Steamboat approves Mountain Area Master Plan, but people say it’s missing skier drop-off
The Mountain Area Master Plan envisions numerous changes at the base of Steamboat Resort including plans for a modernized Gondola Transit Center.
The city planning department encouraged public input prior to City Council’s 6-1 vote to approve the plan on Tuesday, Nov. 1, and one of the lingering criticisms centers on a lack of designated skier drop-off and pickup areas.
A short-term goal of the Mountain Area Master Plan is to reconstruct the Gondola Transit Center, which would reshape the parking area at the resort’s entrance into a roundabout with pull-offs for bus drops along the side of the road closest to the mountain.
The shuttle drop-off area would be moved across Mount Werner Circle just a bit south of Ski Town Wine and Spirits.
“People are going to just pull into that roundabout and try to drop people off all the time, and I think it’s going to create a cluster,” Steamboat resident Caitlyn Mckenzie said during public comments. “This plan is the opportunity to find a solution.”
Other people shared Mckenzie’s concerns.
The city compiled the public comments submitted online and organized them into a spreadsheet.
“The only mention of private vehicle skier drop-off is that this activity would be shifted to the return/north side of the GTC area after going through a new roundabout,” one comment reads. “However, currently there is no space actually identified for where the drop-off area will be. I’m sure you don’t intend for them to stop in the middle of the road on the return side while skiers load/unload.”
Steamboat Springs Principal Planner Brad Calvert said the consulting team that helped work on the master plan couldn’t arrive at a solution for skier drop-off and pick-up — at least during the conceptual phase.
“They sort of had to move on,” Calvert said. “Otherwise, they would have spent a lot of time for a conceptual plan, when in reality there will be a very real design and engineering conversation around the gondola transit center.”
The area in front of One Steamboat Place was identified as an alternative drop-off area, but council member Heather Sloop said the space would be “inadequate.” She was the lone council vote in opposition to the plan.
Calvert said he expects skier drop-off and pick-up to be a priority during the design phase for the Gondola Transit Center reconstruction.
Calvert said changes were made to the public review draft of the master plan after receiving public comments, and those changes were included in the version presented to City Council. Though designated drop-off areas still aren’t identified, he explained that he and his staff have specifically acknowledged drop-off locations as a high priority. He also said he wants to see pedestrian paths that connect drop-off areas to the base of the mountain.
Steamboat Planning Director Rebecca Bessey explained that the Gondola Transit Center is partially owned by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and partially within the public right-of-way, so the city would have an equal seat at the table when designing the facility.
“To get down to the nitty gritty and the specifics is not going to be handled by this plan,” said Council Member Michael Buccino.
Buccino added that he sees the master plan as a “guiding document,” and he pointed out that many ideas in the Mountain Town Sub-Area Plan from 2005 — which the new plan will replace — were never implemented.
Shortly after Sloop voted to oppose adopting the plan, she explained her decision.
“It’s not that I don’t approve of the plan,” Sloop said. “But Michael, what you just said, a lot of the things in 2005 were never accomplished, so why are we having a plan that could potentially not have an accomplishment of pedestrian and vehicle drop-off use?”
The reconstruction of the Gonodola Transit Center is scheduled to be completed in the middle of 2024.
Public comment on the Mountain Area Master Plan closed on Sept. 9. The full 109-page plan can be viewed at EngageSteamboat.net/mamp.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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