URA hopes to avoid delay | SteamboatToday.com

URA hopes to avoid delay

City officials approve budget, contracts for base area projects

Brandon Gee

— With the approval of a budget and contracts Tuesday, an urban redevelopment authority at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area will be able to limp through at least part of 2009.

The URA – created by the city in 2005 to finance and build public improvements that would in turn encourage private redevelopment of the aging ski base – is faced with a dwindling budget because of the city’s unwillingness to issue debt in a volatile economy.

The URA completed major projects each of the past two years, including this year’s construction of a roundabout at Mount Werner Circle and AprÃs Ski Way. But it remains to be seen whether any ground is broken in 2009. That will depend on whether the economy stabilizes to a point where the city is willing to issue a multi-million-dollar bond to fund the next few years of improvements.

While awaiting that decision, Redevelopment Coordinator Joe Kracum said the $1 million URA budget approved Tuesday by the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, will allow design work to continue through the spring.

“It’s a lower gear, don’t get me wrong,” Kracum said.

Council also approved a $50,000 contract to retain Kracum through May 31, a $72,000 contract to retain design consultant Wenk Associates through March 31 and a $24,000 contract to retain construction contractor JBCM through March 31. Those contracts also were approved Tuesday.

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Kracum, City Council President Loui Antonucci and interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said there was a strong desire to retain institutional knowledge and keep the current redevelopment team together.

“They’ve done a good job, and they work well together,” Antonucci said. “To start from scratch, you go through the learning curve all over again.”

If a bond is issued by March or April, Kracum said, the URA would have time to get in a “decent construction season” that could include $5 million in projects. Potential projects include underground utility work that, if completed in 2009, would make it easier for the URA to pull the trigger on its flagship projects in 2010. Those projects include an all-seasons promenade that would ring the immediate ski base, as well as a summertime daylighting of Burgess Creek through the base area.

“We can make it work,” Kracum said. “We’ve all committed to it. We all want to see it through. : We’re all just hoping the economy straightens out.”

If not, Kracum said, the URA might have to enter “hibernation.” Even then, DuBord said, the design work already approved for this year would not go to waste.

“None of that work is going to go stale,” she said.