Trails plan moving slowly | SteamboatToday.com

Trails plan moving slowly

County asks for more involvement

Mike Lawrence

Mark Hancock walks along the Yampa River Core Trail on Wednesday. The city is creating an Open Space and Trails Master Plan for the area, which has drawn criticism from county officials.

— City staff members are moving forward with the creation of an Open Space and Trails Master Plan for the Steamboat area, but the process is taking longer than expected.

Craig Robinson, open space supervisor for the city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, met with Routt County Commissioners on Tuesday to provide an update on the plan, which Robinson said is intended to “preserve, protect, enhance and manage” open space resources in the city and surrounding areas such as Steamboat II. The plan also aims to clarify a vision for future open space and trail use around Steamboat.

While Robinson intended to prepare a first draft of the master plan by November, he told commissioners Tuesday that the first draft could be completed in February, with a final draft possibly in March.

Robinson said one “snag” in the process has been adding bicycle-friendly plans to local trails and roads, an initiative the city is funding with $20,000 from the 2007 budget.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak told Robinson that another snag is a lack of county involvement. Stahoviak said the 2004 update of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan says the creation of an open space master plan will be a joint process between the city and county, but in her mind, that collaboration hasn’t occurred.

“I don’t feel that this has been a joint process,” Stahoviak said. “We weren’t involved in forming the scope of work or in hiring a consultant, and that concerns me greatly. I very much see this right now as a city plan.”

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Robinson acknowledged that the city hired a Fort Collins environmental consultant before receiving county input, but he told Stahoviak it was never the city’s intention to exclude county officials from development of the plan.

“We wanted you involved from the start,” Robinson said.

Robinson hosted a public meeting in August to gather input for the plan and to discuss sensitive areas such as recreational trails, scenic corridors, wildlife corridors, river corridors and agricultural properties.

The next public meeting is expected to take place in mid-January.