STARS project will bring top-level facility to Steamboat |

STARS project will bring top-level facility to Steamboat

Equipment operator Paul Girtz of Native Excavating uses a road grader to spread dirt along the road leading to where the STARS Ranch will be built. The $5.6 million facility will provide lodging for STARS camp guests, accommodate the organization's equine therapy programs and potentially offer a handful of new summer programs, such as archery and a ropes course. STARS administrative offices will also be moved to the new site.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Monday, an operator driving a road grader was busy spreading fill dirt across a newly refurbished dirt road leading from U.S. Highway 40 to the new location of the STARS Ranch located southeast of Steamboat Springs.

Supporters were happy to see work get underway this week but they also understand there is still some  heavy lifting remaining for the project to reach its full potential. And that will include finding more private donors to keep the builders on course.

“We are excited to finally break ground,” said Julie Taulman, executive director for STARS, which stands for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports. “This has been a long time to get to where we are today.”

STARS completed the permitting process, and in addition to the construction of the road leading to the pasture where the ranch lodge will be located, crews are also working on some of the underground work that needs to be done before the building can start to take shape. Taulman said fundraising efforts to raise the money needed to complete the project is still in full swing.

“We basically have funded phase one, which is the purchase of the property and the underground work that is being done right now,” Taulman said. “That was about $1.5 million, and we have fully funded that without needing to take any loans whatsoever.”

The project is expected to be completed in three phases, and most of the work this fall is in preparation for what will happen in the spring.

Taulman said that work is also part of phase 1 and will include the completion of the road along with construction of a fully functioning lodge with client rooms, full kitchen, equipment storage, office space and gathering areas. STARS raised about $4.2 million dollars of the $5.6 million needed to finish that part of the project.

“The building piece of this project will be the next piece, and we are about 75 percent to where we need to be fully on that building,” she said.

Taulman said the project is being phased to take advantage of Steamboat’s short construction season and also to allow parts of the project to be up and running for STARS clients as soon as possible.

Once the first phase of the project is completed, two additional phases are planned. Phase two will encompass construction of a fire pit, yurts, park shelter, maintenance garage and ropes course, and the final phase will include building a riding arena, hay storage and pasture shelters.

Once all three phases are complete, STARS will fully optimize the property’s use while allowing for new programming opportunities for clients. The phases were designed so that STARS can begin offering additional programs and camps with the completion of each of the three phases.

“The other two phases — finalizing the ropes course and the riding arena — can come in future phases and it’s not necessarily going to impact our programing,” Taulman said. “The reason that we bought this property was to have that lodge building there and to be able to facilitate our clients and to be able to utilize programing throughout or valley and on our property.”

She said the STARS Ranch project is being supported by the community through generous private donors. She pointed out that no local, state, or federal tax dollars are going to the STARS Ranch project.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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