Steamboat officials OK Gossard Parkway deal |

Steamboat officials OK Gossard Parkway deal

City gives initial OK to agreement with excavator; other appeals are pending

Mike Lawrence

Work continues Thursday on the construction of Gossard Parkway off Downhill Drive in Steamboat Springs. City officials gave initial approval Tuesday to an agreement with neighboring Johnson Excavation. Lawsuits related to the parkway still are pending in the Colorado Court of Appeals.

— City officials appear to have resolved one issue involving the construction of Gossard Parkway, but the state appeals court likely won't rule on separate lawsuits related to the future road for months.

The Steamboat Springs City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to an agreement with Charles "C.D." Johnson, who owns Johnson Excavation and its lot on Downhill Drive at a future intersection with the new parkway on Steamboat's west side. The agreement is a partial settlement with Johnson after the city took eminent domain action to claim about 1,300 square feet of his lot for construction of the parkway.

The road had been known as the New Victory Parkway and recently was renamed after late philanthropist Gloria Gossard. The road's initial segment is scheduled for completion in summer 2011 and will stretch behind West Acres Mobile Home Park, providing access to Overlook Park, a potential future subdivision.

Eminent domain is a legal mechanism enabling the city to take private property for public use. In response to the city's action, Johnson argued that changes to his lot would restrict his ability to use and maintain a flatbed trailer, known as a "lowboy," on the lot. Steamboat staff attorney Dan Foote said that after redesigns and testing last summer, the city agreed to add an entrance off Downhill to the Johnson lot — improving lowboy access to the site — and to add a turning lane at the future intersection to improve lowboy access to the road.

The City Council approved a first reading of an ordinance formalizing the agreement with a 6-0 vote Tuesday. Councilman Scott Myller was absent. A second and potentially final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 15. The agreement also approves an easement on an adjacent lot, also owned by Johnson, to allow the city to install and maintain a fire hydrant near the parkway.

Johnson acknowledged the agreement Thursday.

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"On the fire hydrant easement, the city was fine, that agreement went according to plan," he said. "As far as the lowboy entrance, that's a pretty sticky situation there, but I believe the city did the best they could considering where we're located. … They did everything that they needed to do to make it work. I was very pleasantly surprised. (Public Works Director) Philo Shelton, I thought he did a very good job at trying to make that work."

Foote said the agreement with Johnson is separate from lawsuits related to Gossard Parkway that are pending action from the Colorado Court of Appeals.

About 80 tenants at West Acres Mobile Home Park have filed a consolidated lawsuit to receive compensation for loss of a greenbelt the road would replace. Johnson has filed a separate lawsuit, Johnson and Foote said, disputing the value of the property the city is taking by eminent domain and the value of the greenbelt.

Foote said the court has no deadline to issue a ruling. Briefings related to the lawsuits were completed at about the end of April, he said.

"My guess is it's going to be probably three to six months" from the end of April, Foote said. "Sometime this summer or this fall I would hope for a ruling."

Johnson emphasized that the agreement currently before the council is separate from the lawsuit under appeal.

"The two cases are going ahead, and it's separate at this point," Johnson said. "There'll probably be plenty to be said after the court of appeals" ruling.