Steamboat Springs School Board grants access for bike park | SteamboatToday.com

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Steamboat Springs School Board grants access for bike park

— A group proposing a bicycle park on land between Whistler Park and Walton Creek cleared a big hurdle Thursday night.

The Steamboat Springs School Board unanimously approved a temporary construction easement for the park planners. The planners requested to use a district-owned right-of-way to get equipment to the park site for construction.

Park planner Blair Seymour said the School Board's approval of the beginner to intermediate skills park was a "good first step," but there are several more hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality.

Because the city would assume liability of the park, the Parks and Recreation Commission would need to approve it, action that Seymour said is scheduled for September. Also next month, she said the Routt County Planning Commission would consider a conditional land-use permit.

Seymour said it's not required, but park planners also will ask for the City Council's blessing next month.

If approved by each group, Seymour said park planners would need a memorandum of understanding with the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, which owns the land where the park is proposed. She said park planners have a draft agreement with Mount Werner Water contingent on the other approvals.

The agreement would permit the operation of the park for three years.

Some Whistler Park neighbors have complained about the proposed park, saying the noise and dust associated with its construction would negatively impact their neighborhood. They also question the park's impact on wildlife.

No one opposing the park attended Thursday's School Board meeting.

The temporary construction easement approved by the School Board is valid up to November 2011. Although they supported the motion, some School Board members wanted that date extended. They expressed concern that the park planners wouldn't be able to complete construction by that date.

School Board President Robin Crossan suggested requiring completion by June 30, 2012.

"If they don't get their ducks in a row, they'll have until next spring," she said.

School Board member Laura Anderson, who proposed the first required completion date, said because it was a temporary construction easement, the completion date shouldn't be extended too far in the future. If it's not completed before November, park planners would need to seek approval again.

Seymour said the goal was to start the park's two- or three-week construction of jumps and banked curves Oct. 1.

The Steamboat-based nonprofit Directional Development Foundation is paying for the park, Seymour said. She has said the park's estimated cost is $17,000.

Seymour said the park was necessary for youths and adults to learn the skills necessary to use Steamboat's more advanced bicycle terrain.

"If you look at the mountain, they put a jump line in there but there's no place to learn that," she said. "We need a place to teach people how to do these things. It's a short-term effort until Howelsen (the city) or Mount Werner (Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.) realizes the need for this facility."

Also Thursday, the School Board unanimously approved two memorandums of understanding with agencies to operate the Colorado Preschool Program. First Impressions of Routt County was appointed as the oversight agency for the program, which would be run by the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com