City Council to consider downtown blight designation on Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

City Council to consider downtown blight designation on Tuesday

Scott Franz

A sidewalk on Oak Street in downtown Steamboat Springs suddenly ends near the street's intersection with 10th Street.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will decide Tuesday whether it wants to declare that the city’s downtown corridor is “blighted” in order to qualify for a $600,000 grant which could be used to build new sidewalks and address other infrastructure needs.

Poor pedestrian lighting, missing sidewalks and the presence of a flood zone were some of the things that led a consultant to deem the downtown area blighted last year.

The state considers blight as anything that inhibits the growth of a municipality.

Several cities around the state have used blight designations as legal impetus for using tax increment financing to fund revitalization projects in urban renewal areas.

Earlier this year, the city council here passed on a controversial proposal to use tax increment financing to fund the improvements, but it can still approve the blight designation to qualify for a hefty community development block grant from the Department of Local Affairs.

Should the council decide against accepting the consultant’s finding of blight, it would need to find another way to fund a portion of a $10.3 million downtown revitalization project.

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Tired of seeing plans for a promenade, sidewalks and other basic downtown improvements collecting dust on shelves for decades, the council in July pulled the trigger on the biggest investment in the downtown corridor in many years.

The council agreed to pay for the $10.3 million list of improvements by using a combination of grants, sidewalk assessments, franchise fees, certificates of participation and reserves from the city’s general fund.

The city is proposing to spend $4.8 million on the downtown improvements next year.

Many of the projects proposed for the first year of the multi-year improvement project are on Yampa and Oak streets.

The initial spending would underground utilities, create new sidewalks and construct a promenade on the riverside roadway.

New sidewalks would be built on Oak between Third to 12th streets.

The city is proposing to spend an additional $3.8 million on downtown infrastructure improvements in 2017, and $1.5 million in 2018.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10