Our View: A beneficial use of water during winter
October 30, 2012
It's been four years since many of the buildings in Ski Time Square were torn down in anticipation of a major redevelopment project that never commenced in the wake of an economic recession. But this winter will see what is perhaps the most significant vertical construction in Ski Time Square since The Atira Group put its building plans on hold.
A partnership between Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and The Atira Group will result in a seasonal ice castle to be built on the empty section of Ski Time Square that housed a bicycle pump track this summer. The project, to be built and managed by a company called Ice Castles that made its Colorado debut in Silverthorne last winter, is a creative, worthwhile effort to bring some vitality to the otherwise lifeless chunk of base area property.
But not everyone agrees. A few in the community are concerned that the ice castle is a monumental waste of water, particularly in the aftermath of a summer that featured months-long mandatory water restrictions for all Steamboat Springs residents and businesses.
To be clear, we were among those who encouraged water conservation measures and urged residents and businesses to adopt those practices year-round. Still, we think we fairly can say that supporting the ice castle in Ski Time Square doesn't contradict those messages.
While the ice castle will require a significant amount of water — about 2 million gallons, its creators say — that water will be provided by Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District and represents a non-consumptive use. In other words, when the castle melts come spring, the majority of its water will return to the watershed, including Burgess Creek. Additionally, all the water used to create the ice castle over the course of winter will represent the equivalent of just a couple of days' worth of watering at local golf courses and just 2 percent of Steamboat Ski Area's total annual snowmaking use. Further, the use of the water won't hurt tap flows for purposes of fire suppression.
The bottom line is that the "construction" of an ice castle in Ski Time Square is a positive development for the base area and for Steamboat Springs in general. It will bring jobs and visitors to our city with very little or no cost to Steamboat. Now that's economic development that is easy to support.