Future of Rita Valentine Park on tap at Wednesday Parks and Recreation Commission meeting | SteamboatToday.com

Future of Rita Valentine Park on tap at Wednesday Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

John Waldman plays a game of fetch with his dog Luna in Rita Valentine Park. The Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday night will discuss whether the park should be opened up to more recreational users.

— Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in Steamboat Springs is poised to draw a big crowd and a big debate.

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The commission will discuss whether Rita Valentine Park, one of this city’s most coveted and controversial playgrounds, should be developed with new recreational amenities or left alone.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to discuss it once again in an open forum and hear all the sides of what could happen,” Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director John Overstreet said. “I think it’s needed for the commission to listen to all the sides.”

The meeting was called by the Steamboat Springs City Council last month after a neighbor called to complain about unauthorized bike jumps that had been built in the park by children.

Council member Walter Magill wanted the commission to revisit recreational uses in the park in the wake of the complaint.

Magill and some other council members have said they are open to seeing the park, which currently features only a few social trails across rolling hills, more developed as a park.

Dennis DeMara, a parent of one of the children who used the bike jumps, told the Steamboat Today the jumps had been in place for more than two years before the complaint and that the park should be a place that is enjoyed by everyone, including children.

Community members have long debated what to do with Rita Valentine Park.

Some want it designated as open space and kept undeveloped, while others have asked the city to allow such things as a fenced-in dog park and a disc golf course.

Over the years, the park also has been eyed by the city as a building site for a new police station, by the Steamboat Springs School District as a possible building site for a new high school and by other community members as an executive golf course.

Although the land was designated as a park in 1992, it has been maintained more like open space.

The parks and recreation commission on Wednesday will dust off a five-year-old conceptual plan for the park that was tabled indefinitely by a previous city council.

The plan included possible recreational amenities ranging from parking areas to a disc golf course.

The plan recommended that the city designate the M&H parcel, 35 acres of parkland adjacent to Rita Valentine, as open space and leave it undeveloped.

Planners also noted that with the addition of a picnic area, parking areas, dog parks and a disc golf course in Rita Valentine Park, 59 of the 75 acres shared by Rita Valentine and the M&H parcel “are retained as natural and passive features.”

The park’s lack of conservation easements and its central location in Steamboat off of Anglers Drive has made it an attractive area for the development of a park in the eyes of some in the community.

The land was donated to the city in 1985 by two real estate developers from California.

The parks and recreation commission meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in Citizen’s Hall.

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

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Citizen’s Hall, 124 10th St.

Becoming Rita Valentine Park

January, 1985: The 40 acres that would become the park are donated to the city of Steamboat by two developers from California.

February, 1985: Steamboat Springs City Council frets about $14,000 tax bill on property

October, 1992: City Council adopts an ordinance designating the land to be used for park, open space and recreational purposes.

June, 1996: Park is named in honor of Rita Valentine, who helped convince the developers to donate the land.

2009: Conceptual plan for Rita Valentine Park is completed. Plans include possible recreational facilities and new parking lot.

August, 2009: CIty Council votes unanimously to table the conceptual plan for the park indefinitely

July 20, 2010: City Council halts disc golf course on the property

August, 2013: City eyes park as location for new police station

September, 2013: City abandons idea to build station on Rita Valentine Park

May, 2014: City Council votes to have parks and recreation commission revisit conceptual plans for Rita Valentine Park

June 11, 2014: Parks and recreation commission scheduled to discuss recreational uses in park

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