Howelsen Hill repair project put on hold | SteamboatToday.com
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Howelsen Hill repair project put on hold

Howelsen Hill shines under the lights beside downtown Steamboat Springs.
040214_Council

Other budget hearing highlights

• The city's plan to increase its workforce next year by nearly 10 full time equivalents was met with much scrutiny by the council.

• The council voted, 5-2, to limit the FTE growth to six full-time equivalents.

• A new park ranger program, a part-time firefighting position, extra office hours at the front desk at City Hall and a public works office coordinator are among the positions questioned by the council.

• City staff will bring back an alternative staffing proposal when the budget comes back for a first reading next month.

• Council members Scott Ford and Sonja Macys opposed the motion to limit the FTE growth to six.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council won’t consider funding an expensive project to shore up the earth around the ski jumps on Howelsen Hill until engineers can tell the city more about the likelihood of future landslides in the area.

Other budget hearing highlights

• The city’s plan to increase its workforce next year by nearly 10 full time equivalents was met with much scrutiny by the council.

• The council voted, 5-2, to limit the FTE growth to six full-time equivalents.



• A new park ranger program, a part-time firefighting position, extra office hours at the front desk at City Hall and a public works office coordinator are among the positions questioned by the council.

• City staff will bring back an alternative staffing proposal when the budget comes back for a first reading next month.



• Council members Scott Ford and Sonja Macys opposed the motion to limit the FTE growth to six.

“The history on Howelsen has been to fix one area, then the area above it, below it or next to it slides,” councilman Tony Connell said. “Is that a great investment to make? If we fix this area (next to the ski jumps), is the area around it going to slide?”

Connell and the council hope a comprehensive soil study of the entire hill will better guide future repairs and lead to a strategic maintenance plan.

He said such a soil study has been recommend by engineers who have performed previous repairs on the hill.

The council on Tuesday voted unanimously to remove the $880,000 worth of stabilization work city staff wanted to do over the next two years on Howelsen from the city’s capital improvement program.

The project was replaced with the $150,000 soil study.

Gabion baskets that serve as retaining walls near some of the ski jumps are starting to fail, and city staff was proposing to replace the baskets next year and use soil nails to further stabilize the earth on the steep slopes.

If the gabion baskets give way, city staff fears the shifting earth could cause serious damage to the landing zones on the jumps.

And if the retaining walls fail in the spring, Connell said he felt an emergency repair could be done on the hill for less than the amount the city was proposing to spend on stabilization efforts.

In addition to the soil study, the council approved a $50,000 contingency budget for maintenance on the hill and $25,000 to replace a water pump that failed in August.

Crews are currently working to stabilize a part of the ski hill that was damaged by a spring mudslide.

The slide damaged the chairlift and Alpine slide and has cost the city $355,000 to fix.

As maintenance and repair bills have mounted on the hill, some council members have appeared to question whether maintaining the current level of operations at Howelsen is worth the large capital cost.

The council will discuss the future of maintenance and funding at Howelsen during a work session next month.

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


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