from the bottom, into a pocket park.

Courtesy/Cedar Beauregard

The Yampa Street lodging tax committee decided the lot at Seventh and Yampa streets should be the top priority for lodging tax funding. There are visions to convert the lot, shaded in green second from the bottom, into a pocket park.

Lodging tax committee recommends purchase of riverside lot on Yampa Street

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— The Yampa Street lodging tax committee has decided the purchase of a riverfront parcel at Yampa and Seventh streets should be Step 1 of the broader plan to transform Yampa into a more pedestrian-friendly attraction.

The committee of seven volunteers will present their recommendation April 1 to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which ultimately will decide how the $900,000 of the lodging tax that has been dedicated to Yampa Street should be spent.

Lodging tax committee members on Wednesday stressed that while the purchase and eventual conversion of the Seventh Street parcel into a park is the most immediate priority in their eyes, they want to accomplish the entire parks and promenade project with other funding sources.

“We really feel adamant that while this one piece of the project is great, it isn't as great if we don't have the whole plan in place,” committee chairman Jason Lacy said.

The decision to recommend the land purchase on Seventh Street came after the committee of seven volunteers graded the three biggest pieces of the parks and promenade project on a number of criteria ranging from its potential to promote tourism to how shovel ready it was.

The potential land purchase ranked above the installation of sidewalks and other parts of a promenade and a separate purchase of a lot at Sixth Street to convert into a park.

Because the Seventh Street lot is about to be listed for sale and could be bought by a private developer, committee members feared losing the opportunity.

There are future plans to convert the lot into a pocket park with public restrooms that also could accommodate a new pedestrian bridge across the Yampa River to Howelsen Hill.

The lodging tax committee of Realtors, lawyers and business owners was faced with a task of deciding how to best spend $300,000 annually on improvements on Yampa.

The current projected price of the lot on Seventh Street mentioned by the committee is hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive than the available lodging tax funding.

That means if the City Council is open to the recommendation, alternative funding sources would have to be identified.

Not including land costs, the Yampa River promenade project is estimated to cost $2.8 million.

Planning Director Tyler Gibbs suggested the committee first identify what its priority was and then turn to alternative funding sources.

In addition to the purchase of the Seventh Street parcel, the park and promenade project calls for the addition of a 16- to 24-foot wide sidewalk along Yampa as well as better lighting and other access points to the river.

Funding sources that are being discussed to help make this plan a reality include grants, the establishment of a new urban renewal authority downtown, utilizing a transfer of development rights program and creating a new local taxing district to generate funding for maintenance.

The committee's recommendation to first purchase the Seventh Street parcel did spur some debate about the promenade project.

Member Jill Brabec worried that “we're not buying a park, we're buying raw land."

“Unless further money comes in, we just have an empty lot,” Brabec said.

Other committee members said the purchase of the lot would have some benefits before it was converted to a park, including new public access to the river and a place to possibly stage other activities.

Gibbs said there also is the potential for volunteer work to help get it cleaned and usable.

Much of the ensuing discussion focused on the limited amount of funding the committee had to work with.

The lodging tax funding will come in the form of $300,000 per year until it reaches $900,000.

Lacy said in a way, the group was “handcuffed” by the funding, but it shouldn't deter them from pursuing the entirety of the project.

Committee members also discussed the possibility of asking the council to have the city contribute financially to the project on top of the lodging tax dollars that are generated by tourist stays.

However, some City Council members including Kenny Reisman have made it clear in recent weeks that the passage of Referendum 2A, which dedicated the lodging tax to trail projects and the Yampa Street improvements, should not be viewed as a mandate for the city to spend on the projects from its general fund.

Wednesday's recommendation from the Yampa Street lodging tax committee came as a separate committee vetting trail projects met at the same time in Centennial Hall.

The seven volunteers in the trails group have been prioritizing all of the trail projects that can be funded by an estimated $5.2 million in lodging tax revenue throughout the next decade.

The committee on Wednesday was scheduled to review potential trails on Emerald Mountain.

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

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Comments

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

Not including land costs, the Yampa River promenade project is estimated to cost $2.8 million.

Oh so, with a land purchase eating up all of their money then this becomes a vacant lot preservation and make no changes to Yampa St project.

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John Weibel 9 months ago

Wasn't 90% of the revenue to go to bike trails?

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Kevin Nerney 9 months ago

I have an idea, why not wait a couple of more years for the economy to recover further and then when the price goes up to where it was in say I don't know 2008 we can pay top dollar for riverfront property. Jeez wonder what we could do with the couple hundred grand we saved if we would have bought in '09?

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Zac Brennan 9 months ago

"Because the Seventh Street lot is about to be listed for sale and could be bought by a private developer, committee members feared losing the opportunity." Why not let a private developer do it?

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mark hartless 9 months ago

Gee, I wonder why this community doesn't have the funds for "capital needs" such as water, sewer, sidewalks, etc...

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John Fielding 9 months ago

Could be short of capital because of payments on other overpriced but nearly worthless properties, the Iron Horse and vacant land at the end of Elk River Road for affordable housing come to mind.

The lot at 7th would be a nice park but should we buy highly desirable development property at the rates justified by that demand to provide for park space? It seems to me that the next parcel upriver that has had development proposals denied because of several issues and is unlikely to be a commercial success due to those existing watercourse setback regulations could be a better buy. The lot at 7th is deep enough to avoid those development problems. and the one at 6th has much more river frontage.

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bill schurman 9 months ago

When will Yampa Street become the Yampa Street MALL ? That will necessarily worsen the already over taxed traffic on Lincoln Ave and Oak Street. But, hey any thing for the Mainstreet organization, right?

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Danielle Hubler 9 months ago

I hope everyone realizes that the reason behind the push for the promenade and the purchase of the 7th Street property is about putting money in the pockets of the Yampa St landowners, they want to increase their property values and please remember that the town voted for 2A based on trails projects the Promenade was piggy backed on it

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John St Pierre 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Your so right there..... they have not been able to sell any land there in years.... what a wonderful bailout....

Why has the Pilot not investigated or published the names of those who will benefit from this taxpayer bailout...

Why cannot the parks be developed on the opposite bank of the river where there is already a lot of parking!!! not to mention once these lots on Yampa become parks the people in the condos adjacent will start complaining about noise and access to their units!!

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scott bideau 9 months ago

In related news, the owners of the Yampa Street parcels just increased their asking price by 30%.

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jerry carlton 9 months ago

WOW Something I agree with Bill Schurman on!

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bill schurman 9 months ago

We probably agree on more than you might think.

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rhys jones 9 months ago

John Weibel is correct; they sold us this bill of goods with the promise that 90% of the intake would go to trails. Welcome to the shell game; they're all in somebody's pocket.

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Scott Wedel 9 months ago

I think that working with a developer would be the best way to get things done. The developer could get foot traffic for businesses and the promenade doesn't have to purchase a lot.

If the goal is, as is claimed, more sales tax from Yampa St businesses then there shouldn't be anything wrong with private ownership with businesses.

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