River advocacy group eyed Iron Horse property as new public park
Steamboat Springs — One of the Iron Horse Inn proposals being passed over by the Steamboat Springs City Council would have repurposed the property into a public park in the Yampa River with a new tubing launch point and parking.
“Anytime we have a piece of property that borders the bike path and the river, it’s inspiring to us,” Friends of the Yampa board member Kent Vertrees said. “We had a great opportunity there.”
The park proposal, one of eight for the Iron Horse property, was submitted by the river advocacy group.
It earned letters of support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Yampa Valley Land Trust.
Vertrees said the proposal called for phasing out the workforce housing on the site over a period of five years.
When the workforce housing currently on the property was realized somewhere else, he said, the buildings would have been demolished, and efforts to turn the property into a riverside park would have begun.
Grants and fundraising efforts would have funded the construction of the park.
“More than anything, it’s just such a prime location,” Vertrees said. “It would offer parking downtown, as well as access to the river.
“We knew this proposal was out of the box. It was kind of a longshot proposal due to the fact that it wouldn’t be the big money transaction that we know the community may be asking for. But opportunities like this don’t exist all the time.”
Proponents of the park plan also thought it could improve recreation on the river by encouraging more tubers to put in the river at the Iron Horse, thereby alleviating tubing traffic upstream, where angling is popular.
The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday will consider selling the Iron Horse for $3.05 million to a pair of buyers who want to renovate the property and maintain it as workforce housing.
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