Steamboat City Council to consider funding Arnold Barn relocation blueprints
May 11, 2017
Steamboat Springs — A decade-old effort to shore up the Arnold Barn and move it a short distance to a more visible location near the base of Steamboat Ski Area could get a big boost next week.
The city's elected officials will decide Tuesday whether to spend $50,000 in tax dollars collected by Steamboat's Urban Renewal Authority on designs for a new iconic entry feature that would prominently display the Arnold Barn on the grassy knoll below the Steamboat Grand.
The barn first appeared in a conceptual drawing as an iconic entry feature to the resort area about 10 years ago.
But the plans have never advanced because of shifting priorities, legal hurdles, and, most recently, a city lawsuit against the current owner of the barn that prevented the Steamboat Springs City Council from deciding whether to spend public money to move it.
Now that the lawsuit is close to being resolved and ownership of the barn is poised to go to Steamboat Ski Area, the group that helps oversee tax spending on base area improvement projects sees an opportunity.
They want to get the barn relocation project rolling again.
The spending on the designs for the Arnold Barn entry feature project would not increase the total budget for base area improvement projects this year.
Instead, members of the Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee want to scale back some sidewalk projects by $50,000 to make room in the budget for the barn feature designs.
"It saves a cool barn, and it also meets one of the goals and directives of the URA," URAAC member David Baldinger Jr. said Thursday.
The council would have to vote separately on the actual relocation of the barn.
City officials are noting the city would pursue outside funding sources for the barn relocation while the designs are being drawn up.
Councilwoman Robin Crossan recently wondered whether private donors might be able to provide some large donations to help preserve and move the barn.
What's changed since the entry feature idea first came about a decade ago?
A grassroots campaign to save the barn materialized in recent months after more of the structure's nearly 90-year-old history became known.
Proponents of the barn relocation also say they have gotten preliminary approvals from landowners to place the barn in a new location below the Steamboat Grand.
Tuesday's City Council vote on whether to order construction design drawings is likely to show whether the current council has the appetite to spend public funds to relocate the barn, which currently sits at the corner of the Meadows Parking lot.
In December, the council passed on a barn relocation proposal that totaled about $400,000.
In addition to moving the barn and preserving it, the proposal is to also install new sidewalks in the area as well as landscaping and an area where people could stop to take photos of the barn.
If design drawings are ordered, the barn could be relocated as soon as next year.
Some council members who voted against the relocation proposal said the city should not serve as a "rescue unit" for developers who they think should have been maintaining the barn.
Since that time, the council has agreed to the terms of a deal that will have the current property owners pay $25,000 to stabilize the barn in its current location.
The land and the barn will also be gifted to Steamboat Ski Area, which has agreed to take over the maintenance responsibilities.
But base area stakeholders still want to move the barn up the hill and have it serve as an iconic entry feature.
The barn was constructed sometime in the late 1920s and served as a centerpiece of the Arnold family's dairy farm for many years.