Council to support parks and rec |

Council to support parks and rec

Officials to help department weather economic storm

Brandon Gee
Custom On-Site worker Deric Knape holds a piece of siding while Hector Gomez cuts it Tuesday at the city's new Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department building. City Council on Tuesday assured the Parks and Recreation Commission of continued financial support.
Matt Stensland

If you go

What: Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center

Call: Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department at 879-4300 for more information

— The city’s prized parks and recreation programs received assurances of support at a joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday.

But it was also clear the programs would not be immune to budget difficulties.

Commission Chairman Curtis Church said budget cuts make sense at a time of economic uncertainty but implored council not to neglect its best revenue source in the process. Church and other commission members argued that parks and recreation programming generates sales tax receipts, the city’s primary source of revenue.

“People don’t come here to visit our museums as their first move,” Commissioner Jack Trautman said. “It is mainly the outdoor activities. : This is what we’re all about. This is our brand.”

City Council members stopped short of lumping parks and recreation into the category of core services of government, such as snowplowing or public safety. But it was noted that surveys of residents consistently show that parks, open space and recreation are among the city’s most valued amenities.

“My No. 1 concern is we don’t lose any ground,” Councilman Steve Ivancie said. “We’ll make it through this. It’s just not going to be an easy thing.”

A majority of council members agreed and said they hope to weather the current economic storm without any noticeable reduction in parks and recreation services.

“Maybe this is a good time to back up and focus on what we have and the maintenance of existing facilities before we take any steps forward,” City Council President Loui Antonucci said.

With an eye toward tourists, Councilman Scott Myller asked the Parks and Recreation Commission to wrestle with the question of whether the city should focus its efforts more on Steamboat-specific activities such as kayaking, mountain biking and Nordic skiing, rather than traditional sports such as basketball and softball.

Councilman Jon Quinn, however, cautioned against looking above the heads of local residents in an effort to cater to visitors.

There was little discussion with council Tuesday concerning two draft master plans the Parks and Recreation Commission is in the process of reviewing. Council members expressed support of recommendations in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, calling for the pursuit of alternative funding sources – such as selling sponsorships of Town Challenge races – and the development of a comprehensive volunteer program. That plan and a Yampa River Structural Master Plan are up for discussion tonight at a regular meting of the commission.

No official action was taken at Tuesday’s City Council work session, during which council members also discussed the city’s five-year plan for capital improvements, strategic goals and values and a prioritization listing of city services.

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