City of Steamboat to revisit what types of recreation should be allowed in Rita Valentine Park |

City of Steamboat to revisit what types of recreation should be allowed in Rita Valentine Park

Hikers descend on a trail in Rita Valentine Park. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission has been tasked with making recommendations for the future use of the park that remains undeveloped.

— Whoever built those unauthorized bike jumps in Rita Valentine Park probably will have something to say at the new round of public meetings that soon will be scheduled to discuss the park’s future.

And so will the neighbors who called the city to report the bike jumps were there.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to once again have the city look into what types of recreational uses should be allowed in the large 40-acre park that remains undeveloped aside from a series of social trails.

The council tasked its volunteer Parks and Recreation Commission with reviewing past plans for the park and recommending what types of recreation should be allowed there in the future.

"I think it’s a great opportunity to bring it back to the public," Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department Director John Overstreet said after council gave the city the go ahead to revisit the use of Rita Valentine.

Some council members have said they’ve wanted to revisit plans for the park in recent months, but the latest unauthorized bike jumps and the liability concerns that surround them helped to spur Tuesday’s vote by the council.

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Some council members, including Walter Magill, have suggested Rita Valentine could be opened to new recreational uses that aren’t being accommodated in other parks in Steamboat.

He said Tuesday he’d like to see the parks and recreation commission consider whether there should be new additions at the park ranging from disc golf to basketball courts.

The last conceptual plan for Rita Valentine was drawn up in 2009 but was tabled indefinitely by the City Council. It included the possibility of such things as a disc golf course, parking areas and a dog park.

The Rita Valentine Park site lies right next to a 35-acre parcel called the M&H property.

The park was gifted to city in 1985.

The last time recreational uses at the park were explored, the city heard both strong support for new recreational amenities in the park and strong opposition from neighbors and other community members who wanted to leave the park the way it is.

Community opposition also led to the removal of a disc golf course that had been staked out at the park.

A survey of community members included in the 2009 conceptual plan for the park found it was hard to identify a clear public consensus on the park’s future.

"The survey results while informative do not clearly point to a particular course of action for the Rita Valentine site," the plan reads. "On the one hand, there is clear support for ‘open space’ and ‘natural areas.’ On the other hand, people also want parks with active recreation opportunities close to home."

A survey done at the time found that 88 percent of respondents felt the city’s current parks were meeting their needs, but acknowledged more would be needed as the city grew.

"All of this indicates that, as Steamboat Springs’ only major undeveloped public land in this part of the city, the Rita Valentine and M & H Property sites need to serve a complex blend of public needs and desires now and in the future," the plan reads.

Last year, the city explored the possibility of building a new police station on a small corner of the park but stopped pursuing the idea after it faced strong criticism from the community.

What types of recreational uses should be allowed in Rita Valentine Park? Leave a comment below.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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