Discussion on next steps for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club facility planned for Tuesday

Process outlined by city staff could take 16 months, involves community outreach, survey

This rendering shows a proposed 17,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. City staff say the process to gauge need and interest in the site would include parking and traffic studies, discussions among the park’s main users and a communitywide survey
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club/Courtesy photo

A public process to review the community’s appetite for a new strength and conditioning facility at the base of Howelsen Hill could take as long as 16 months, should City Council decide to pursue it.  

Based on the agenda for the Tuesday, Jan. 3, council discussion on the proposed facility, which would largely be used by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the process would include parking and traffic studies, discussions among the park’s main users and, eventually, a communitywide survey.

“The outcome of this process would most likely be an amendment to the Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Trails and River Master Plan and would need to be adopted by city council,” the summary reads. “This process would take roughly 12-16 months.”

The proposal from SSWSC was seemingly nixed in October when city staff recommended against approving a land-use agreement for the building, as it was not part of the larger master plan for the area.

Council revived the effort during a November meeting that saw several people ask City Council to reconsider the proposal. In that meeting, council directed staff to come up with a recommendation to review the proposal in a way that would get community feedback.

Officials at SSWSC assert such a facility is needed, as the club’s participation has grown tenfold since the David DeHaven Strength Center was built in 1999. Staff’s review indicated such a facility is not identified as a need for the general public.

City staff met with SSWSC leaders in November and December, agreeing to a multi-pronged process, should council opt to pursue it.

That process would start with a parking and traffic study this summer and would evaluate the entire Howelsen Hill complex next winter to determine what growth would be appropriate. Current estimates for those studies are $100,000, and the city would ask SSWSC and other users like the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo for help with funding.

Also this summer, the city would hire a consultant to lead “a charrette-like process” with the main user groups of the park to look at what their absolute needs are, what would be nice to have for future growth and what is non-negotiable.

“The goal would be for all parties to clearly understand what is needed for a sustainable future for Howelsen Hill and how all parties can help each other succeed,” staff wrote.

Then in spring 2024, the city would conduct a community survey to weigh if the community desire for the future of Howelsen has changed, as previous surveys have shown a desire to maintain existing features, with tepid support for new amenities. Along with the survey, the city would offer open houses or public meetings to allow the community to directly weigh in on potential changes.

City staff’s recommendation is still not to proceed with this process at this time, as there are other priorities and limited staffing and funding availability. If City Council opts to move forward with the review as outlined, Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby indicated several current priorities would need to be eliminated or differed.

An alternative to scrapping priorities would be to add another full-time employee in the Parks and Recreation Department. The discussion is scheduled to last an hour following public comments at Tuesday’s meeting.

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