City presents Bear River Park conceptual plans

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— Officials with the city of Steamboat Springs and the National Park Service on Tuesday revealed two very different conceptual designs for the future of Bear River Park in west Steamboat.

Under option A, the park would be designed as a passive park, with nature trails along the Yampa River, new basketball courts, a picnic and barbecue area, a new multi-use field and an expanded skate park.

Option B is headlined by the inclusion of an indoor field house, with programming to be decided, and a spot at which trailers could back in and unload vessels into the Yampa River.

The basketball courts and many of the nature trails are not included under the second option.

Both conceptual designs were created with public input and the help of Oxbow Design Collaborative.

They will be discussed in more detail May 25 at a public work session.

Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet said the ultimate master plan could borrow from both conceptual designs.

“There could be a blend between option 1 and option 2,” he said. “There also could be an option 3.”

He said the 30 community members who attended the open house Tuesday where the concepts were revealed had productive discussions.

He added that going to a more active park could raise new considerations, such as the need for a second fire access to the park or acceleration and deceleration lanes leading to access points on U.S. Highway 40.

According to an online survey, potable water was the most popular amenity for the park, followed closely by a field house, trailer accessible river access and a picnic pavilion.

Both options include improved parking areas.

Asked how they wanted to see improvements at the park funded, most of the 208 survey respondents indicated grants were the best way to go, followed closely by the city budget.

A special tax was the least-popular option.

Survey respondents were also asked to write in their vision for the park, and the city received a range of responses.

“The park is located on the river and should be river focused,” one respondent wrote.

“A pavilion with a bbq area would be cool,” wrote another.

The city anticipates being able to invest in improvements at Bear River in 2017.

The city’s Parks and Community Services Department hopes to finalize a single master plan and formulate funding and implementation strategies this summer.

Due to the park’s location on the Yampa, space for new amenities is limited. A large portion of the park includes wetlands and lies within the floodplain.

“The acerage to develop it is eight acres,” Overstreet said. “I think this discussion went really, really well, because there are so many groups who want something to happen in our parks system, and this is really our only park left where something active and passive can happen.”

Scott Franz — Steamboat Pilot and Today, Tuesday, March 31st

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