Steamboat sets sights on core trail, transit, housing priorities
City officials talk plans with county staff during joint meeting
As Steamboat Springs and West Routt County continue to grow, Steamboat Springs City Council has outlined a list of goals on which the city would like to collaborate with the county.
Housing, developing a regional transit authority and extending the Yampa River Core Trail all topped the city’s list of priorities during a joint meeting between the city and county Tuesday, Jan. 4.
In response, Kristy Winser, Routt County planning director, told council the county is looking at the Core Trail as a practical mode of transportation now more than ever.
“For the longest time, I think we’ve looked at trails as recreational only,“ Winser said. ”I think we really need to start thinking abut the importance of trails as a transportation corridor, as well.“
Steamboat has had several conversations about extending the Core Trail west to Steamboat II and the future Brown Ranch development, but council member Heather Sloop said she wants to see the trail go much farther than that.
Sloop cited Park City, Utah, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as two mountain towns similar to Steamboat that have trails running through the town and stretching for miles out into the county. If those cities can do it, Sloop said Steamboat can, too.
“I would love to have that continuing conversation to look at the extension even all the way to Hayden,” Sloop said. “This is something we need to start looking at today and not something we just get to in the future.”
Sloop and council member Michael Buccino also wanted to continue conversations on a busing system connecting Steamboat to other parts of the county.
As living in the city continues to become more costly, the two council members felt other parts of the county would see more growth, and many of their residents would be commuting to Steamboat.
“I really think the (regional transit authority) is a game-changer for Routt County in the future,” Buccino said. “Regardless of whether it’s the rail or bus lines or whatever, transit is going to change this demographic and allow us to open up all of these areas.”
Buccino also expressed concern about South Routt seeing a population decline, while West Routt has experienced quite the opposite.
Winser said the reported decline may not be completely statistically accurate because only 60% of residents responded to the most recent U.S. census questionnaire. Still, Winser said some towns in South Routt have no interest in growing.
“When we asked Yampa about their priorities and growth patterns, they don’t want more housing, and they don’t want to grow,” Winser said. “They do want amenities, but they don’t really have an interest in growing.”
Winser said Stagecoach, which is currently an unincorporated community, does have interest and has seen immense growth over the past several years.
“Stagecoach has the infrastructure in place, and it has been identified as a potential growth area,” Winser said.
Buccino identified Stagecoach as an area for more affordable housing projects. Council member Dakotah McGinlay echoed his enthusiasm but added she would also like to focus on affordable housing within the city.
Council President Robin Crossan wanted to ensure that while the county welcomes growth, county commissioners and city council members also remember the area’s roots in agriculture.
“That helps us figure our who we are as a community, what our community character is and whether we want to continue that route with folks moving in that have different ideas than us,” Crossan said. “I think we need to go back to our roots and figure out how were going to support that as a community, and then everything else falls into place from there.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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