New trails on Emerald Mountain and Howelsen Hill could be 1st to be funded by lodging tax
April 2, 2014
Steamboat Springs — New directional trails on Howelsen Hill, a better trailhead on the west side of Emerald Mountain and a safer pedestrian crossing near Rotary Park headline the first round of projects that could be built this summer with the city’s lodging tax.
Also on the list is a connecting trail on the Lower Spring Creek Trail and other trails on Emerald.
At the end of a extensive vetting process Wednesday, members of the city’s trails lodging tax committee identified these projects as their top priority for summer 2014.
Members expressed a desire to get something accomplished with the lodging tax quickly and build some excitement before winter returns again.
The meeting started with a sense of urgency because of a tight window city staff faces in getting projects ready in time for possible summer builds.
"We need to do design work now so they can be put out to bid and we can contract with vendors to have stuff happen this summer in a timely fashion," Government Programs Manager Winnie DelliQuadri told the committee.
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The seven projects staff will look into were on a list of 10 that potentially could be started this year.
The three projects that were passed over included enhanced pedestrian crossings at Little Toots Park and East Maple Street and a beginner pump track at Stehley Park.
Those projects ranked at the bottom of the list largely because of the committee’s thought that they would do little to promote tourism.
The committee is expected to start making decisions on which trail projects to proceed with this summer after city staff returns with bids, designs and firm cost estimates.
After the 2014 projects were ranked, the committee continued its ongoing task of ranking all 46 projects that can be funded by an estimated $5.2 million of the city’s lodging tax for the next decade.
They’ll spend the next two weeks prioritizing trails on Rabbit Ears Pass that still are at least two years away from a potential building date.
In the spotlight Wednesday was the proposed 20-mile Walton Rim Trail that could connect Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat Ski Area.
Routt County Riders vice president Eric Meyer, who walked much of the proposed route this summer, described the views from the potential trail as "phenomenal."
Committee members also were impressed by the potential.
"This would put Steamboat right on the map," Pete Wither said as the group gave the trail a high ranking.
However, local wildlife officials ranked it low on their list of priorities because of its potential to impact such things as elk and deer migration.
"Animals need habitat year round," Steamboat Springs District Wildlife Manager Danielle Isenhart said. "They need migration and transition zones. Just because (this trail) is not winter range doesn’t mean it’s not impact habitat. It’s a big trail with lots of users, and it’s going to have an impact."
The committee will continue discussing the trails on Rabbit Ears at their next meeting April 9.