Plan to salvage Yampa River Queen emerges |

Plan to salvage Yampa River Queen emerges

Parks supervisor Ernie Jenkins said the Yampa River Queen was built sometime in the 1980s at West Lincoln Park.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Fans of the Yampa River Queen are planning to pitch an idea next week to salvage the iconic playground and renovate it as a new shade structure and picnic area at its current location instead of replacing it with something different.

“There’s still some question as to whether the original structure can be repaired and updated, or whether it needs to be torn down” and replaced with a new River Queen, Save the Yampa River Queen campaign co-founder Meghan McNamara said Thursday.

McNamara said a working group the campaign had formed found an engineer who was scheduled to inspect the structure Friday to help guide the plan.

The working group also counts the original designer of the River Queen as one of its members.

“Kerry Kaster would love it if there was a flagpole on the new River Queen with a giant American flag,” McNamara said.

Other ideas for the new or updated vessel include lights to illuminate it at night and prevent vandalism, as well as adding nylon tarps around the boat to add more afternoon shade.

Meghan and her sister, Kaitlyn, said the Steamboat Springs Arts Council also has expressed a willingness to collaborate on the project and help come up with a final design.

Steamboat’s parks and recreation commission is set to weigh in on the future of the River Queen on Wednesday in Citizens Hall.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

“We really hope they like our idea of a facelift,” Katilyn McNamara said.

City officials have told the parks and recreation commission the structure is beyond repair, lacks accessibility for people with disabilities and needs to be replaced.

So earlier this month, the commission voted unanimously to endorse a $150,000 plan to get rid of the River Queen and replace it with a shade structure that resembles a hay or horse shed along with interactive musical instruments for children and possibly some boulders and other active playground elements for children to play on.

That’s when the backlash started and the Save the Yampa River Queen campaign picked up steam.

After receiving dozens of emails and a petition signed by more than 1,000 people in favor of saving the Queen, the commission agreed to hold a new hearing on the playground Wednesday.

Commissioners will be asked whether they want to stand by their original motion and plan to replace the Queen with an artistic shade structure, or chart a new course.

Asked what it was like to spark a community movement in favor of saving the Queen, the McNamaras said they didn’t expect to find themselves leading the effort.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Katie McNamara said. “I feel overwhelmed by the support in this community. We just opened our big mouths and said ‘heck no.’

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