Our view: A creative approach to West Lincoln Park
Instead of spending $150,000 to rehabilitate the lightly used and unsafe playground structure known as the Yampa River Queen in West Lincoln Park, it is time to move forward to build an artistic park shelter in the midst of the mineral springs that set the community of Steamboat apart.
We add our support to the unanimous endorsement by the city’s parks and recreation commission of a plan to replace the more than 30-year-old Yampa River Queen with a combination of new interactive playground amenities and a shaded ranch shed-like structure that showcases Steamboat’s western heritage.
While we empathize with community members who feel a sentimental connection to the old Yampa River Queen, we don’t believe it has ever been a particularly popular playground structure.
More urgent is the fact that more than six months ago, officials of the city of Steamboat Springs identified the River Queen as being beyond repair and a safety hazard. Just as problematic is that that the dated playground structure was not built to be ADA compliant.
In May, city officials published a notice in this newspaper about a public meeting seeking public input on the future of West Lincoln Park. Just two people, one of them, Steamboat Springs Arts Council Executive Director Kim Keith, attended.
Keith, representing Steamboat’s newly recognized creative district, advocated for something new in the park that would create a sense of place by reflecting the region’s agricultural heritage with a shade structure resembling a hay shed, perhaps with large images of different locations in the valley. In addition, the new structure designed by Jeff Gerber is intended to engage park visitors, and especially children, with a musical park.
Keith describes those elements as fitting into the practice of “creative place-making,” which could also be described as creating an identity for our community that will take hold in the memories of those who visit the park.
The public meeting unveiling the design for the new structure in West Lincoln Park in October was also noticed in this newspaper but only drew light attendance. It wasn’t until November, following an article in our newspaper, that public outcry over the planned de-commissioning of the Yampa River Queen mushroomed.
We have followed, with the publication of numerous articles and opinion pieces, the challenging three-year process that ultimately led to the recognition of our community as being among those worthy of being recognized as a Colorado creative district. And we continue to value that initiative, and with it, the new approach to West Lincoln Park.
The Yampa River Queen, while a source of nostalgia, has run its course. Yet, we would be pleased if a photograph of the old playground structure could find a place in the new park facilities. After all, it has a place in our modern history.
More urgently, we are in support of building a new cultural landmark at the western entrance to our downtown cultural district — one that will take full advantage of the opportunities for creative place-making.
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