Future of West Lincoln Park playground to be subject of public meeting in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Future of West Lincoln Park playground to be subject of public meeting in Steamboat Springs

The Yampa River Queen playground in West Lincoln Park first opened in 1987.

— An unsuccessful grant application for some new playground equipment at West Lincoln Park means Steamboat Springs' iconic Yampa River Queen playground will stay afloat for now.

In October, the city had plans to raze the wooden steamboat-themed playground and replace it with modern play equipment.

But those plans were dependent on the city receiving a $125,000 playground grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help build a new playground.

City Parks, Open Space and Trails manager Craig Robinson said Monday he's planning to soon hold a public meeting to gauge what the community wants to see happen next at West Lincoln Park.

"We want to run it through the public process," he said.

The meeting will likely be held later this month or in early June.

Robinson said a structural assessment of the 30-year-old River Queen could be part of the overall plan.

While the bigger playground plans remain in limbo, the city will move ahead with adding a new shaded area and picnic tables.

Parks supervisor Ernie Jenkins told Steamboat Today in the fall that the two-story playground structure does not meet today's safety standards and was nearing the end of its life.

"We've kept it safe, and we've gotten our money out of it, but it's time for a new playground," he said.

The playground also does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

News of the River Queen's possible date with a wrecking ball generated a range of reactions in the community.

Some residents came to its defense on social media, calling it an icon and even jokingly proclaiming "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN."

Others called it a "cheesy-looking" structure that had served its purpose.

"It's not the Liberty Bell," a reader from Texas wrote on Facebook.

Kerry Kaster, the designer of the playground and a former city parks employee, emerged as its biggest defender.

Kaster hatched the plans for the River Queen in a frigid lift shack on Howelsen Hill.

He said the old playground needs some work today, but it shouldn't be scrapped.

"These days, it's too easy just to tear things down," he said. "What would you come up with for this place, other than a steamboat?"

The upcoming public meeting being hosted by the city will give the community a chance to weigh in.

Kaster said Monday he thinks its good the city is starting a community dialogue about the park's future.

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