Steamboat Springs City Council orders property owner to produce maintenance plan for historic barn
August 24, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Historic preservationists are calling on the Steamboat Springs City Council to hold a property owner's feet to the fire to help save a historic barn that is being neglected near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
"Taking no action is not acceptable," Sally Testrake, co-chair of the city's historic preservation commission, told the city's elected officials Tuesday night. "Time is not on our side with this barn. One more heavy snow year, and or a large windstorm, would take this structure down. It would be a terrible loss to our community and a loss of an important part of our history."
The council agreed that the 71-year-old barn, known as the Arnold barn, should not be allowed to wither away on private property near the Meadows Parking lot.
Many community members also refer to the structure as the Butterfly barn.
Council members said the city should take aggressive steps to make the property owner come up with a plan to maintain the iconic structure.
When developers of the Wildhorse Meadows project received approval from the city in 2006, one of the original conditions of approval was for the barn to be maintained in place.
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But no work has been done to preserve the barn since.
Council members resolved to have their attorney send a letter to the current property owners — who the city believes are still legally liable to maintain the barn — and order them to provide an assessment of the structure's condition.
City Attorney Dan Foote told the council that, despite foreclosures that have complicated who is legally responsible for maintaining the structure, he believes the maintenance obligation is shared by a Louisville-based company called Real Capital Solutions and the development company RP Steamboat Springs.
Foote said a representative from RP Steamboat Springs is arguing the barn's maintenance should be taken care of by Real Capital Solutions, which owns the land on which the barn sits.
"I think the maintenance obligation exists, and it applies to both property owners," Foote told the council. "It will be up to them to fight it out as to how that obligation would be provided."
Councilwoman Robin Crossan said the council has received several ideas from the community about how to save the barn.
She suggested the calls to save the structure should be directed toward the property owner.
"I think it's an iconic structure that needs to be saved, but right now, we're not the people they should be directing their comments to," Crossan said.
The city's previous attempts to contact the property owners about the state of the barn have gone unanswered.
Steamboat Today has also been unable to contact Real Capital Solutions about the barn situation.
Historic preservationist Arianthe Stettner recently researched the history of the Arnold family barn.
After scouring old newspaper archives and property records, she determined the Arnold family constructed the barn in 1945 to store hay and livestock.
The barn later became a storage shed for Steamboat Ski Area and was used as a western backdrop for photo shoots promoting the resort.
Stettner told the council the barn is one of five in the city limits that are more than 50 years old.
Stettner said the community would "love to help participate in a solution."
"Unfortunately, the Arnold barn, the Butterfly Barn, is probably the most visible of all,” Stettner said, “and we have a property owner who is ignoring it, and we have a city that talks about authentic Western heritage, and I think there is an ability to have a conversation with these property owners that have a resource and an asset of the community …"