City to restrict new events on Steamboat’s busiest weekends
No new events will be allowed on July 4, Winter Carnival and rainbow weekend
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat is drawing the line on events held during Winter Carnival, the July Fourth weekend and the weekend of Art in the Park and the Balloon Rodeo.
“This isn’t changing anything that we’re doing, other than saying, ‘on the Fourth of July, if you’re not a traditional Fourth of July event, you don’t get to do it,’” said Winnie DelliQuadri, assistant to the Steamboat Springs city manager. “What that means for the community is all the stuff we’re used to seeing on the Fourth of July is going to continue to happen. What’s not going to happen is anything new.”
The city revised its special events policy earlier this year at the same time it adopted a new permitting process for event producers. At Tuesday’s Steamboat Springs City Council work session, city staff presented an update on this policy.
Elements of the policy this year were adopted this summer, but DelliQuadri said the city waited to determine what events or weekends overburden the city. On these weekends, city staff believe they have hit capacity, she explained.
The policy, according to the city’s website, includes the following criteria for determining when an event or an area of the city is at capacity:
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- Venues will have a maximum capacity determined by venue size.
- Areas within the city will have a maximum capacity based on impact and public safety access.
- The city as a whole has a maximum capacity based on staffing, safety and impacts.
“We started off this process because our staff had concerns about public safety, and the community was really voicing opposition to how crowded and busy town was and how the residents were being impacted by all these events,” DelliQuadri said. “Our goal was to try to deal with the public safety and minimize the impacts.”
She added that the city identified “a need to be able to say ‘no’ to somebody who is proposing to do something.”
A major reason for these blackouts is to maintain public safety, both in avoiding creating situations where emergency vehicles can’t access someone who needs help and in keeping enough first responders on duty to adequately serve crowds.
On the Fourth of July, police and community service officers work hours that Police Chief Cory Christensen said left them too tired to safely protect the public.
“I already canceled all the vacations. I canceled everybody’s day off. I do that every year,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Cory Christensen told the council. “I work them 20 and 24 hours straight. (Community service officers) are coming in at 7 a.m. in the morning, going home at midnight, and that’s just unsafe. Our problem is we put too many people in there with everything, and we just don’t have the people to manage it properly.”
This change would impact the Steamboat Free Summer Concerts and the Mainstreet Steamboat Farmers Market.
Though the organizations frequently hold their respective events around July 4, it’s not considered a traditional July Fourth event. With July Fourth on a Saturday in 2020, which is the same day as the Farmers Market, street closure for the parade takes priority over the street closure for the Farmers Market, meaning that with Lincoln Avenue closed, the Farmers Market wouldn’t be allowed on Yampa Street, DelliQuadri said.
In public comment, Coleman Cook, vice president of the Steamboat Free Summer Concerts board, said the organization understands the reasons behind the blackouts, particularly from a public safety standpoint, but “it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
“It is two of our highest revenue-generating weekends of the summer, and our season is already short as it is,” he said.
Lisa Popovich, director of Mainstreet Steamboat, said while the Farmers Market typically sees 5,000 people on average, that number increases to 15,000 on the Fourth of July weekend.
City staff were instructed to investigate other locations for these events.
DelliQuadri said the public is encouraged to give feedback both on policies and specific events by contacting Rachel Lundy, the city’s special events coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding assistance for application fees
Earlier this year, the Steamboat Springs City Council allocated $20,000 to the Steamboat Springs Chamber to assist organizations by reimbursing groups for up to $1,000 for what was then brand new application fees. As of Tuesday, $4,564 of that money had been used, according to documents presented at the meeting.
City Council decided to maintain that funding assistance, though organizations that have reached their $1,000 cap in funding assistance will not be allowed to apply for further reimbursements.
Emergency response plans
While many sporting events are already required to submit emergency response plans, the city will now ask more events to submit plans, including:
- Events with more than 500 people
- When the Howelsen Hill Rodeo grounds and amphitheater are both in use
- For all events at Howelsen Hill when more than 1,000 people will be attending events
“This is all just making sure that the planning and preparation is in place, so that if someone does have something happen, like someone has a heart attack at a concert, or some other event, that the event producer and the city are on the same page as to what the plan is for that,” DelliQuadri said.
Relationships between venues and parking lots
The city will also now automatically black out adjacent areas and parking lots when certain criteria are met. This mostly impacts Howelsen Hill.
For example, if someone has reserved the rodeo arena, the livestock parking area and parking area nearby, the sand volleyball courts at Howelsen would no longer be available for reservation as a venue, as rodeo users would likely use that road to transport livestock in and out of the area, Delliquadri said.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, so that we don’t have conflicting events making each of the events that might be in conflict a bad experience,” she said.
On city-owned sports fields, the city will adopt new definitions of what events should use the Parks and Recreation’s field rentals process and which should apply for special activity permits. Within special activity uses, the city will be working to define what is considered a private or public event.
To view the City Council’s discussion on this topic and documents presented at the meeting, visit steamboatsprings.net/agendas.
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