Steamboat City Council restores Howelsen Hill hours
November 8, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council restored more than half of the operational hours at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area that previously were cut because of budget reductions.
City Council members, by a 6-1 vote, approved the second reading of the 2012 budget with an additional $13,000 in expenditures. The total budget includes more than $51.5 million in total appropriations, including $24.7 million in general fund expenditures.
Council member Cari Hermacinski opposed the motion.
The additional funds will pay for Howelsen Hill to open at 10 a.m. Fridays instead of 3:45 p.m. It also would pay to operate the poma ski lift on Sundays, instead of just the chair lift, magic carpet and boardwalk.
Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department Director Chris Wilson told the City Council on Tuesday that increased season pass and daily ticket rates would generate an additional $30,000 if this season's sales are the same as last year's. He said that revenue would pay for the additional expenditures.
Howelsen Hill operating hours previously were reduced by 9 1/2 hours per week.
When the reduction was presented to the City Council in October, council member Kenny Reisman expressed concern and asked whether Howelsen Hill was meeting its potential. At the time, council member Jon Quinn also questioned whether the ski hill could generate enough revenue to support itself. They also questioned the vision for Howelsen.
Since then, the Parks and Recreation Commission has been meeting with Howelsen Hill stakeholders, such as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, to address those concerns.
Reisman advocated for the additional operating hours Tuesday.
"I'm not for opening Howelsen for the sake of opening Howelsen," he said. "That, to me, doesn't seem like it's a win for anybody. What I am trying to do is find where (there) are some gaps where user groups are being left out that could otherwise make use of this great luxury."
After the meeting, Wilson said he was pleased with the additional operating hours for Howelsen Hill, which would benefit all user groups. He said additional discussion about issues related to the ski hill would take place at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Centennial Hall.
In other action:
■ Newly elected City Council members Scott Myller (District 1), Bart Kounovsky (District 2), Sonja Macys (District 3) and Kevin Kaminski (at-large) were sworn into office Tuesday. It's Myller's second term and Kounovsky's first full term after being appointed last year.
■ City Council members unanimously approved Kounovsky as president and Myller as president pro-tem. City Council member Walter Magill nominated former president Cari Hermacinski for pro-tem after she nominated Myller for the position.
"I think what I could have lent is institutional knowledge," Hermacinski said. "Scott and I share that not only from our City Council days but our Planning Commission days as well. He expressed to me that he would be up to the challenge, and I'd like to support Scott."
Kounovsky thanked the City Council for approving him as president and thanked Hermacinski for serving in the role for the previous two years, noting that he has big shoes to fill.
■ Outgoing City Council members Meg Bentley and Jon Quinn were honored during a reception before the meeting and publicly after the meeting began. Both chose not to seek second terms. Both said they didn't regret their decision.
Quinn said: "It was a difficult decision to not run again, but the last year I've been stretched too thin. I think it was important for me to recognize that. The city's got a lot going for it. I'm not one to think my presence alone makes a difference. We've got a great city staff and tremendous City Council. I don' regret it at all."
Bentley said: "I promised four years. I gave four years. It was really interesting. I learned a lot. I am so devoted to the people who voted me in. I'll keep coming back for some of the issues. … It was really cool to represent all these people."
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com