Council commits to base-area projects |

Council commits to base-area projects

Teen center design, Rehder Building improvements added to plan

Brandon Gee

The construction of a Burgess Creek diversion structure at this site is a top priority of the city's redevelopment authority at the base of Steamboat Ski Area - and a necessary precursor to flagship projects such as a promenade and summer daylighting of the creek. The Steamboat Springs City Council considered financing proposals for the projects Tuesday.

— Some projects are too important to fall victim to the current economic crisis, according to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which signaled Tuesday that it is willing to consider at least $11 million in new debt for its redevelopment area at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

In an effort to sustain the momentum of public improvement projects at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, the Urban Redevelopment Area Advisory Committee presented three financing options to City Council on Tuesday. Without the issuance of new debt this year, projections show the city’s URA running out of design and construction money by June.

“We have already made a significant amount of investment up there, and to just stop would not be prudent,” Councilman Steve Ivancie said. “We need to send a message that we are serious about our long-term future.”

Council did not rule out a $16 million scenario that would allow the construction of a promenade around the immediate ski base and other large projects to be completed in time for the start of the 2011-12 ski season. Members expressed a strong preference, however, for a smaller $11.2 million scenario that still would allow for the construction of the promenade and a rerouting of Burgess Creek through the ski base, but would eliminate perks such as a promenade snowmelt system, a major fountain at Gondola Square and a boulder play area in the creek.

“We need to keep the momentum going. We need to show we have faith in Steamboat,” City Council President Loui Antonucci said. “On the other hand, I’m really concerned about painting ourselves in a corner. : We don’t really know where property values are going.”

A definitive decision is expected at council’s May 5 meeting, by which time the Routt County Assessor’s Office will have issued a biennial reappraisal of property values to reflect values as of June 30, 2008. The reappraisal is key to consideration of a new bond because the URA is funded by incremental increases in sales and property taxes within its base-area boundaries.

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Council was quick to dismiss a $5.3 million bond measure that would only provide enough money for small infrastructure projects.

URAAC Chairman David Baldinger Jr. pushed hard for the $16 million scenario endorsed by the advisory committee.

“Our recommendation was unanimous and enthusiastic,” he said.

Baldinger said the $16 million scenario was not only affordable, but also based on very conservative assumptions that there would be no redevelopment at the base area – not including projects already under construction – during the life of the bond and that current properties would depreciate 5 percent three times: in 2013, 2019 and 2025. The smaller scenarios, he said, were based on an even more conservative assumption that there also would be a 20 percent reduction in valuation in 2011.

In other action

Also Tuesday, council gave preliminary approval to a “social host” ordinance that would allow authorities to fine people found guilty of knowingly providing a location for underage drinking. The ordinance passed on its first of two readings, 4-2, with Antonucci and Councilwoman Meg Bentley dissenting. Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski is on vacation and was not at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council unanimously approved giving $81,500 to the town of Hayden to allow it to complete three athletic fields that will be used by Triple Crown Sports this summer.

Council unanimously denied an appeal by developer True Mountain Homes, which was protesting a Planning and Community Development Department decision to draw on a letter of credit held in surety as part of subdivision improvements agreement for Longview Park.

The city is drawing the money to complete improvements that are three years overdue. True Mountain Homes argued that the city did not provide adequate written notice as stipulated in the improvements agreement before drawing on the letter of credit. Numerous Longview Park residents attended the meeting in support of the city’s decision and presented a slideshow that included photographs of the subdivision overrun by noxious weeds.