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Subdivision proposed at ski lake

— Steamboat Springs excavating contractor Ed MacArthur is seeking annexation of a 90-acre parcel just outside the city’s southern boundary. He hopes to build an eight-lot subdivision on the south side of an existing private water ski lake.

MacArthur’s plans go further than that — his preliminary proposal includes expanding the ski lake to the north in order to give it a more natural shoreline and allow establishment of a city park.

The park, or a combination of a park and conservation land, could include an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail as well as public land along a stretch of the river.

A freestyle water ramp, where skiers and snowboarders to practice aerial maneuvers by launching into the lake, would remain on the south side of the lake and get a new parking lot.

“I’ve had many discussions with the city and I believe this is the best response,” to officials’ concerns, MacArthur said. “The good news is that where the houses would go, there are no wetlands and no floodplain issues. There will be no loss of wetlands at all. In fact, we’ll be creating a big gain in wetlands.”

City Planning Director Steve Stamey said the preliminary plan will undergo an initial technical review with various city department heads today. Stamey said he sees merit in MacArthur’s plan, but it raises some questions for which he is seeking answers.

“The end product looks like a good deal in terms of its gateway setting and the resources that are there,” Stamey said. “How we get there is the question.”

Stamey was referring to the fate of large piles of valuable gravel that have been sitting on the site since the lake was built more than five years ago.

Given that the gravel piles exist, Stamey said he wants to know more about what would happen to the gravel in the interim before the subdivision is developed. The city is interested in knowing how much time MacArthur would propose to take to reach the final disposal of the gravel. City planners also want to know whether his plans include processing the gravel on site. Expansion of the lake would create more gravel.

MacArthur said he has “ideas” about the future of the gravel. However, he said he’s not prepared to discuss the details publicly until he receives a sign from the city of Steamboat Springs that his concept for the subdivision and park are feasible.

The history of the MacArthur’s plans to develop the site go back to 1997, when he and a group of investors sought city annexation for a water ski subdivision. He was turned down on annexation for the purposes of the subdivision, but still built the private water ski lake.

The new plans are not the same as the former plans.

MacArthur owns Native Excavating. His only partner in a limited liability company formed to pursue the latest development plans is Elam Construction, an asphalt road paving contractor based in Grand Junction.

MacArthur’s vision for the expanded lake includes maintaining the privacy of the water ski lake. It would be roughly divided from the public expansion by an irregularly shaped island. A boundary between the subdivision and the city park would run through the lake and a portion of the island.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Libbie Miller has expressed her concerns in writing about the impacts the subdivision and related development could have on a pair of bald eagles that nest nearby in cottonwood trees overlooking the Yampa River. MacArthur said he wants to consult closely with the DOW and is willing to consider setting off the riverfront portion of the public parkland as a conservation area.

Existing plans for expansion of the core trail do not place it in close proximity to the riverbank.

Also included in the development proposal are a new boat ramp, a parking lot for the ski ramp, new access roads and new emergency access roads. MacArthur said he hopes more “wins” for the community will become apparent if he is able to take the next step in his proposal.

“I want to find out if this is an appropriate direction,” MacArthur said. “If so, we’ll get down to the details.”

Yampa Meadows has just begun the city planning process and no public hearings or votes by public bodies have been scheduled.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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