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Steamboat’s downtown businesses offered a vote to increase services between Oak and Yampa Streets

Pedestrians walk along Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs Sunday afternoon. If funded, the downtown business improvement district might fund additional bike racks, more frequent litter pick up and sidewalk snow removal.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS– Steamboat’s downtown business improvement district will put the district to a vote to fund increased litter and infrastructure services downtown.

The district was formed in 2007, but remains unfunded after two unsuccessful ballot measures in 2007 and 2014. In Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the district presented the idea of making a third and likely final effort to fund the district in a ballot measure later this year.

“We’re all in kind of the mindset of three strikes and you’re out,” said City Manager Gary Suiter, as he introduced the idea. “If they don’t get it through this time, I think downtown services – they’ll continue to be the minimal services that we are providing now.”

The district would include two zones. The primary zone would include businesses on Lincoln and Yampa streets and the side streets that run between those streets. The primary zone could see sidewalk snow removal, litter pick up and sweeping and a more frequent schedule to empty the trashcans. The district could also add additional lighting and bike racks.

A secondary zone would, for the most part, include businesses on Oak Street and the side streets between Lincoln and Oak Streets. These businesses would not see the same services as the district would provide the downtown core, but it would fund additional marketing efforts, public art and wayfinding throughout the district, including the secondary zone.

The exact services the district would fund would be determined by its board of directors. The board has been operating for some time, though members have not formally been appointed by City Council. Current board members include people representing retail stores, realty groups and restaurants downtown.

Documents included in council’s agenda packet state that the district expects to raise about $300,000 in its first year of operation. This funding would come from a mill levy based on a property’s assessed value, special assessments on nonprofits and an annual contribution from the city. On a case-by-case basis, nonprofits could receive waivers or reductions of special assessments. The amount at which these downtown properties would be assessed has not been decided.

“We had a lot of complaints last summer about the amount of people in town and how much destruction it had on our downtown, and to me, I think this is a great solution to help with the overflowing trash cans and the littering and stuff that the city just can’t take on.” said council member Lisel Petis.­­

The district anticipates taking on a number of city services, including watering Rotary flower pots, removing trash and recycling and splitting the cost of holiday and festival lights downtown. These would not replace city services but supplement them, said Executive Director of Mainstreet Steamboat Lisa Popovich. For these services, the board is initially asking for a $47,000 contribution from the city. Suiter said he believes the city’s contribution is a “balanced equation” that gives members of the district a reason to vote for it.

Council President Jason Lacy requested city staff put together a cost estimate of those services.

“I think that what we would find is that we’re spending a lot more than what we would be paying here,” Lacy said.

Each business and nonprofit that owns a parcel located within the district would appoint a person who would vote whether or not to fund the district. The district would sunset in 10 years and could see renewal or expiration then.

A formal agreement regarding the district is expected to be brought to City Council at it’s Aug. 21 meeting, Suiter said.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter, @elHasenbeck.


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