Improving Ski Time Square, adding more nightlife are top public wants for mountain area |

Improving Ski Time Square, adding more nightlife are top public wants for mountain area

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and City Council are moving forward in finalizing the Mountain Area Master Plan, which guides how the city will build and design the area surrounding Steamboat Resort.

“As the mountain area ages, it’s important to have a defined vision, supported across the community, to shape where we go and what we would like to see,” said Rebecca Bessey, city planning and community development director. “As well, the plan must protect the unique character of the community along with the Yampa Valley.”

The city sought public comment on the plan earlier this year, and city officials said they were pleased to see feedback was higher than anticipated, with 401 participants and more than 1,400 written responses.

“Both the number of people that participated and the quality of responses were really amazing,” said Julie Baxter, city senior planner. “We didn’t expect to get that much great info.”

Of the responses, Baxter said most were in support of improving pedestrian safety throughout the area, infrastructure improvements on Ski Time Square, adding more nightlife options to the mountain area and protecting historic structures that add to Steamboat’s charm as a Western town.

However, when asked about options to pay for such improvements, most participants were not in favor of another tax or paid parking, both of which were offered as options.

The planning commission discussed the matter in its Monday work session, so no vote took place. The next step is to create an official draft, which will be presented in June to City Council.

“Based on the vision of the community, we look at what types of actions the city can take to help fund and facilitate different activities that we can implement to achieve that vision,” Baxter said. “We’re seeing a lot of growth and change in Steamboat, so this is one of the reasons we can learn the community’s vision and priorities and work to shape the long-term visions of the community.”

Many respondents also said they felt there was a lack of vibrancy and businesses in the off-season and at night after the resort closes.

As for solutions to bring more to the area, 80% of respondents said they were in favor of bringing some sort of activity that would bring year-round visitors to the mountain area, such as a museum, conference center or other event opportunity; 64% were in favor of the city hiring a separate entity focused entirely on the development of the mountain area; and 76% were in favor of replacing the current gondola building with other amenities.

Baxter said the city has been communicating with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and planned to explore the changes while the resort is undergoing a series of construction and changes of its own.

“We’re thrilled at the level of participation in this community and from our community partners,” Baxter said.

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