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Infrastructure Improvement Proposal Causing Controversy In Steamboat Springs

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Steamboat Springs is proposing major improvements to its downtown, but many people, including the county and the school district, aren’t happy.

Some of the proposed improvements are major public safety issues and simple things like street lights and sidewalks. Some have never been built or installed, but as the city council debates the improvements, many people are upset about how it may be funded.

“URA is an urban renewal authority. Urban renewal authorities are used by 49 of 50 states to help with public investment in redevelopment,” Tyler Gibbs with the Steamboat Springs Planning Department said.

Steamboat is hoping the URA in downtown can fix some glaring issues.

“About half the block faces in downtown don’t have complete sidewalks … we’ve got drainage issues, we’ve got lighting issues.” Gibbs said.

So far the price tag is about $8 million.

“Currently the city of Steamboat Springs is looking for a way to take money away from different public entities to fund and pay for whatever they want.” Board of Education member Joey Andrew said.

The school district, county commission and library districts all oppose the tax funding for the URA because they say millions will be taken away from them.

“All of these different groups, including a group that does services for disabilities, are going to be impacted by this money being syphoned away from their funding just to build this revitalization,” Andrew said.

“We’re trying to spur investment, economic investment in our downtown,” Gibbs said. “Right now, with incomplete infrastructure, that adds a lot of cost and is a deterrent to that kind of investment.”

The town is looking at improvements for about 100 square blocks in the downtown core.

“We need sidewalks, we need different things to develop our community. However, at what cost? Andrew said.

“What we’re really talking about is we’re talking about is deficiencies in our infrastructure,” Gibbs said. “We don’t have a sidewalk at all in some places, that’s a problem for everybody.”

The city council debated Tuesday night but didn’t make the final decision. One councilor already said he’s against it.

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