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Open house details project

Burgess Creek site up for public review

What: City of Steamboat Springs and Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee presentation of ideas for the Steamboat Ski Area base When: 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th Street For more: Call Joe Kracum at 871-7077.

The URAAC is an advisory group that focuses on redevelopment of the mountain base area. The group meets 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of every month in Rooms 113 and 114 of Centennial Hall.

— Residents will get an initial look Tuesday at the first proposed steps in a major development project at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

The steps, which include work around Burgess Creek, construction of a walkway and installation of new signage, would be first tangible results of the Urban Renewal Authority, which was created by the Steamboat Springs City Council in 2005. The URA’s intent is to raise money for public improvements at the aging base of the ski area. The URA is financed by future property tax and sales tax growth within the URA boundaries.

The City Council has final say about the URA’s decisions, but it appointed an advisory committee to do much of the legwork. The Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee consists of people involved with the base area as well as community members.

The base area needs to be redeveloped because it was not planned well, said Chuck Porter, a member of the committee.

“The base area was developed without the benefit of a master plan or one entity controlling the base area,” Porter said. “Bits and pieces were sold off and allowed to be developed without adhering to a grand design standard.”

“It’s the kind of fragmented task of going back and implementing a plan and trying to design it as if we are working towards a master plan,” he said.

There are problems with signage, aging infrastructure, utility capacity and other elements of the base are committee member Jane Blackstone said. The problems have put a damper on private investment and have degraded the experience of visitors, she said.

Porter thinks that needs to change.

“There’s no doubt that the base area is an economic engine of the community, and we want to take care of that resource that we have,” he said.

Committee members have agreed to focus on four changes to kick off the redevelopment. One is to change the signage and “wayfinding” of the area.

“Wayfinding is a method of using landmarks and signage together to give people a visual reference on where they’re at and where they’re going,” said Joe Kracum of Kracum Resources. Kracum is the coordinator of the project. Wayfinding landmarks include fences, roadways and sidewalks.

Kracum and Wenk Associates, planners for the project, have worked together to create new signs that could be installed along U.S. Highway 40, Mount Werner Road and throughout the base area.

The next proposed project is a U-shaped promenade at the base of the ski mountain. The promenade is a pathway that would connect different areas of the base.

“The promenade is a way to move people from one place to another,” Kracum said.

The committee also is talking about “daylighting” Burgess Creek, which means highlighting it. During the summer, officials would divert the creek from the culvert near Slopeside Grill to a new creek bed.

“The idea is to try to help provide a public space that is interesting and beautiful along the creek in the summer,” Kracum said. When winter comes, officials would be able to divert the creek back underground.

The fourth project identified as an initial priority is a possible drop-off or transit station in the area officials are calling the North Portal. The portal is bordered by the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Torian Plum and Mount Werner Lodge.

“The initial projects are intended to address some of the more urgent issues and problems at the base,” Blackstone said. They also are projects that realistically can be accomplished in 2007.

“They will show our residents and visitors that something positive is happening at the base area, that change is in the wind,” Blackstone said.

“We do think it’s important to have some projects that have some visibility to the community and to the visitors,” Porter said.

The timeline is tight if the work is to be completed during the 2007 construction season, Kracum said.

“It’s aggressive. We are moving forward with a strong commitment to outreach and making sure everyone’s involved,” Kracum said.

City Council member Susan Dellinger wants the review process to remain as public as possible.

“It’s important because it’s everybody’s tax money. It affects everybody,” Dellinger said. “We want to make sure it’s all been looked at as often as we can.”

Porter said the community demands public processes, and that is what the committee is providing.