Tension grows between Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, City Council after bureaucratic delay derails Howelsen Hill ski jump repair
Steamboat Springs — The construction company that was preparing to do emergency repairs on the HS127 ski jump at Howelsen Hill has bailed on the project, leaving the city of Steamboat Springs scrambling to find a new contractor as winter weather approaches.
Construction crews were ready to start the $40,000 project last week, and the city even sent out a press release announcing the start of construction. But City Manager Gary Suiter postponed the work at the last minute on Friday afternoon because he had heard some City Council members had concerns.
Suiter felt he needed to get the council’s approval first.
The project also exceeded the city manager’s contingency budget.
The ensuing 48-hour delay to get the council’s approval led the contractor to abandon the project because it had to mobilize to another work site before winter weather approached.
Suiter did not say which council members had raised concerns about the repairs, which will involve working on the jump’s upper ramp surface, platform and decking, stairs, railings and some cross-bracing components.
The delay could lead to a costlier project for the city.
Steamboat Springs Springs Winter Sports Club Director Jim Boyne appeared frustrated with the City Council late Tuesday night as he lamented the delay in getting council’s approval.
He was also critical of the council members who apparently sought usage numbers on the jump prior to making the funding decision when the Sport’s Club’s contract with the city clearly spells out that the repairs needed to be made in a timely manner.
“It’s very frustrating when you’re on the ground working together, and it all gets halted,” Boyne told the council. “We had two great days (of weather), and Calcon Constructors now pulled out.”
Boyne praised Suiter and the responsiveness of city staff to line up the emergency repairs. But he appeared to fault council members for second-guessing the need for the repairs when time was of the essence.
“At this late date, certain City Council members are now questioning the utilization and other matters associated with the HS127 in-run,” Boyne wrote in a letter to the council. “While the club has been, and continues to be, willing to engage in broader dialogue regarding the future of Howelsen Hill Ski Area, we are not going to have that discussion or respond to questions about utilization on the eve of the beginning of our winter programming.”
Several council members defended themselves, saying they had only heard about the need for the repairs last week.
Ford questioned why the jump wasn’t evaluated for life-safety issues until November.
Boyne said the city has not done any meaningful maintenance or repairs on the ski jump since 1992, and the problem could have been resolved in years past with a better maintenance plan and schedule.
The council ultimately voted 6-1, with Heather Sloop opposed, to approve the funds for the repairs.
But the approval didn’t come before some heated conversations.
Councilman Tony Connell accused Boyne of trying to give the council “bad press” for the delay.
“We’re acting as fast as we can,” Connell said.
Boyne said the delay on Friday was unexpected.
“We all responded with a sense of urgency and thought we had victory here, and it was snatched from us Friday afternoon,” Boyne said. “Delays are delays, and if it costs more money, that’s unfortunate because I think people responded very quickly to do what they could.”
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