Lift repair, ice arena construction slated for Howelsen park

The Steamboat Springs City Council will replace the Barrows Chairlift, with initial work beginning this year.
File photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The chairlift on Steamboat’s historic ski area, Howelsen Hill, is soon expected to get a lift.

Contractors from Utah are expected to complete repairs on the Barrows Chairlift later this month. City council approved the construction up to $35,000.

The repair will keep the lift operational for this winter’s Ski Free Sundays and the free learn to ski program for second graders in the Steamboat Springs School District. In a June meeting, council approved continuing both programs this winter.

The Alpine Slide will not open this season, said Interim Parks and Recreation Director Craig Robinson.

“There’s quite a bit of work that would need to go into getting the slide ready,” Robinson said. He added that shifting soil has also impacted track operations on the slide.

The fix is a short-term solution. Last year, city council received a report that said the ground the central lift tower sits on is among the most unstable soil on the hill.

The city has approved placing a new lift on Howelsen as part of its capital projects list. City Manager Gary Suiter said the repair is expected to keep the lift operational for the next two winters, the same amount of time it’s anticipated to install a new lift in a different location.

Suiter said that there are “no guarantees” that the lift won’t shift again next spring.

Howelsen’s Ice Arena will also see some construction.

Council approved initial construction on a pavilion adjacent to the arena that will eventually hold a second sheet of ice. A steel shelter will be built next to the existent building by the end of the year. The pavilion will have a modular bathroom and locker room.

The Igloo and Zamboni shed were removed from the facility in June.

“It’s not our expectation that this is just a hockey-centric or winter-centric facility,” said Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey development director Kerry Shea. He said the facility will also be useful for lacrosse, soccer and baseball teams playing at Howelsen.

The project remains $602,000 underfunded, but council and supporters of the project believe that fundraising efforts can cover the remaining cost. Shea is coordinating fundraising for the facility and said that close to $2.5 million has been committed to the project so far between the city’s contribution from lodging tax revenue and private donations.

The current facility recently reopened after undergoing a thorough cleaning and annual maintenance, Robinson said. The front desk area was remodeled to accommodate an additional locker room. The existing ice sheet was drained and received a fresh coat of white paint beneath the playing surface before being refrozen.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter, @elHasenbeck.

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