Steamboat’s Mountain Area Master Plan envisions updated Ski Time Square, parking structures
After spending nearly a year and a half receiving input from the community, stakeholders, officials and experts, the city’s planning department is seeking a bit more public input for the Mountain Area Master Plan before presenting it before Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The plan lays out numerous potential projects for the mountain base area, from small tweaks to ambitious redevelopments.
In the near future, the plan calls for building a designated turnaround loop at the end of Ski Time Square and reconstructing and modernizing the Gondola Transit Center.
In the long term, which the plan defines as 4-10 years, it outlines several potential “big moves” including a parking structure at the Meadows Parking Lot and upgrading the Wildhorse Gondola to high capacity to take people from the Meadows lot to the base area.
Other “big idea” projects include redeveloping the Knoll parking lots and realigning Ski Time Square Drive to meet Mount Werner Circle and Burgess Creek Road at a single intersection.
Staff drew up three priorities — improving economic vitality, enhancing access and wayfinding, and maintaining the town’s identity and culture as a small Western ski town — based on feedback collected during the initial phases of the plan.
One of the highest priorities of the master plan is to stimulate year-round traffic at the mountain base area, and one of the ways that could be done is by improving Ski Time Square Drive.
Brad Calvert, a principal planner for the city who worked on the master plan, described the Ski Time Square area as “no man’s land,” and said there are many potential projects to improve the area.
Currently in the design phase, work on a large turnaround loop at the end of Ski Time Square Drive could begin as early as next summer, which would provide relief to the countless number of people who mistakenly drive down the street searching for a parking spot but are forced to make an awkward U-turn.
“I think pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists are all sort of confused as to what happens when you get toward the end of that formal road,” Calvert said.
As a more long-term vision, the master plan envisions redeveloping along Ski Time Square Drive. In 2007, developers purchased properties along the street and demolished the existing buildings to make way for redevelopment projects, but a volatile market amid the 2008 financial crisis halted construction.
Calvert said there’s been significant momentum between the public and private sectors to meet the priorities laid out in the plan.
The reconstruction of the Gondola Transit Center requires a healthy partnership between the city and the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. as the transit center can be confusing and dangerous for pedestrians.
According to the plan, the Gondola Transit Center needs to be “reimagined and reconstructed to create a pedestrian priority zone, including clear pedestrian routes to the gondola and lifts.” There is no plan to expand the footprint of the transit center, but the project would involve changing the shuttle and bus pickup and drop-off areas into a figure-eight roundabout.
Construction on the transit center is planned to begin in summer 2023 and expected to finish near the end of summer 2024, but that schedule is tentative as the project is still in the design phase.
The city is asking the public to join the Mountain Area Master Plan discussion at EngageSteamboat.net/MAMP, where a full draft of the document is available along with discussion boards.
“Residents of Steamboat would riot over paid parking at the existing Meadows lot,” wrote Ryan Coe, a Steamboat resident, in the discussion fields.
While the plan will be presented to council earlier, public comments will be accepted through Sept. 9.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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