Steamboat officials get update on Parks and Recreation projects, land acquisitions

Work began at the new Howelsen Hill Skatepark this summer with completion of the project expected by spring 2024. The new skatepark is one of 24 capital projects reviewed by the city's Parks & Recreation Commission last week.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Parks and Recreation Manager Matt Barnard provided an overview last week of 24 ongoing and future capital projects in Steamboat Springs.

Kicking off his presentation, Barnard said a preliminary design produced several years ago for a second sheet of ice at Howelsen Ice Arena would need to be updated at a cost of $425,000.

“As we started getting into it, a lot of things have changed at the ice arena; we added an extension to the lobby area and a second level, we have had some really cool improvements which really changed a big portion of that original project and what it was designed as,” Barnard said.

The total construction cost for the new ice sheet is estimated to be roughly $6.75 million. Barnard added that a fundraising agreement with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association means the design cost for the project will be split equally with the city.

“We are really excited for the project,” Barnard said. “We are just kind of waiting for our funding to get on point.”

Barnard called the grand opening of the $580,000 Brooklyn Park Playground in October a “smashing success” after the city transformed the area which “had really just been at the end of its useful life.”

“A park that just didn’t have a whole lot of connection or direction and we think we kind of achieved some of that with just a simple connection of the sidewalk, creating some spaces for bike parking,” Barnard said, adding that disability friendly access was another key improvement for the neighborhood park — where residents frequently sit to enjoy lunch — along with landscaping improvements and the installation of a water bottle filling station.

The budget for the new skatepark at Howelsen Hill is just under $500,000 with work expected to be completed next May after a four-to-five-week installation.

Parks and Recreation staff worked to collect community engagement input from a range of stakeholders, including elementary, middle school and high school students, and worked with the American Ramp Company to design the skatepark — a company Barnard said had “a really young presence.”

“Everybody that was on that team leading the design are skaters themselves, so they were able to speak the language,” he added. “When you get somebody like me in the room that is well past that interest in my life it is hard for me to facilitate what is ‘cool’ or what is even the technical jargon at that level.”

“I think it was a huge homerun,” Barnard said.

With a current budget of $435,000, Parks and Recreation is working on a Yampa River restoration project spanning the river area between Emerald Park to the Yampa River Botanic Park.

“If you have floated the river in this area or just kind of poked along the shoreline or even just walked along that Core Trail or soft surface there, you have noticed the amount of concrete rubble that was put in to armor that shoreline,” Barnard said. “There is inch and a half rebar that is poking out, so it is super dangerous.”

Barnard noted the Yampa River is a prized asset for the community, and said a considerable amount of shoreline stabilization material will be pulled out of the riverbanks and will be replaced with more natural reinforcement objects like large boulders and pieces of timber, along with stream improvements to provide fish habitat.

Closer to Botanic Park, a large eddy will also be removed with the creation of an energy dissipation channel and a stepped river access will be installed in the area for anglers’ access. The work is currently in the design phase with full plans expected to be completed early next year.

Barnard said a finalized alignment for the Emerald Mountain Downhill Trail was accepted last month for the $350,000 mountain biking trail project. The city hired Wheat Ridge-based FlowRide Concepts to perform the trail building work, and partnered with Routt County Riders to complete alignment and design.

“It’s going to be something really special on Emerald (Mountain) so we are really excited about it,” Barnard said, adding that the trail construction will begin in May with a goal of completing the project by the end of August.

The city is using $500,000 in seed money to advance the purchase of the 51.59-acre Koftinow property with plans to turn it into public open space. Barnard noted the asking price is higher than $500,000, but the city is hoping to obtain grant funding and work with partners to complete the purchase of the land, which is divided into four quadrants intersected by Mt. Werner Road and the Union Pacific railroad.

“The interest that we have had for such a long time in this property is the amount of shoreline and wetlands that are associated with this for the Yampa River,” Barnard said. “This will be a great place for us to control more of that vital Yampa River corridor.”

The second open space and park land acquisition eyed by the city is the 187-acre Slate Creek parcel. Earlier this year, City Council members began discussing the potential purchase of the land as a way to provide regional park space in the area of the planned Brown Ranch affordable housing development on the city’s westside.

Barnard noted that between 90 and 125 acres of the land would be designated as open space, and the property would create prime opportunities for hiking and biking trails for the western section of the city where recreational opportunities are currently limited. He added that regional park facilities could be constructed on the northern section of the parcel.

With $500,000 in seed money, Barnard said the city hopes to obtain grant funding to complete the $5.25 million land deal.

“I think Brown Ranch really made this (a possibility,)” Barnard said. “The owners were hearing the talk that was a sticking point for a long time with the regional park and really needing something on the west end of town so they actually came to one of the (City) Council members and the council member came to (Parks and Recreation Director) Angela Cosby and I and just started a conversation of how this might work.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.