Time crunch for rec center | SteamboatToday.com

Time crunch for rec center

Ballot issue could wait until 2007

— Time is running very short to put issues such as a recreation center proposal before local voters in November, city officials said Tuesday.

The Steamboat Springs City Council discussed five possible ballot issues at its meeting Tuesday night. The council voted against placing a lodging tax to fund new city bus routes on the ballot this year, citing a need to have conversations with the lodging community and flesh out the tax proposal.

“I can’t imagine we’ll be able to have those conversations in a productive manner over the next two weeks,” council member Towny Anderson said.

Council members allowed work to continue on ballot proposals for a city-owned recreation center, creation of a tax district to fund improvements at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, bonds to install solar power systems in three city facilities, and a pay increase for City Council members.

Supporters of all those proposals face a busy few weeks. Ballot issues for the Nov. 7 election have to be certified in mid-September. The City Council must approve the issues, including all final language and provisions, at its meetings in August. The time crunch is the primary reason that council President Pro-Tem Susan Dellinger voted against putting a recreation center on this year’s ballot, she said.

“I see more questions than I do answers — I don’t want to rush something this large,” Dellinger said of the proposal to fund construction of a multi-use, city-owned recreation center. The center’s location, site plan and total cost have not been finalized.

Dellinger cast the only “no” vote on the issue.

In supporting continued work on a recreation center proposal, council member Towny Anderson praised the work of a community group that met earlier this month to assess the feasibility of asking voters about a recreation center this year.

“I’m interested in that energy,” Anderson said. “I think we’re sending the wrong message if we just put the clamps on them.”

Shannon Lukens, a member of the community group, said the door on a ballot issue this year has not yet shut.

“We’ll do everything we can to meet the deadlines, if you say it’s OK,” Lukens told the council.

Dellinger said “everything we can” means meeting as soon as possible, then returning to the council with a specific proposal.

“We’ll obviously be contacting you very shortly,” Dellinger said to Lukens and other members of the group. “Like in the hallway.”

In other news, the City Council:

Approved the first reading of an ordinance to extend the city’s contract with Triple Crown Sports, Inc., for one year, through the summer of 2008. The current contract expires in October 2007. Council President Ken Brenner said that before the council hears a second reading of the ordinance — which could result in final approval — at its meeting Aug. 8, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association staff must further develop information about an alternative tourism plan, an economic study of Triple Crown’s local impact, and the status of a possible new sports complex to accommodate Triple Crown in the future, should the contract continue.

Discussed Wildhorse Meadows, a multi-use development including commercial space, 567 residential units and a gondola to the ski base on a 47-acre site south of the Steamboat Boulevard and Mount Werner Road intersection. RP Steamboat, LLC, is leading the project. Council members questioned RP partners Whitney Ward and Brent Pearson about numerous building variances, such as increased building height and decreased setbacks, requested for the development. “This is a result of what we think is good planning,” Ward said. “We don’t want to create something that’s not marketable, but we still want to fill density.”

The next City Council meeting is July 25.

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