Outdoor performance venue proposal at Spring Creek Park gets positive reception, but some questions linger | SteamboatToday.com

Outdoor performance venue proposal at Spring Creek Park gets positive reception, but some questions linger

Stuart Handloff, artistic director for the Great American Laughing Stock Company, has proposed a new outdoor amphitheater at Spring Creek Park and will be presenting at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. A mock-up of the proposed amphitheater is pictured above.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commissioners had positive reactions this week to the idea of adding a 200- to 300-seat amphitheater in Spring Creek Park, but several questions linger that might prevent the plan from becoming reality.

City officials and commissioners have raised questions about increased traffic in the area, how the venue fits into an overall parks master plan being put together as well as the timing of the project.

"Overall, there's a consensus with the commission that this is a really good idea, but how do we get there?," Commission Chairman Alan Koermer said Thursday. "How do we not delay another project that's ready to go?"

Koermer was referring to the city's plan to replace an aging dam at the Spring Creek Ponds with a new dam, a project that will change some of the topography in the area.

Proponents of the amphitheater are hoping to have their project become part of the dam work project.

But Koermer said he has concerns that pursuing the outdoor amphitheater could delay the city's execution of the dam project this summer.

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"This project is something I think has a firm deadline," Koermer said.

Stuart Handloff, the Piknik Theatre artistic director who is leading the charge to build the outdoor performance venue, said there was "overwhelming support" for the project from community members who attended the hearing about the idea Wednesday.

He told Steamboat Today last week no other place in town would offer the same types of amenities for outdoor performances than what would be available at Spring Creek Park.

He noted this week that the current location of performances at Yampa River Botanic Park are sometimes interrupted by highway noise, and that park has grown busier with events such as weddings.

"If things were different we'd probably stay there, but I have audience members who claim they can't hear," he said.

Nobody who spoke during public comment at Wednesday's Parks and Recreation Commission meeting spoke against the outdoor performance venue at Spring Creek.

Handloff did acknowledge he has heard outside of the meetings that at least one property owner who lives off the county road leading to the park is against the idea because of concerns about added traffic.

The plan calls for the use of an electric shuttle bus to ferry venue attendees from the nearby high school parking lot up to the parks at Spring Creek.

Handloff said he plans to pitch the idea to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday.