Another victory for Arnold Barn preservation in Steamboat Springs
May 16, 2017
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council has agreed to make an initial investment in a plan to secure a more-visible home for a nearly 90-year-old barn that is a relic of the city's western heritage.
Acting as the city's Redevelopment Authority, the council on Tuesday voted 4-1 to spend up to $50,000 on blueprints that will be needed to move the Arnold Barn up the hill from the Meadows Parking Lot and make it an iconic entry feature at the doorstep of Steamboat Ski Area.
The vision is to preserve the neglected barn at the intersection of Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle and add a small parking lot and interpretive signage in front of it.
Tuesday's vote approving the blueprints for the barn's eventual relocation was the latest victory for a structure that went from being in a serious state of neglect to the focus of a large grassroots campaign to save it.
The council's vote followed passionate pleas from community members and historic preservationists to preserve the barn for future generations.
"This was a beautiful barn," Community Agriculture Alliance Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh said of the structure, which was built as the centerpiece of a dairy farm in the late 1920s. "She weathered many a storm, nobly standing her ground."
Daughenbaugh said saving the barn would be something "we could all brag about" at dinner parties.
"It doesn't matter that she is no longer a working barn. What is important is that people will have the opportunity to see the size and strength of her character," Daughenbaugh said.
Late last year, the city sued the current property owners and a developer at the site for failing to take care of the structure, despite previous development agreements the city thinks called for its preservation.
But after the defendants in the suit offered to pay to stabilize the structure and gift it and some surrounding land to Steamboat Ski Area to care for, the council endorsed a pending plan to drop the litigation.
City Attorney Dan Foote said Tuesday the agreement appears to be on track for finalization in a few weeks, pending some title issues that must be resolved.
The legal agreement only ensures the barn will be stabilized for at least two years.
A relocation of the barn — which would involve taxpayer dollars and is only in the beginning stages of council approval — would aim to make it stand for decades to come.
With an end to the legal barn brawl in sight, the city's Urban Renewal Advisory Authority Advisory Committee wanted to shuffle some tax funding around this year to pay for initial plans to relocate the barn.
Using the barn as an iconic entry feature at the base of the ski area has been discussed now for a decade.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer was the lone no vote on the decision to spend taxpayer money on barn relocation plans.
She said the tax dollars that are generated from the base area Urban Renewal Area should instead be used to resolve "life safety issues," such as sidewalk connections.
"Improving sidewalks and roads: This is what taxpayer money is designed to do," she said.
Other council members felt differently.
Councilwoman Lisel Petis said leaving the barn in its dilapidated state and not ensuring it is preserved into perpetuity is a safety issue.
And Councilwoman Robin Crossan said the barn is currently an eyesore to anyone who doesn't know of its history in the community.
The city created the URA to remove blight.
Councilman Scott Ford said when the barn is preserved and moved, it will likely become the new "Steamboat Barn."
Councilman Jason Lacy recused himself from the barn vote due to a potential conflict of interest regarding past work with a developer at the barn site.
The barn's actual relocation still has not been approved.
Early estimates indicate that project, along with new sidewalk connections and landscaping in the area, could cost an additional $400,000.
Any future funding on the project will have to be approved by the council.