Steamboat Parks and Recreation commission open to allowing adult leagues at Emerald Park |

Steamboat Parks and Recreation commission open to allowing adult leagues at Emerald Park

Since opening in 1996, the park has only allowed youth sports groups to reserve the fields

Steamboat Springs’ Jennifer Adler makes a pass at Emerald Park during the Steamboat Soccer Academy in 2017. The park has historically been off limits for adult sports leagues, but Steamboat’s Parks and Recreation Commission is considering opening it up.
John F. Russell

Since it opened in 1996, Steamboat Springs’ Emerald Park hasn’t allowed organized adult sports leagues to use the fields. Rather, those fields were limited to youth groups.

Last week, the city’s Parks and Recreation commissioners indicated they may recommend City Council change that policy to open the park up for adult leagues. Adults are allowed to use the park, but adult sports leagues cannot reserve the fields there.

“It’s a park and I would like to let it be a park, regardless of the age of the participants,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kelly Bastone. “I would be in favor of allowing other members of the community who are adults to play there.”

Emerald Park is the city’s only park that has a restriction on adult leagues. As the city is fielding more requests for uses that other parks cannot accommodate, Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said allowing adult leagues at Emerald Park would be more equitable across the system.

The Parks and Recreation commissioners didn’t make a motion to council on Feb. 8, but they directed city staff to come back to the commissioners’ April meeting with more information about how to change the ordinance to allow adult leagues.

While commissioners expressed support for opening the park up to adult leagues, they also felt it was important to ensure there is time where Emerald isn’t being fully utilized by organized sports leagues, something residents in the nearby Trafalgar neighborhood said was important during public comments.

“There should be a place where locals, and tourists for that matter, should be able to go for a pickup game,” said Jim Engelken, who lives on nearby Pamela Lane. “Please, do not overschedule this park.”

Commissioners suggested ideas like mandating that only half of the fields be utilized by adults at one time while keeping some open. Other ideas suggested the fields could only be reserved on certain nights of the week or that the field schedules could be posted so community members would know when there is availability.

Part of the reason that this potential change is coming up now is because field use will likely see additional stresses as the city and Mount Werner Water District have projects to upgrade irrigation systems at multiple parks. Cosby said this work started last summer when the water district made waterline improvements at Ski Town Park and the park’s fields had to be closed.

“As the city continues to prioritize water conservation, all of our irrigation systems will be slowly upgraded,” Cosby said. “The impacts to all of our parks and fields will continue, and the compounding problem of not having enough sports fields to accommodate requests will continue to grow.”

Commissioners directed staff to bring the ordinance back on April 12 with possible motions that would recommend an ordinance to City Council that would allow adult leagues at Emerald on a trial period. Commissioners also requested more information about how much use Emerald Park currently gets and how many adult sports groups are being turned away under the current policy.

“I think if we can find something that works, then that could be great,” said Calder Young, commission chair.

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