Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council this week will discuss the possibility of the city investing in a downtown property that could facilitate another pedestrian bridge over the Yampa River.
The owner of 655 Yampa Street pitched the property to the city in the fall with a price tag of $1.3 million.
Some council members dismissed the proposal at the time and questioned how the city would be able to fit the project, which might also include a pocket park, into its capital budget.
Others appeared more open to looking into the idea further and trying to see if a lower price tag could be secured.
“I see the benefit of a bridge, wholeheartedly, but it’s an expensive bridge,” councilwoman Heather Sloop said.
Council President Walter Magill said if the city were to pursue the parcel, it would spread itself too thin, because it has higher priorities downtown.
The council also debated whether adding a third pedestrian bridge from Yampa Street to Howelsen Hill would encourage more people to park in the large lots on the other side of the river.
Since the fall discussion, the city has met with the realtor of the property, which is located next to E3 Chophouse near Seventh and Yampa streets, to discuss options.
And the options range greatly in cost.
The proposals from realtor Jim Cook include purchasing the entire property, acquiring a portion of the property for $298,000, acquiring a 10-foot-wide trail and bridge easement on the parcel for $100,000 or doing nothing and waiting until a private party purchases the parcel.
Under the final scenario, the city could still work to secure a trail easement when the property went through the planning process.
If the council is interested in guaranteeing a future pedestrian bridge over the Yampa at the site, city staff is recommending the purchase of the $100,000 trail easement.
The pedestrian bridge and underpass at the railroad tracks is currently estimated to cost $2 million.
The project is anticipated to take several years, because negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad would have to take place.
The new structure would be the third pedestrian bridge connecting downtown to Howelsen Hill and the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena via Yampa Street and the fourth to cross the river in the greater downtown area.
Bridges currently exist along Yampa at Fifth and Ninth streets and West Lincoln Park.
Main Street Steamboat Springs Board President Sally TeStrake said Friday the downtown organization hasn’t held any recent discussions about the prospect of the bridge.
“We haven’t spoken about it at Main Street at all, recently, and I haven’t heard anyone else proposing it,” she said “It’s still status quo, but I think people would still be in favor of it.”
TeStrake said she personally would like to see the vacant lot become a public park that might also include a small stage for performances.
“It’s not going to be huge or be able to accommodate a Free Summer Concert, but it could host small, informal gatherings or things like Piknik Theatre,” she said. “I think it could be utilized for both pedestrian access across the river and for a gathering space. That’s just my personal viewpoint.”
The council will discuss the options for the property Tuesday during a workshop session.
The council does not take votes at work sessions, but it could give staff some direction.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10