Our View: Blazing a trail | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Blazing a trail

At issue

Sending a signal that lodging tax monies will benefit all trail users

Our view

The Steamboat Springs Trail Committee was wise to select trail projects that will benefit the entire community as well as our visitors for its first expenditures of newly rededicated lodging tax funds

In the early stages of a 2012-13 campaign to persuade the Steamboat Springs City Council and the public to commit future millions in lodging tax funds to building new trails with the potential to drive more resort visitation to Steamboat Springs, one of the ideas that gained considerable buy-in was the goal of extending the heavily used Yampa River Core Trail.

That plan proved too costly, but in fall 2014, the seven members of the committee sent a clear signal that they “get it” — in addition to driving tourism, new trail projects also must strike a balance by benefiting a cross section of trail users.

We think they’ve succeeded in finding that equilibrium with the news earlier this month that they will devote a portion of the first round of $300,000 in lodging tax revenues to several smaller projects. They include improving pedestrian crossings where the Yampa River Core Trail crosses Mount Werner Road near Rotary Park and linking the Knoll Parking Lot to the Gondola Transit Center. Improvements also will be made at the intersection of Amethyst and East Maple streets in the vicinity of Spring Creek Trail.

Committee member David High described the need to benefit a variety of trails users when he discussed with the Steamboat Today his motivation for becoming involved.  

“Every level of user has different needs, and it will be important to strike a balance at all levels and doing so in the most effective way possible,” High said.

The first two pedestrian crossings greatly will enhance safety for a wide range of trail users. In particular, we’ve seen parents struggling to shepherd young cyclists along the Yampa River Trail at Mount Werner Road through the busy intersection.

The improved crossing at Amethyst and East Maple is paired with a redesigned section of the Spring Creek Trail, which makes it considerably more convenient for visitors to access the popular trail from the nearby intersection and from downtown Steamboat. 

If there is a trail leaving from the edge of the city limits that rivals Blackmer Drive/Emerald Mountain for popularity, it is Spring Creek. In very little time after leaving the trailhead, hikers and cyclists find themselves in a beautiful aspen forest with a perennial stream nearby. 

The twin Spring Creek projects should succeed in meeting the overarching goals of the trails committee while keeping visitors close to the downtown shopping, dining and entertainment district.

We fully expect the committee to move on to planning for destination trails that will serve as motivators for athletic adults to vacation in Steamboat. But we’re pleased to acknowledge tangible evidence that the committee is aware that trails users, including second homeowners, perennial vacationers and full-time residents make up a diverse population. 

We congratulate the trails group for resolving what looked to be a difficult issue with an excellent solution and that other groups facing challenging choices might learn from the trails group’s process.

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