Yampa River Queen could be reduced to smokestacks, paddlewheel | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River Queen could be reduced to smokestacks, paddlewheel

Parks supervisor Ernie Jenkins said the Yampa River Queen was built sometime in the 1980s at West Lincoln Park.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The iconic steel smokestacks and paddlewheel of the Yampa River Queen playground feature in Steamboat Springs’ West Lincoln Park will remain at least through the summer, but the wooden playground equipment connected to it could disappear by the middle of June.

Steamboat Springs City Council decided Tuesday to wait to learn if the most significant steel components of the River Queen could be blended into a new public art/informational structure in the park before taking them down.

The River Queen was a hot topic in the community in late 2017, but when City Manager Gary Suiter called for public comment Tuesday, no one came forward.

It is the wooden parts of the playground structure, not the steel smokestacks and paddlewheel, that are in disrepair and could raise the city’s insurance rating with the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, according to city staff.

“Has anyone talked about taking the playground off and leaving the paddlewheel and smokestacks?” councilmember Kathi Meyer said. “If we can save a barn, move a barn, can we put a fence around it and leave the paddlewheel and the smokestacks?”

City Director of General Services Alan Lind said that was definitely feasible. However, in a written recommendation to City Council, he advised that with Memorial Day approaching and the summer resort season not far behind, the ideal window for the city departments to  do the work late this spring was closing.

Council member Robin Crossan expressed some reluctance over the possibility that removing the wooden portions of the River Queen and leaving the steel for a future project could result in paying twice to ultimately remove the entire structure.

“I wouldn’t like to spend more money to take the paddlewheel away next year,” she said.

Council member Lisel Petis agreed.

“If we have to pay more than $2,000 to take (the wooden portions) down, you have to tell us and come back to us,” Petis said.

Councilmember Heather Sloop was less concerned.

“Even if the Arts Council does something with it, it’s likely to be in a different footprint,” Sloop said. “I’m good with keeping it up.

“If we’re really going to take down the playground structure, is there any possibility of it going away next week?” Sloop said. “If we could take down the playground area before June, we know there’s no safety issue.”

“Parks and Recreation gets very busy after Memorial Day,” Lind said. “That window was pretty small. If you had said ‘Yes, go forward’ last week, we’d have done it, but we’ve kind of lost that window now.”

Council met in a work session Tuesday, and no motions were made, but direction was given to Lind to do his best to make it happen.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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