City, softball group still in the game |

City, softball group still in the game

— If negotiations with Triple Crown Sports go as the city hopes, Steamboat won’t be handing over a $75,000 check or using Emerald Park to support the sports tournaments.

This week, Steamboat’s negotiating committee will present Triple Crown’s Dave King a proposal that will have the city spending $75,000 on ballpark maintenance instead of a direct payment to Triple Crown.

Steamboat’s Triple Crown negotiating committee, which included two City Council representatives, city workers and the Chamber Resort Association’s president, is working on a contract to renew the five-year contract that expires in October.

The current contract has the city paying Triple Crown an annual fee of $75,000 and the chamber paying $25,000.

Under the negotiating committee’s proposal for the new contract, City Manager Paul Hughes said the city would like to use the $75,000 for improvements to the ballparks. But the chamber, or even area businesses, could still be paying a fee for the tournaments to come to Steamboat.

“It is fair to say at some point a dollar figure will be received from somebody. What we said and what we have general agreement on is that those dollars are not coming from the city,” Hughes said.

Instead, the city proposes to spend the money on needed improvements to the ballparks at Howelsen and Ski Town, improvements that range from fixing water fountains to holes in fences to scoreboards.

At last fall’s budget meetings, Councilman Paul Strong opposed giving Triple Crown the $75,000 check. But Strong, a member of the negotiating committee, does support using the money to maintain the fields that host both out-of-town teams and locals.

“We were not doing enough to maintain infrastructure, of putting money into infrastructure that is going to be there for the people of this town and not going elsewhere, not funding Triple Crown,” Strong said.

The proposal that King will see this week will also not specifically identify Emerald Park as one of the ball grounds where Triple Crown will play. But it does not limit it from future use either, Strong said.

When the city created Emerald Park in the early 1990s, it did not legally restrict the park for just local use, but Strong said it was the past council’s intent to provide a park for locals and something he felt should be honored in the current round of negotiations.

He also had reservations of using Emerald Park because of the issues raised by the Pamela Lane residents, who border the street with the only access into the park. Neighbors in the Emerald Park vicinity have expressed concerns over the potential traffic and noise that could be created by Triple Crown teams.

Strong said that while fields were specified for use in the proposal, Emerald Park is not. But there is nothing in the proposal that would limit it from future use either, he said.

“If you (take away) the problems of access issues and have other parks to make sure there were places for Steamboat kids to play, then Emerald Park could be back on the table,” Strong said.

But even if Emerald Park is not targeted for Triple Crown use, access issues still remain, said City Council President Kathy Connell, who doesn’t want Triple Crown to be a “lightning rod” for the problems with the park’s access.

On May 16, the council will meet at Emerald Park to look at options to add a second access. One of the major hurdles is that a second park entrance would most likely cross over the railroad tracks, which could drive costs from $500,000 to $2 million.

And with that kind of money, Strong said the city could think about building an additional park instead of a road.

The negotiating committee is meeting with King this week, but before the multiyear contract can be finalized, it must be passed by the City Council.

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