Conversion of parking lot into riverside park 1 of several options still being considered for Yampa Street |

Conversion of parking lot into riverside park 1 of several options still being considered for Yampa Street

— A small group of city staff and downtown stakeholders spent some of Monday afternoon trying to figure out how to create 21 extra parking spaces in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The exercise, spurred by an idea to possibly convert a 21-space parking lot at Ninth and Yampa streets into a pocket park with river access, came during the middle of a wide-ranging brainstorming session about how to make Yampa more pedestrian friendly.

"What would bring people to Steamboat?" Jason Lacy asked the group about halfway through the brainstorming session.

It was the latest in a long series of meetings he and other downtown stakeholders have held in recent months.

From better lighting to the conversion of the riverside parking lot into a new park, the downtown stakeholders and city staff continue to ponder a wide range of ideas.

It’s all part of the ongoing quest to identify the best way to spend $900,000 worth of voter-approved lodging tax money on the street in the coming years.

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The Yampa Street lodging tax committee that Lacy presides over had recommended to the Steamboat Springs City Council last month that the money should be used to help purchase a lot at Seventh and Yampa streets and to convert that parcel into a park.

But with the asking price of that lot now $1 million more than the lodging tax dollars available, it is an idea that is no longer at the top of the committee’s list.

Instead, the committee and city staff primarily are vetting three alternatives that include the conversion of the 21-space parking lot at Ninth and Yampa into a pocket park, dedicating funds to smaller-scale sidewalk and lighting improvements or purchasing a lot at Sixth and Yampa to convert into a separate park with river access.

Each idea has its own set of hurdles to overcome.

Many on the lodging tax committee said they would need to replace an equal amount of parking that would be taken by a new park between Backdoor Sports and the city’s ambulance barn.

An appraisal of the lot at Sixth and Yampa still needs to be done, and some members of the committee don’t see new sidewalks as the highest priority of the promenade project.

The lodging tax committee could get some further direction from the City Council on Tuesday night, when the body takes up the discussion again.

The council last month had asked city staff to look into the possibility of relocating the ambulance barn at 911 Yampa St. so that a park could be developed there.

After doing some research on the cost and logistics of such a move, city staff is recommending against moving the building at this time.

"We’re not in a position to move everybody out right now," City Manager Deb Hinsvark told the lodging tax committee Monday. "The costs are going up, and we no longer have it in the budget."

The discussion about Yampa Street redevelopment is a highlight of Tuesday night’s heavy City Council agenda.

The council will discuss a set of goals it has spent weeks defining and also will hear from a class of fourth-graders at Strawberry Park Elementary School that will ask the city and the council to research ways they can reduce the use of plastic bags in the community.

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

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