Parks and Recreation recommends allowing adult sports at Steamboat park |

Parks and Recreation recommends allowing adult sports at Steamboat park

Quinn Bleichman from Louisville uses a few of the skills she has learned at the Steamboat Soccer Academy this week to elude a couple of defenders during a game at Emerald Park. The park, previously only allowed for youth scheduled use, will be allowed to host adult sports under a trial period.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the city pursue a trial period to allow adult sports at Emerald Park last week, though several fields would remain limited to youth use.

The recommendation says the city should use “selective scheduling” for adult use, allowing some of the park to be reserved by those over 18, but keeping some of the fields — two baseball diamonds and Dudley Field — limited to youth.

The commission also recommended that the city pursue land acquisition in the area to increase parking at Emerald Park, which was described as a problem that would only get worse with the addition of adult sports at the park during public comment.

Another facet of the recommendation was for the city to pursue use of Steamboat Springs School District fields for scheduled use. Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said that talks are in the works, but there isn’t currently any agreement for such use.

“I also have a hard time seeing that my adult neighbors have (a) nefarious presence and shouldn’t be able to use the fields,” said commissioner Kelly Bastone. “It’s their park, even if they’re over 18.”

The park has long been restricted to youth scheduled use. Adults can go to the park and use the facilities, but they cannot reserve fields under current standards. Part of the request to extend use to include adults is that organized field space is limited across the city and will get even shorter next summer when Ski Town Park is closed for maintenance on storm water infrastructure.

But residents nearby and members of the Yampa River Botanic Park board said Emerald is already heavily used, the parking isn’t adequate and allowing more use would limit opportunities for pick-up games among the community.

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Kathy Connell, president of the botanic park board, said 11 members voted to oppose adding adult use at Emerald Park largely because of limited parking.

“An ordinance change before fixing an already overused parking lot is putting the (cart before the horse),” Connell said. “If anything is tried it should be on a trial basis only so we get more data.”

Jim Engelken, who lives on nearby Pamela Lane, said he felt the youth use restriction has worked well and that the commission shouldn’t try to say yes to every request they get.

“The pressures of overpopulation are going to prevent you from doing everything you want to do,” Engelken said. “Our population is growing and it’s going to continue to grow. We need more places that are open, available. Walking your dog, having a picnic, playing a pickup game, these are important amenities.”

But Fields Brown with the Steamboat Soccer Club said allowing adult use would open up opportunities for more members of the community.

“I think it’s important that we provide these areas for everyone,” Brown said. “I think it’s only a win for the community and allows us to be able to provide a lot more for all those who live here.”

Commissioner Sam Rush initially made a motion to not recommend any changes to city council, but that failed to get a second. Rush said she felt they should push off extending adult use to Emerald for a year when field space will be compressed by the temporary closure of Ski Town Park.

Commission Chair Calder Young then made an extended motion to allow adult use on a one-year trial period, a tactic the commission has used several times before to test the waters before making final decisions. That motion passed 4-1, with Rush opposed. That sends the recommendation to city council, who could opt to change the ordinance, which requires two votes. The earliest a change could be made would be by June, Cosby said.

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