Project leaders toast Steamboat Springs base area facelift
November 26, 2011
Steamboat Springs — As Elephant Revival took the stage Saturday, Steve Frasier gazed at the crowd and saw people smiling, moving and enjoying the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
"It's just nice to see it in use," said Frasier, co-chairman of the group tasked with overseeing public improvement construction projects at the base area. "This was the whole plan."
Construction has been occurring during the warmer months at the base area for nearly five years at a cost of about $20 million. Saturday helped mark the completion of two of the largest projects. An expansive heated walkway now links Gondola Square with Torian Plum Plaza and Ski Time Square. Burgess Creek is covered in snow, but come summer, it will run above ground as a new feature at the base.
"My hope is that this new promenade will make this new base area as successful as downtown," Steamboat Springs City Council member Scott Myller said. "We're open for business."
The new stage christened Saturday was built by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and served as the cherry on top of the new public amenities. Some of the $250,000 spent on new public restrooms below the stage will be rebated to the ski area through the urban renewal area's property tax collections.
"Bringing public restrooms to Gondola Square was an original goal," Frasier said.
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David Baldinger Jr. serves as co-chairman with Frasier on the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the City Council in its role as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority. The urban renewal area projects are funded by growth in property taxes within a district that encompasses most of the vacation lodging at the mountain village.
Baldinger said the improvements at the base were a good example of public tax dollars being used to spur investment from private-property owners. He said Torian Plum spent millions of dollars on improving their property that they would not have otherwise spent.
"If you spend a little bit of public money, the private money comes behind it," Baldinger said.
The ultimate goal of the Advisory Committee has been to improve the flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic within the resort area.
Roundabouts were installed at Ski Time Square, Burgess Creek Plaza and Après Ski Way to improve the flow of vehicles, and new signage was installed to make it easier for visitors to navigate the area. Millions of dollars were spent on infrastructure and utility projects that caused periods of inconvenience for local business owners and their customers. The bulldozers, dust and dump trucks overtook Ski Time Square at times, and committee members were busy fielding questions from the public about what work was being completed.
"We kept getting questions," Frasier said. "It's all happening underground. You can't see it, but it's important."
It culminated this year, and finishing touches such as landscaping and lighting in the creek will be done in the spring.
"We've had a lot of funding and a lot of cooperation along the way, and that's really why it's important," Frasier said. "It's an awful long project, but it worked."
Frasier thinks the benefits of the new projects will become more evident next summer as Burgess Creek begins flowing above ground.
Baldinger and Frasier said the Advisory Committee would take a break for a couple of years to rebuild its reserves before moving forward with future projects. Those likely will include street and walkway improvements along Mount Werner Road, which serves as the gateway to the ski area.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com