New concept for Howelsen Hill includes restaurant, ziplines and more | SteamboatToday.com

New concept for Howelsen Hill includes restaurant, ziplines and more

Softball players play under the lights at the Howelsen Hill ballfields.

The latest conceptual plan for the city's historic ski hill envisions turning Howelsen into a summer fun zone filled with ziplines, a tubing hill and a 200-seat restaurant in an expanded lodge where visitors could watch all the action from an outdoor deck.

City Manager Gary Suiter said he was pumped up after reading the list of possibilities.

"I also really love the idea (in the plan) of a junior pump track," Suiter said. "To see kids on Strider bikes, and the adventures and fun they experience, is really neat."

Other highlights of the plan include the creation of a museum, construction of 6,000 additional feet of clubhouse space for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and a new chairlift that would also accommodate mountain bikers who want an easier way to access trails on Emerald Mountain.

"It's got so much potential," Suiter said of Howelsen. "So, when I saw this plan, I got pumped up about it."

The plan, which was put together by a ski area planning firm based in Vermont, will be presented to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday.

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The public can attend or listen in as the planners outline all the details, as well as cost recovery projections of certain amenities.

The plan includes between $7.2 and $7.8 million worth of potential improvements.

While some previous master plans for Howelsen have been relegated to shelves due to a lack of funding, Suiter said he thinks this one has potential.

"I see it as an achievable plan, but it requires community discussion, and it will require partnerships to make it happen," he said. "It needs to have support."

Suiter cautioned that the vision is conceptual, not final.

When the council weighs in, it could decide to send the plan to the community for feedback.

Meanwhile, the city and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. are continuing to talk about the possibility of the resort taking over operations of Howelsen and trying to make it more financially stable.

Ski area officials were not involved in the conceptual plan that will be discussed Tuesday, but they'll be in the room listening to the vision.

Jim Schneider, the resort's vice president, said Friday talks between the city and the resort are going well.

"I think our goal is to have an agreement in place early this fall, so if it works out, we would be in place for the winter," Schneider said.

Asked if a recent soil study, which showed some parts of the hill are likely prone to more landslides, has impacted any of the discussions, Schneider said “no.”

"We recognize the challenges, as the city does," Schneider said. "Its been going on for a long time. It's just something we're going to have to deal with."

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

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