Steamboat Springs’ Emerald Mountain plans advance |

Steamboat Springs’ Emerald Mountain plans advance

City Council to review land agreement at meeting tonight

Mike Lawrence

Steamboat Springs resident Peter Berggren walks his dog Erik on Monday afternoon on Emerald Mountain. The city plans to close in March on the purchase of a 586-acre parcel on Emerald owned by Lyman Orton. The Steamboat Springs City Council will review a land-management agreement for that parcel tonight in Centennial Hall.

— The city plans to close in March on its purchase of a 586-acre Emerald Mountain parcel owned by Lyman Orton, but a few logistical steps remain.

One of those steps is on tonight's agenda for the Steamboat Springs City Council, which will take a first reading of an updated land-management agreement between the city and Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park. That group will manage and maintain the land, which will be open to the public in perpetuity for multiuse recreation. The city's purchase contract for the parcel requires approval of the land-management agreement. Pending a step forward tonight, City Council could finalize that approval in February.

The agreement does not contain specifications or timelines for trail projects or management of the land. Rather, it sets a broad framework for those future responsibilities. It requires the Mountain Park group to raise all funds necessary for managing the land, which will be done under provisions of documents including the parcel's conservation easement through the Yampa Valley Land Trust, a land-management plan developed by the city, and a Forestry Management Plan developed by the local branch of the Colorado State Forest Service.

The agreement stipulates that the land will remain open to the public for recreation, without restriction or cost, "with the exception of specific circumstances or events that would be approved in advance by the city." It also states that "no improvements, including structures, may be placed on the property" without prior city approval.

"It needed to be structured as generally as possible. Really, it's an organizational document to assign responsibilities for upkeep and management," Dan Smilkstein, president of the Mountain Park group, said about the proposed agreement.

City Council saw a draft land-management agreement for the parcel in November in order to get some form of the document to Great Outdoors Colorado. GOCo's board of directors approved Steamboat Springs' modified $600,000 grant for the purchase in December.

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In November, City Council asked for clarifications or more precise language on some issues related to the group's management of the land.

"We think the adjustments have been made to satisfy the concerns of City Council, but we'll find that out when it's presented (tonight)," Smilkstein said.

City Council approved a purchase contract of about $1.3 million on Oct. 19, pledging to spend $700,000 from the city's capital projects fund, plus about $16,000 in due diligence costs and the $600,000 GOCo grant.

City government programs manager Winnie DelliQuadri said Monday that the city will hopefully close the purchase in the first week of March.

"Our purchase agreement says that we have to purchase it by March 18 (and) our GOCo contract says we lose the money if we don't purchase it by the end of March," DelliQuadri said. "I'm hoping that we'll close that first week in March."

Smilkstein said the group met Monday night. Groups including the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Routt County Riders and others all planned to have representatives in attendance.

"Our agenda is really going to be to amend the bylaws and look at the planning process for the future," Smilkstein said. "This meeting is sort of the beginning of the idea process."

Smilkstein said in planning trail development and other ideas, in coming months and years, the Mountain Park group plans to have constant communication with the city. That communication often will occur through Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director Chris Wilson.

"There won't be any surprises thrown at City Council," Smilkstein said.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 970-879-2060 or visit for more information.

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