Night skiing gets final approval from Steamboat Springs City Council | SteamboatToday.com

Night skiing gets final approval from Steamboat Springs City Council

An artist rendering included in the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission's agenda for Aug. 8 shows what Steamboat Ski Area would look like at night with the new lights.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is on board with night skiing.

"We’re pumped and jazzed for this skiing," council member Scott Myller said shortly before the council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve Steamboat Ski Area’s plan to light 1,100 vertical feet of terrain in time for the upcoming winter season. "We’ve got condos that are ski in and ski out, and I swear in 10 years we’re going to be marketing night skiing in real estate ads for those units."

The lighting project will allow skiers to ride down five trails from the top of Christie Peak Express after the sun sets.

Doug Allen, the ski area’s vice president of mountain operations, told the council Tuesday night that a ticket for the new amenity is likely to be an additional add on to a season pass and separate from daily lift tickets.

The ski area plans to initially offer night skiing from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, extending those hours to 9:30 p.m. in the spring and to 11 p.m. for some special events.

The approval for the amenity came after several community members voiced their support and opposition to the plan.

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Most of the 14 people who spoke to the council at Tuesday’s meeting embraced the idea and said it has the potential to further revitalize a base area that seems deserted after dark.

"I speak in favor of this proposal on behalf of the 65 Chamber members I have at the base area," Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern told the council. "Those Chamber members have gone through some challenging times especially as a result of development decisions made (at the base area) in 2005. Anything this council and community can do to increase economic activity would be appreciated by them."

Steamboat attorney Melinda Sherman, who represented the homeowners at the Edgemont and Bear Claw condominiums that border the ski area, spoke in opposition to the plan.

She said the amenity has the potential to severely impact property values, and the ski area should be required to test the lights to show their full impact before the plan is approved.

Several residents of the two condominium complexes wrote to the council asking it to not approve the plan, saying it would bring unwanted noise and light pollution to the area.

The ski area did recently work with the condo owners to minimize the amenity’s impact.

Under the approved plan, the light poles that are closest to the residences will be lowered from the proposed 30 feet to 25 feet.

To further appease the property owners that will be most impacted by night skiing, the City Council agreed to hold a public forum in June 2014 to discuss how the new amenity is performing.

Night skiing will place Steamboat on a small list of Colorado resorts that offer riding after dark.

It also comes after about $35 million in public and private funds have been dedicated to updating the base of the ski area in the past six years.

Rob Perlman, the ski area’s senior vice president of marketing, reminded the audience in Centennial Hall that the ski industry is a hyper-competitive environment.

"With the Four Points Lodge and night skiing, we are making significant improvements to attract more guests to Steamboat," he said. "In the eyes of Intrawest and our guests, we have the wind at our back."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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