Committee thinks barn project, ice arena expansion most worthy of Steamboat’s lodging tax
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A committee that is helping the city of Steamboat Springs decide how to spend more than $1 million of lodging tax revenue thinks the money should be used to preserve a historic barn and help expand the Howelsen Ice Arena.
The committee’s recommendation, which specifically calls for spending $286,000 on the preservation of the Arnold Barn and $900,000 on the ice arena expansion, now goes to the City Council for consideration.
The lodging tax committee passed over a proposal to help fund an expansion of the Old Town Hot Springs after multiple committee members questioned whether that project would motivate tourists to come to town.
“My family, when we travel, whether or not a community has a rec center or facilities to work out in isn’t necessarily the main reason we travel,” committee member Frank Alfone said.
Several committee members felt the ice arena expansion had the most potential to bring more visitors to town, which is what the lodging tax was ultimately created to do.
The project would add 4,346 square feet to the concession area, 3,997 square feet of additional locker room space and a 25,806-square-foot open area structure that will facilitate a second sheet of ice in the winter and a practice field in the summer.
A majority of the committee was also drawn to the preservation of the Arnold Barn, which has been sitting neglected in the corner of the Meadows Parking Lot for several years.
Committee member Joella West thinks the preservation of the barn will help the city’s marketing efforts.
“That barn could very easily become the visual image that people see first,” she said. “It’s a very compelling image, and I think it’s an image that everybody who lives in this town could agree with. This is an agricultural community, it’s a ranching community and the image of the barn crystalizes that. It’s a memorable image that stays in (the visitor’s) mind.”
Built in 1928, the Arnold Barn served as the centerpiece of the Arnold family’s dairy farm.
Historic preservationists are hoping the lodging tax money could be used to help move the barn up the hill from the current location and preserve it just as the iconic More Barn was preserved.
The idea is to make the Arnold Barn a new iconic entrance feature to the resort area.
The committee’s recommendation to fund both the barn and the ice arena project was not unanimous.
Some committee members felt all of the money should be used on the ice arena, while committee member Nancy Kramer opposed the motion saying she had concerns about the feasibility and timing of the ice arena expansion.
The lodging tax committee’s recommendation will be presented to the City Council Sept. 19.
The committee would like to see the barn project funded and completed in the spring, and the ice arena project started sometime next year.
The lodging tax money comes from a 1 percent tax tourists pay on nightly stays in the city limits.
Committee members were tasked with figuring out how to best spend about $1.2 million in lodging tax revenue that has been deposited into a reserve fund.
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