Opposition curbs sidewalk proposal | SteamboatToday.com

Opposition curbs sidewalk proposal

Old Town residents relieved about delay

Brandon Gee

Pine Street resident Larry Guss and his wife, Jackie Grimaldi, are opposed to sidewalks on their street because it could mean trees would have to be removed.

— Steamboat Springs officials are easing up on plans to construct uniform sidewalks throughout the city, to the relief of many Old Town residents who do not want to see the paths in their neighborhoods.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council heard a presentation about its existing sidewalk ordinance and master plan. Many residents at the meeting were those who became incited last year when the city began design work for the construction of 6-foot sidewalks on Pine and 12th streets.

That work was guided by the city’s master plan for sidewalks, which city officials say was developed based on a community consensus that more sidewalks are needed in Steamboat. The plan made many residential areas – including 12th and Pine streets – a top priority. But many residents who live in the areas are opposed to sidewalks for reasons including the potential loss of trees, a change in neighborhood character and the increased cost and liability that would accompany the construction of sidewalks adjacent to their property.

“We don’t see a need for it,” Larry Guss, who lives in the 300 block of Pine Street, said Wednesday. “There is very little foot traffic.”

The city’s sidewalk ordinance requires adjacent property owners to maintain, repair and replace the walks when needed and to accept any liability arising out of the maintenance.

“These things aren’t going to last forever,” Guss said.

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Maintenance includes snow removal. City Council President Loui Antonucci said he is sympathetic to residents’ concerns.

“I kind of agree with them,” Antonucci said. “If the community at large wants these things, we need to find a way to fund them.

“People were really afraid about what the costs are going to be,” Antonucci continued. “If you take Steamboat and look at what (the snow) was last year, people could barely keep up with their homes.”

Council took no action regarding the sidewalk presentation, which was held at a late hour near the end of a lengthy meeting. Antonucci said the subject deserved a more focused conversation.

“What we decided was we were probably going to want to have a work session,” Antonucci said.

In the meantime, Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the city is shelving the sidewalks prioritized in the master plan and focusing on school routes and commercial areas.

This year, the city focused on less contentious sidewalks. Constructed sidewalks included a new walk from the Steamboat Springs High School to the intersection of Third and Oak streets.

Any changes to the sidewalk ordinance, the master plan or the priority list will come at a future meeting of the City Council. The issue is not an urgent one – and, for now, arguably a moot one – because there is little to no money allocated for the construction of city sidewalks in the near future.

“We don’t have any budget for next year or probably the following year,” Shelton said. “We’re just going to proceed slowly.”