Steamboat City Council to talk Emerald Park history, field usage on Tuesday

Scott Franz

— Triple Crown’s desire to play ball at Emerald Park is once again turning into a hot-button issue in Steamboat Springs.

The level of public comment and interest in the topic recently spurred Steamboat Springs City Council member Sonja Macys and leaders of the Yampa River Botanic Park to request a public hearing on Triple Crown’s potential usage of Emerald.

Macys said last week that some people are “up in arms” about what they’ve heard regarding ongoing contract negotiations between the city and the baseball and softball tournament.

“The rumor mill is that we’ve jumped straight to opening up the park,” Macys said. “I’m asking that we reel it back to the beginning and look at the big picture. Who are these people, and what do they bring?”

The council was hesitant to schedule a hearing specifically on Triple Crown’s contract negotiations and decided it should instead discuss the current and historical usage of the park and the nearby Yampa River Botanic Park at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Council members acknowledged Triple Crown’s desire to use the fields will inevitably come up.

“Obviously, there is a lot of public conversation about this. I am happy to have a conversation about the proper usage of Emerald fields,” council member Kenny Reisman said. “What I don’t want to do is get into the contract of Triple Crown. I don’t think it’s our place to negotiate contracts.”

He questioned whether the council would hold such a public hearing on a contract for a group using the city’s ice arena, for example.

Reisman said the council’s focus should instead be on developing and upholding the policies for all of the city’s parks.

Council members also suggested there is some confusion in the community about how the parks can be used.

Council Member Walter Magill pointed out that, while some community members say the fields at Emerald are reserved for local use, they currently host visitor soccer and lacrosse tournaments.

Council President Bart Kounovsky called Triple Crown a great economic driver and said the council needed to be “extremely sensitive” to the great 20-year partner that has changed its business practices to meet the needs of the community.

Part of the city’s reasoning for not allowing Triple Crown in to date has been a troublesome access to the park that runs through Pamela Lane.

The city is planning to fix that access as soon as next year with the installation of a new railroad crossing next to the Hampton Inn.

Even so, leaders of the Yampa River Botanic Park and some other community members continue to oppose Triple Crown playing at Emerald.

The Botanic Park’s leaders think new Triple Crown games could bring parking problems and loud noises next to a popular summer attraction that values silence and serenity.

In a recent letter to the council, the Botanic Park’s board of directors wrote that a public hearing was legally required prior to voting on the Triple Crown’s usage of Emerald because it could involve a lease of city land.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark wants to ask the city council to approve the Triple Crown contract prior to the city executing it.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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