Residents, parks and rec commissioners are leery of large sports wall in Whistler Park
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation commissioner Frank Dolman was blunt last week when he explained why he thought a proposed sports wall might not fit in Whistler Park.
“My concern is the wall is just too damn big,” Dolman said about the proposed 20-foot-tall structure that athletes could use to have their lacrosse, tennis and soccer balls bounced back to them during practice.
Dolman’s concerns were echoed by several nearby residents who attended a commission meeting on Wednesday.
Concerns residents raised about the wall included the possibility of vandalism, sight obstruction, risks related to falls from the wall, inadequate parking at the park, wildlife impacts and potential interference with other park activities.
To illustrate the wall’s large size, a community member who lives near the park even brought a 20-foot-long pole into Citizens Hall to show the commissioners how tall it would be.
He then walked 60 feet out from the dais to show how long the wall would span.
Another resident superimposed a rendering of the wall into pictures of the park to illustrate the structure’s visual impact.
“There are a lot of concerns related to this project,” Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Alan Koermer said.
Commissioners did not appear ready to endorse the project in its current form.
Without taking any action, the commission ultimately urged the proponents of the wall to continue making outreach to area residents about the proposal with the intention of working toward some sort of compromise or alternative proposal.
Dolman suggested a portable structure could be used instead.
He also noted there are many types of personal bounce-back structures that can be purchased online at a nominal cost.
The wall proposal would have to go in front of the city’s planning commission before it could advance.
Andy Flax, of Steamboat Youth Lacrosse, said the impact of the wall could be mitigated. He said the wall is a much needed amenity that would benefit youth sport training in the area.
There are four possible locations for the wall to be built in the park.
Currently, a much smaller wall is being used at Steamboat Springs High School.
The wall would be funded and maintained by Steamboat Lacrosse, LLC.
The height of the wall would allow players to use both sides of it with less fear that they would get hit by balls that go over it.
Opposition to the sports wall follows similar opposition to amenities and changes in other local parks in Steamboat.
Residents near Emerald Park recently opposed a proposal to let more Triple Crown baseball games onto the nearby ballfields because of traffic issues.
Neighbors near the undeveloped Rita Valentine Park have also opposed proposed amenities that range from a disc golf course to a climbing wall.
When discussing the wall at Whistler, parks and recreation commissioners suggested a dedicated sports complex in the city would help alleviate neighborhood concerns.
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After several Steamboat Springs Transit drivers caught COVID-19 recently, the operation had to adjust its routes around New Year’s celebrations and The MusicFest at Steamboat, two of the city’s busiest weeks of the year.