City looking to acquire land | SteamboatToday.com
Christine Metz

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City looking to acquire land

Parcel could be used for future commuter-rail center

Steamboat Springs is applying for a $278,000 grant to help purchase land that some day could be used for a commuter-rail center.

City officials hope that money from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant program, which would come with a $137,000 match from the city, would help purchase 2 acres of industrial land next to the Depot Art Center off 13th Street. Still in negotiations to purchase the vacant land, the city intends to some day use the property for a multimodal transportation center.

Union Pacific Railroad Com–pany owns the property, which is adjacent to land the city owns.

City Director of Inter–governmental Services Linda Kakela said the city is in the preliminary stages of negotiations.

The primary draw of the property is its location next to the railroad track. In its grant application, the city noted that the property was one of the last pieces of undeveloped land adjacent to the railroad in downtown Steamboat.

In the late 1990s, community officials identified a commuter rail system between Craig and Steamboat as a high priority, Kakela said. The plans were put on hold when Union Pacific acquired Southern Pacific and the number of coal trains on the railways increased, Kakela said.

But a commuter-rail system could be possible in the future.

“We do have the opportunity to purchase land in close proximity to what might be, in the future, a commuter-rail site,” Kakela said.

On Tuesday, the local prioritization committee for the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grants program will meet. The city is the only entity in Routt County that has submitted a grant application for the upcoming grants cycle, said Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison, who sits on the committee with the county’s other two commissioners.

After the prioritization committee meeting, the application will be forwarded to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which makes the final decision.

The city’s $137,000 match was proposed in its 2006 capital improvement plan.

Last fall, the city was in negotiations with Union Pacific to purchase 15 acres near the property it now is looking to purchase through grant funding. The land was between the Stock Bridge Multimodal Transit Center and the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. It would have cost $107,000, about $90,000 of which would have been covered by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado and through the Yampa River Legacy Project. The negotiations were delayed, and a contract has yet to be signed.

The last time the city purchased land from the railroad was in 1998, when it bought 8 acres from the Southern Pacific Real Estate Enterprises. The property went from the Depot Art Center to the Stock Bridge center and was used to extend the Yampa River Core Trail.