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City Council weighs in on capital improvement plan

Families enjoy one of the ponds fed by Spring Creek. The Upper Spring Creek Dam is more than a century old and is in need of costly repairs or replacement.
Scott Franz

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is poised to soon debate the future of Spring Creek Park, the timing of the construction of a new fire station and whether to add seat belts to regional buses in the wake of a city bus crash that sent several people to the hospital.

The city’s elected officials will also revisit a previous debate about whether to move forward with the replacement of an aging child care facility.

On Tuesday morning, council member mostly cruised through several capital projects that the city is proposing for the next six years.



But they spent more time discussing some of the following items that will be up for debate at an Oct. 4 budget work session.

Seat belts on buses



City officials estimate it would cost about $120,000 to add seat belts to the four regional buses that shuttle passengers between Steamboat Springs and Craig.

The city started looking into the seat belts after a March 29 crash between a passenger vehicle and a Steamboat Springs Transit Bus.

An uninsured driver with bald tires lost control of his vehicle and hit the bus head on.

A video of the inside of the bus during the crash showed passengers being thrown to the front of the bus. One passenger sustained a broken nose, while others sustained facial injuries.

Passenger Tracy Sheldon told Steamboat Today after the crash that she wouldn’t feel safe riding on the regional route until buses were equipped with seat belts.

Council President Walter Magill told city staff on Tuesday he will not support the addition of seat belts to all of the seats on the regional buses.

“I think we’ve run the regional bus safely for 20 years, and we were still running it safely when someone hit us head on,” Magill said.

Councilman Scott Ford suggested the city look into the cost of adding seatbelts only to some of the front rows of the bus.

He noted the buses are not running at 100 percent capacity.

Spring Creek Park

An aging dam is creating some tough decisions for city officials.

The cheapest option for the city would be to breach the dam in the coming years and restore Spring Creek.

But city officials say this option, which they estimate could cost $202,500, could lead to the loss of a water right.

The ponds that make up Spring Creek Park would also go away, as would Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s ability to use the ponds to raise cutthroat trout.

If the City Council wants to preserve the ponds, they’d have to sign a much bigger check.

The city estimates it would cost $810,000 to repair the Upper Spring Creek Dam, or $1.1 million to breach that dam and instead rebuild the Lower Spring Creek Dam.

Fire station

Some council members appear ready to postpone the proposed construction of a new fire station until 2019.

Under the city’s proposed capital plan, funding for the construction of a new central fire station would start in 2017, with the actual construction happening in 2018.

Council members noted plans for a new police facility are still not finalized, and it could take some more time for the fire station plans to come to fruition.

Igloo

In July, City Council put a plan to replace the city’s Igloo on ice.

City officials say the aging child care facility is getting close to being uninhabitable. They want to replace it with a new modular building.

Council members were concerned by the project’s $775,000 price tag and suggested there could be better alternatives.

They voted to table the project until Oct. 4.

City staff will provide an update on the project on that date.

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


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