City of Steamboat Springs might sue property owner, developer over neglect of iconic Arnold Barn
Community members hope to stabilize structure before winter
October 26, 2016
Steamboat Springs — The fate of a historic barn that is being neglected near the base of Steamboat Ski Area could be decided in the courts.
The company that owns the land the barn sits on, and the development company that had plans to build homes at the site in the Wildhorse Meadows development, recently denied responsibility for maintaining the structure.
However, the city of Steamboat Springs thinks both parties are legally obligated to maintain the more than 70-year-old Arnold Barn per the conditions of a 10-year-old development agreement.
And some community members have urged the city to hold the responsible parties’ feet to the fire to ensure a rare nod to Steamboat’s western heritage doesn’t collapse.
City Attorney Dan Foote told the City Council on Tuesday night the city will likely need to file a lawsuit in district court to try and enforce the maintenance obligations for the barn.
The city recently sent a letter to the developer and the property owner reminding them of the maintenance obligations and asking for a plan to stabilize the structure.
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Foote characterized the recent response he got from Real Capital Solutions, the Louisville-based company that owns the land the barn sits on, as "sorry, not our problem."
Real Capital Solutions has not returned several phone calls from Steamboat Today to discuss the status of the barn and its future.
When the developers of the Wildhorse Meadows project received approval from the city in 2006, one of the original conditions of approval was for the barn to be maintained in place.
A plan to move the barn and stabilize it somewhere else never materialized, and no work has been done to preserve the barn since.
The maintenance obligation for the barn was complicated by the fact that the property has been the subject of foreclosure. The land has also changed ownership.
But Foote has told the council he thinks the barn maintenance obligations still exist on the barn property, which sits in the corner of the Meadows Parking lot off of Mount Werner Road.
Foote said the council will need to decide who to name as defendants in a lawsuit.
He said the likely parties would include Real Capital Solutions and the developer, RP Steamboat Springs, LLC.
He said other potential defendants include various homeowners associations for the project and the owners of individual lots and units.
But before taking any legal action, Foote wants to wait to get the results of a recent inspection of the structure.
He said finding out what condition the barn is in could help guide potential legal action.
"If we find out the thing is about to fall down, we might seek emergency relief," Foote said. "If engineers think it has a year or two, we might ask for a different timetable."
Foote also revealed he may have a conflict of interest regarding the barn property that will need to be discussed.
Foote’s wife is a realtor who represents the owners of a condominium unit and a single family lot in the Wildhorse Meadows project.
Meanwhile, a group of community members called Save Arnold Barn has formed to try and save the barn.
The group, led by historic preservationists, recently got permission from Real Capital Solutions to allow an engineer to inspect the barn to gauge what kind of condition it's in.
An architect is scheduled to take a look at the barn this weekend.
"We should have more information next week," historic preservationist Arianthe Stettner said. "We have a lot of balls in the air right now."
Stettner said the services provided by the architect and a contractor have so far been provided pro bono.
Save Arnold Barn is hoping to be able to at least stabilize the structure before the snow starts to pile up this winter.
To learn more about the effort to save the Arnold Barn, visit savearnoldbarn.org or like the Save Arnold Barn on Facebook.
The barn was built by the Arnold family, which moved to the Yampa Valley from Nebraska.
The Arnold Barn is not to be confused with the famous More Barn, which was stabilized and turned into a public park just down the road off of Pine Grove Road.