Steamboat’s mountain urban renewal authority seeking redesign for difficult intersection | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s mountain urban renewal authority seeking redesign for difficult intersection

People gather at the promenade at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area to enjoy music and wade in Burgess Creek. The "beach" is in the background near the staircase to Torian Plum Plaza.

— Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Authority, will be asked Tuesday to consider approving the use of urban renewal funds to add a second sand beach on Walton Creek along the promenade at the base of Steamboat Ski Area — a request that comes against the recommendations of city staff and redevelopment attorney Malcom Murray.

The proposal is among nine projects the Urban Renewal Authority Advisory Committee is bringing forward for funding. City staff also is not in favor of a plan to use URA monies to replace existing trash bins with seven bear-proof receptacles. According to public works staff, bear-proof trash containers should have been installed initially and suggests the additional expense be covered by maintenance funds.

The new “beach” would be downstream on Burgess Creek from the existing sandy area at the foot of the stairs into Torian Plum Plaza. With wading pools and small waterfalls to play in, the beach has become an attraction for visiting families.

Another long-anticipated plan to use elements from the old "Butterfly Barn" to build an "iconic barn entry sign" to the mountain resort on Mount Werner Circle has city staff's approval if it can be incorporated into meaningful way-finding for visitors arriving at the base. Murray remains skeptical about whether that project represents appropriate use of URA funds.

According to documents on file at the city, Murray agrees that all three projects relate to the goal of the Base Area Reinvestment Plan, but he does not believe they "materially address the original conditions of blight (fundamental to the URA) or are not a prudent use of public funds."

While the beach and the barn are expected to dominate the discussion among URAAC and SSRA members, the biggest infrastructure project on the agenda is URAAC's request for authorization to spend another $47,000 on design and construction drawings that could lead to realignment of the tricky intersection at Village Drive and Apres Ski Way in the summer of 2016. The intersection is located on the southern edge of the ski area and at the entrance to One Steamboat Place.

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City public works engineer Danny Paul said Monday that since the completion of the heated promenade at the base of the ski area, the entrance to One Steamboat Place "functions as a major portal to the ski area."

However, the asymmetrical intersection has always been problematic and fixing it has been a goal since the URA was formed.

Pedestrians with skis and children in tow wait to cross Apres Ski Way against westbound traffic that has gathered speed on a downhill stretch that is sometimes icy. Mix in condo shuttle vans and Steamboat Springs Transit buses turning through the uncontrolled intersection, and it's a challenge for everyone involved.

URA Project Manager Ralph Walton said Monday that URAAC has selected the Boulder engineering firm Drexel, Barrell & Co. to design the reconfigured intersection, which currently is not comprised of right angles. Drexel, Barrell has worked on other intersections in Steamboat, he added.

One possibility that has been discussed, Walton said, is bringing up the elevation of the intersection to mitigate the westbound hill, but that would be costly and create issues for surrounding property owners.

"Hopefully, we'll get a right-angled intersection that doesn't cost too much," Walton.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Steamboat Mountain URA background

The Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority was created in December 2004 in conjunction with the completion of the Base Area Redevelopment Plan.

The plan identified deficiencies and deterioration of public infrastructure and deficient circulation plans for traffic and pedestrians.

The SSRA determined that the public areas needed to be redeveloped, and it created a funding mechanism through a TIF (tax increment financing) on sales and property taxes collected within the plan area.

Past URA projects

Capital improvements completed between 2007 and 2013 include: the Ski Time Square roundabout and bus stop with associated utility work; installation of new pedestrian lighting, way-finding and landscaping; the Mt. Werner/Apres Ski Way roundabout, lighting, sidewalks and landscaping; daylighting the creek during summer months; and the snow-melted promenade fronting buildings at the edge of the ski slopes.