New working group will study alternative funding sources for parks and recreation in Steamboat |

New working group will study alternative funding sources for parks and recreation in Steamboat

— The new police station committee isn’t the only citizens group that is being formed in Steamboat Springs to help the city tackle a big project.

The Steamboat Springs City Council Tuesday night endorsed the creation of a new working group that will engage the community and look to see if there are better ways to fund the city’s parks and recreation amenities.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the group, saying the city is not adequately maintaining and growing its parks, trails and open space with its general fund.

“We know as a commission that capital funding challenges for parks and recreation continue to mount,” commissioner Doug Tumminello told the City Council. “Likewise, operations funding remains challenging, and nonetheless, new amenities are being added to parks and recreation on a regular basis.”

The commission wants the working group to explore alternative funding sources that range from a parks and recreation district to a dedicated tax to foundations.

After hearing a presentation on the funding challenges, the council expressed strong support for the working group.

Council members stressed all options should be on the table, and it would be up to them to decide whether to act on any of the group’s recommendations.

Some of the details, including who will serve on the working group, still need to be worked out.

The Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that the group have representation from the city, the community, Routt County and the commission.

During his presentation that was well received by the council, Tumminello said the city’s funding limitations have kept master plans for existing recreation amenities like the rodeo grounds and the Yampa River from being realized.

He also said that Parks and Recreation Department’s maintenance responsibilities are growing as new trails, pocket parks and landscaped highway medians are added in Steamboat.

“The issue is with a lack of a dedicated funding source for capital operations and maintenance,” Tumminello continued. “It’s difficult for us to forecast, to plan with any regularity and to provide the level of service we believe the community is looking for.”

Tumminello suggested that the city should take a regional approach as it looks for funding solutions.

“I think that one of the main hinderances we have in our parks and recreation is a lack of a real regional perspective,” he said. “The reality is that the public at large within the region view our facilities and our amenities as regional assets, and we know they are funded on a city basis and that creates issues. The level of funding just doesn’t reach the level of need by all the people who are living in this general area.”

The commission has spent the last eight months learning about alternative sources of funding.

So far, commissioners have mostly learned about recreation districts that typically levy a property tax for funding.

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

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