Steamboat City Council members vent about River Queen playground predicament
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Some Steamboat Springs City Council members have grown impatient and frustrated with the uncertainty surrounding the future of an iconic riverboat-themed playground that was the subject of a public outcry when the community learned it was going to be torn down.
The council’s frustration comes in the wake of news that nobody responded to the city’s call for bids to design a new shade structure that resembles the current Yampa River Queen play structure at West Lincoln Park.
Some council members indicated they’re tired of waiting and are ready to move on and revert back to plans for a more common type of playground, while others were hesitant to weigh in until notice had been given to the public.
“My personal feeling is we have gone above and beyond to hear the public and done what we could to ask for people to design a playground and a structure with the look that everyone who was so for the River Queen wanted, and we got a big fat donut hole response,” Councilwoman Heather Sloop said Tuesday.
Sloop suggested it was time to abandon the plans to build something that resembled the riverboat and instead focus on previous plans to replace it with a playground like the ones in other parts of the city.
“I’m done spending money on something we should have built a year ago,” she said.
Councilwoman Robin Crossan also expressed frustration with the situation.
“We gave direction and it’s gone in 15 different directions,” she said.
Councilwoman Sonja Macys urged the council to hold off on making any decisions until the public had time to weigh in.
She noted the public had so far been very engaged in the fate of the riverboat themed playground.
When the community learned last year the playground was going to be demolished or removed to make way for a shade structure that would resemble a horse or hay shed, community members formed a Save the Queen campaign.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition urging the city to save the structure in some form.
The city’s parks and recreation commission changed course and decided to incorporate a riverboat into the design of the new shade structure.
But when the city sought bids for the blueprints, nobody responded.
Concerned about delaying a new playground at the park for another year, some council members are now indicating they will wait no longer than their first meeting in May to pull the trigger on a new plan.
And City Manager Gary Suiter said he felt the political pushback the city got for proposing to remove the playground has left the city “high centered.”
He also said city staff shared the council’s frustrations with the process surrounding the replacement of the River Queen.
Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet said Tuesday the city has multiple options for how to move forward.
He said they ranged from saving just the paddlewheel and the smokestacks and putting a shelter in between them to keep some resemblance of a riverboat to consulting with a landscape architect.
The city’s parks and recreation commission is set to weigh in on how to move forward Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Citizens Hall.
Public comment will be accepted.
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