Steamboat Springs City Council funds new holiday lights downtown | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council funds new holiday lights downtown

Holiday lights grace downtown Steamboat Springs in February as traffic moves along Lincoln Avenue.

— Lincoln Avenue will be a bit jollier this holiday season.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night agreed to spend $35,000 to bring holiday lights back to the trees on Lincoln Avenue.

The lights have been dark for two holiday seasons now after a dog was shocked by a faulty lighting system.

City officials estimated it would cost more than $200,000 to replace the existing holiday light system.

But MainStreet Steamboat Springs Executive Director Lisa Popovich and local lighting company Christmas Decor were able to find an alternative plan that wouldn't break the city's bank.

The City Council was so into the idea of having the lights return, they also asked a lighting company to come back with a proposal to have the lights stay on all year long.

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"This is a signature of Steamboat," Councilman Scott Ford said of the lights on Lincoln.

Christmas D├ęcor plans to install the lights by drawing power from the roofs of local businesses.

In total, about 49 trees will be lit up with new LED lights.

City Manager Gary Suiter was proposing that the city fund half of the light installation with the other half coming from Main Street via fundraising efforts.

But the council worried the fundraising effort might not materialize in time to turn the lights on before the holiday season.

So they went all in, with a caveat.

The council made it clear that it wants to see the MainStreet board move toward another effort to get a business improvement district funded in the downtown corridor.

Popovich said the holiday lights were a prime example of why a BID would help the downtown area.

"This is what a BID pays for," Popovich said of the holiday lights. "Right now, there's not an alternate source of income for this, and there should be."

Downtown property owners have in recent years twice rejected a proposal to fund a BID with an increased property tax.

Ford suggested the failure of the most recent proposal was impacted by the BID being intertwined with funding a downtown urban renewal authority.

The council ultimately passed on funding the URA and instead elected to fund downtown improvement projects out of the city's capital improvement fund.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10