Our view: Don’t let go of the vision | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Don’t let go of the vision

At issue

Finding a new funding path to realizing downtown potential

Our view

The downtown URA is in the past, but the need to reinvest in public facilities is still ahead of us

We commend Steamboat Springs City Council for making a final decision June 16 on the fate of a downtown URA, and especially for the lack of hesitation in council’s resolve to push ahead and pursue other funding options for carrying out much-needed improvements to fundamental public infrastructure in the downtown commercial district.

Council President Bart Kounovsky said Tuesday he is ready to “make motions” and “make appropriations” to build the projects that will improve the experience for people visiting the growing restaurant and commercial district along Yampa Street. We’re looking forward to the follow through.

We recognized in this space June 14 that it was time for the community and local governments to move on one way or another, and that is a sincere conviction. The city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and the Steamboat Springs School District have collaborated well in the past, and it’s in the public interest they continue that pattern.

In that vein, we respect the views of people who are philosophically and sincerely opposed to the tax incremental financing the URA would have depended upon.

We are on record as having supported the URA — but more important than the funding mechanism is that we not lose sight of the important improvements we seek to make in downtown Steamboat. What matters now is identifying the appropriate funding mechanism to allow us to move forward.

It’s no small coincidence that even as the city of Steamboat Springs turns away from the URA, it is going ahead this summer with plans to build an almost $1 million traffic roundabout in Central Park Drive, at the busiest entrance to Central Park Plaza, which houses City Market and Walmart.

The public infrastructure at Central Park Plaza is much newer and more up to date than much of what exists on Yampa Street, but the volume of traffic coming and going from Central Park has rendered some of the access intersections obsolete.

Through the new roundabout, the city is wisely moving on a project that will make it easier for consumers to access one of the community’s prime sales tax generators. It’s what cities do.

And the principle is the same in downtown; we cannot afford not to make public improvements, like broad sidewalks and small parks, needed to fully leverage opportunities along the Yampa River, which is an unmatched natural attraction close to  Howelsen Hill and the rodeo arena, as well as the shopping and dining on Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.

We anticipate that later this year, after the Workman house is moved to a new home in Oak Creek, the pocket park developed there on the river will offer just a taste of what is possible on Yampa Street.

Let’s find a way to move forward on this project together.

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