Steamboat City Council to vote on River Creek Park project
March 19, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council could take a step toward accomplishing one of its top five goals for 2011 on Tuesday night when it considers approving a development permit enabling construction of a public restroom and parking lot paving at River Creek Park.
Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department Director Chris Wilson said Monday that the work at River Creek Park would benefit the public on multiple levels.
"Right now, it's an important bookend for us on the Yampa River Core Trail," Wilson said. "The trail was busy with people jogging, biking and pushing strollers (Sunday). It's key for us especially this time of year as we're transitioning," from winter to spring.
However, the paving of the parking lot and a bus turnaround are intended to provide facilities on the south side of town for people using multiple modes of transportation.
Documents prepared by Senior City Planner Bob Keenan for the Planning Commission reflect that one of the five goals of the City Council in 2011 was to provide more public restrooms, especially along the Core Trail.
"It is with this intent that the design of the park and ride was modified to include a combination restroom/bus shelter," Keenan wrote.
The city will use a pair of federal grants to pay for the project. City Public Works engineer Ben Beall said based on the grants, the budget for the project, including design costs, is $705,000 including a $140,000 grant match from the city.
The Planning Commission voted, 5-0, to recommend approval of the plan, though some of its members expressed concerns about the level of exterior building materials planned for the restroom/bus waiting area. Plans call for textured split concrete block and a corrugated steel shed roof that would extend over the front of the building to shelter benches for people waiting for a bus.
The 16.5-acre site is a former gravel pit located along a big bend in the Yampa River on the west side of the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road. The city created the parking lot in 2004 and screened it from view with earthen berms and landscaping.
The paving portion of the project will be funded by a Colorado Municipal Air Quality grant related to the city's ongoing efforts to stay within national standards for PM10 (small dust particle) pollution that is mitigated by paving dirt roads and parking lots as well as street sweeping.
Some of the expense of developing the facility includes water and sewer infrastructure.
The 450-square-foot restroom and bus shelter will use Federal Transit Administration funds to create a park and ride terminus to be used by the city's local and regional bus lines and perhaps the Greyhound bus and private transit services.
Plans include a bus turnaround and 63 parking spaces.
Although they voted to recommend approval of the project, Planning Commissioners Brian Hanlen and Rich Levy said they were not pleased with the way the restroom building matches up with the city's own design standards.
"I'll vote for this, but I feel like the city is setting a standard that no developer would be able to get away with," Hanlen said. "And this feels like a pretty low standard aesthetically."
Levy agreed, saying that although the restroom building as proposed technically meets the urban design standards, he's not convinced it lives up to the broad goal of requiring development to enhance the character of the city's main corridors.
Beall said Monday that city staff originally looked at a pre-fab national park style restroom building, but after studying the cost benefit issues, decided to work with local professionals to design the building. He added that the exterior materials were chosen for their appearance and their ability to stand up to abuse throughout time.
"It's a balancing act because our public restrooms get hammered," he said. "We wanted good design and something that can stand up to a beating."
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com