Engelken resigns Steamboat Spring City Council seat
Councilman’s last meeting July 6; city approves Triple Crown deal
June 16, 2010
Steamboat Springs — It's not easy to overshadow the city's new agreement with Triple Crown Sports, but Jim Engelken found a way Tuesday night.
The Steamboat Springs City Councilman resigned his at-large seat Tuesday in Centennial Hall and said that his last council meeting will be July 6 because of his family's upcoming move to the Denver area. City attorney Tony Lettunich said Engelken's resignation means the remaining six City Council members will have 30 days from the time of vacancy to elect a new member by majority vote. That vote likely will occur Aug. 3. Engelken's two-year, at-large seat is open to applicants citywide. His replacement will serve the remainder of his term through the November 2011 election.
Engelken said in April that he and his family were considering a move to the Front Range. His wife, Nancy, left her position as the city's community housing coordinator at the end of last year. She became the executive director of Housing Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing services statewide.
Jim Engelken said although the move was a "very difficult" decision, his wife's frequent travel and increasing time away from their 4-year-old daughter, Elisa, became too tough on the family. He said they'll move during the next couple of months and are considering Golden.
Also Tuesday night, City Council approved Steamboat Springs' new agreement with Triple Crown Sports in a 6-1 vote, potentially keeping Triple Crown summer sports events in Steamboat through 2020. Triple Crown's current agreement with the city expires after this summer.
City Council President Cari Hermacinski noted that because it's an agreement, not a contract, the deal's conditions are subject to change in coming years if problems arise. Those problems could include a prolonged decrease in Triple Crown's local presence coupled with continued costs to the city.
Under the new agreement, the city would be required to pay Triple Crown a sponsorship fee of $65,000 to $80,000 annually, depending on the size and amount of Triple Crown events. That's in addition to the city's dedication of at least $75,000 annually for field improvements or development. Triple Crown would be required to pay at least $15,000 a year for local field improvements.
Councilwoman Meg Bentley said she couldn't support those costs before casting her "no" vote. Councilman Kenny Reisman and Steamboat resident Bill Jameson expressed concern that while the sponsorship fee increases if Triple Crown brings more teams to town, it does not decrease below $65,000 if Triple Crown brings fewer teams.
City Manager Jon Roberts emphasized the fluid, nonbinding nature of the agreement.
"It's a multi-year agreement. … But it's not a multi-year financial obligation to the city," Roberts said.
Fort Collins-based Triple Crown has brought summer sports events to Steamboat since 1982. Hermacinski, Councilman Jon Quinn and Councilman Scott Myller all expressed their support for Triple Crown's relationship with the city and the new agreement.
Engelken's minority voice
Engelken previously served on City Council from 1995 to 2001. He was re-elected in November 2009 after running a campaign that strongly criticized the previous City Council, which he called "very aggressively pro-growth."
He's been on the losing end of numerous votes during his current term.
"I have been a minority voice," he acknowledged Tuesday.
That trend continued Tuesday night, when — before announcing his resignation near the end of the meeting — Engelken twice voted against changes to the city's community development code that the City Council approved.
The changes reduced setback requirements for new development and allowed some setbacks to count toward open space requirements. Engelken said the changes would create "a much denser environment" in Steamboat.
"This is a major change to the way we look," he said.
He lost one vote, 6-1, and another, 5-2, with Bentley also opposing some changes to setback requirements.
Engelken said Tuesday that he hopes his replacement will put the needs of the entire community first, rather than those of the development community.
Hermacinski said she hopes City Council can reach unified agreement on the new member with a 6-0 vote in August. Council members will interview selected applicants. Those interested in applying can call City Clerk Julie Franklin at 970-871-8248.
Engelken turns 52 next month. He'll be leaving a city he's lived in for essentially his entire adult life.
"I came here when I was 20 years old in 1979," he said.
Engelken has worked at Safeway throughout his time in Steamboat. He said he's had a season pass to Steamboat Ski Area every winter but two during that time.
City Council next meets July 6.