Routt County Riders seeks new trail building equipment to speed up projects |

Routt County Riders seeks new trail building equipment to speed up projects

— Routt County Riders is hoping to speed up Steamboat Springs’ ongoing transformation into a world-class cycling destination with the purchase a new singletrack trail-building machine.

The nonprofit group of cycling enthusiasts estimates the purchase of a singletrack dozer could save millions of dollars, as well as man hours, in the long run as the city spends the lion’s share of its lodging tax on new trails for the next decade.

"It’s going to have a lot of benefit going forward," Routt County Riders Vice-President Eric Meyer said. "The quarry mountain trail (on Emerald Mountain) took 13 months from start to finish with hand-work only. We’d hope to do that in much less time."

Meyer said because of its size, the trail builder, which looks like a much skinnier bulldozer, could be used in areas that currently are off-limits to heavy machinery.

It also could help speed up construction of two trails on Emerald Mountain this summer.

Routt County Riders has dedicated $15,000 toward the purchase of the machine that is estimated to cost almost $100,000, and they are looking for additional funding sources.

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The Steamboat Springs City Council will hear about the idea Tuesday night as Routt County Riders asks the city about the potential of it guaranteeing a loan from Alpine Bank to purchase the equipment.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said last week the trail-building equipment could indeed be a big benefit, but there were some concerns about the city’s financial involvement with the purchase.

"It could be a good thing, and it could save time," she said. "But at the same time, we could end up owning a singletrack dozer."

A memo from city staff to the council also states that it could be perceived the city is creating "an unfair advantage" in the business community by helping to purchase the equipment, and if the cycling group defaults on the loan, the city would be on the hook.

Routt County Riders is not proposing to use any of the accommodations tax funds for the purchase of the machine, and they are considering a number of other funding sources.

If it purchases the equipment, the group also would still be competing with other trail builders for projects in the city.

Meyer said the machine could end up paying for itself with all of the cost savings that can be realized by building the trails in a more efficient manner.

It also could be used to benefit a number of community groups ranging from Yampatika to the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, he said.

The presentation on the new trail-building equipment will come on the same night the City Council narrows down the list of applicants for the two steering committees that will help oversee the spending of the lodging tax.

The trails steering committee will prioritize dozens of trail projects in and around the city, while the Yampa River promenade steering committee will help oversee the funding on that downtown amenity.

Other agenda highlights

Council retreat

The Steamboat City Council is resolved to soon get together in a public retreat and hash out some goals for itself in the coming years. The council voted at a prior meeting to spend $2,500 and hire a facilitator for the retreat. The council on Tuesday night will be asked to choose between two facilitators, Todd Musselman and Steve Muntean, to host the event.

Downtown BID Board

Council will consider making six new appointments to the downtown business improvement district’s board of directors. The board has sat mostly vacant since a proposal to fund the downtown district with a property tax failed here in 2007. Repopulating the board is the first step toward possibly seeking another tax increase to fund the district.

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