Big decisions await Steamboat Springs City Council this spring
March 25, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council won’t have a mud season.
Instead, as many Steamboat residents temporarily flee town in the days after the ski area closes, the council will hunker down in Centennial Hall to tackle some big agenda items that could greatly impact the people of Steamboat.
From a list of possible police station building sites to the future of this city’s fire and ambulance services, here’s a closer look at some of the things the council will tackle this spring.
City staff is in sort of a holding pattern on one of the most substantial projects they’ve tackled in recent years.
Staff originally was planning on April 15 to give the City Council a presentation on the most viable building locations for the construction of a new police station, but the discussion has been postponed.
Anne Small, the city’s director of general services, said Tuesday that the city is waiting to learn whether the station will emerge as one of the council’s priorities when the body hashes out a list of goals at that April 15 meeting.
Small said if it is, city staff likely will schedule a presentation on possible locations for the council’s first meeting in May.
Community members still can offer their feedback on any of the more than 20 locations the city has considered by visiting this website.
The final list of the city’s top building locations hasn’t been released, but City Manager Deb Hinsvark indicated last month that the options so far include building on a parcel owned by Yampa Valley Medical Center; a remodel or rebuild of the station at the current location on Yampa Street; the construction of a station on what currently is the city’s parking lot on 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue; or two other options that involve land purchases.
The new police station is the highlight of the city’s six-year capital improvement program and would replace the current station on Yampa Street that city officials say is inadequate.
A group of 14 volunteers has been meeting as two groups since January to help the city oversee the spending of millions of dollars on trails and improvements to Yampa Street.
Both groups will brief the council on their progress Tuesday.
The Yampa Street steering committee will come ready with a recommendation that the city should use the $900,000 that is dedicated to Yampa Street to purchase a riverside parcel on Seventh and Yampa streets.
The committee also will stress that it wants to see the entire vision of the parks and promenade project realized with the help of other funding sources that range in possibility from an urban renewal authority to a transfer of development rights program.
The committee’s recommendation will raise a number of questions, including where the additional funding will come from that will be needed to purchase the riverside lot.
With an estimated $5.1 million to spend throughout the next decade, the trails lodging tax committee is working on a much different timeline.
Community members have an opportunity Wednesday to learn more about the work of the committee that has been going through a big portfolio of more than 40 potential trail projects.
They’ll meet at noon in Centennial Hall to grade and prioritize possible trail projects in the Mad Creek area and on Buffalo Pass.
Land managers from the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have been attending meetings and are expected to be on hand to discuss the viability of certain trails.
The future of fire and ambulance service in Steamboat will be up for discussion April 15 when an oversight committee presents a much awaited strategic plan for those services here.
The plan is the result of more than a year of discussions by an oversight committee represented by the city of Steamboat and the rural Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District.
"The goal of these discussions has been to really identify what the needs are of the community and how to best serve those needs from a fire and EMS perspective," Public Safety Director Joel Rae said Tuesday.
Rae said in the fall last year, the oversight committee was tasked with coming up with a strategic plan that would anticipate the needs of the city’s fire and ambulance services for the next seven years.
He added he’s hopeful the process will lead to a better written intergovernmental agreement between the city and the fire district that together serve the city and surrounding rural areas.
The specifics of the strategic plan won’t be released until they are presented to council, but Rae said the plan would address a range of things, including the possibility of a new substation to better serve rural residents.
He said, for example, the potential cost sharing and staffing of a new fire substation to better serve rural residents isn’t something that’s "covered in black and white" in our current IGA with the fire district.
The work of the oversight committee follows years of other discussions between the city and the fire district that sometimes have been marked by tension.
Prior to 2012, some earlier talks between the two entities about consolidating services stalled.
City Council President Bart Kounovsky, who serves on the oversight committee, said getting support on a strategic plan must come before any revisions to the city’s IGA with the fire district.
"I think we’ve taken a long pause from analyzing the relationship between the fire district and the city of Steamboat, and it’s been a good pause in regards to letting us sit down and analyze what the needs are through the fire oversight committee," Kounovsky said.
Elected officials have a long tradition of coming up with a series of goals to accomplish during their tenures.
The new City Council that was seated in November has yet to settle on such a list, but last week it resolved to hammer out some goals April 15.
Council members gave a preview of several possible goals at a facilitated retreat earlier this month when they offered up their priorities individually.
Their list of individual goals ranged from the construction of a new police station to the redevelopment of downtown.
Council members currently are working in pairs to talk about possible goals that span a variety of topics from sustainability to fiscal responsibility.
Members plan to start finalizing a list during a workshop April 15.