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  • Dylan Anderson

Steamboat School District considering development on land currently used as part of Whistler Park

School Board has a “Housing Partnership and Development Discussion” planned for its Aug. 12 meeting.

The Steamboat Springs School District is considering developing land it owns that is currently utilized as part of Whistler Park, with plans being considered in the “very preliminary” stages, according to the district.

The Board of Education has discussed housing needs for teachers and other staff numerous times over the last year and was awarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to study the district's housing needs and potential opportunities. 

“During this process, we have collaborated with the City of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club,” said Laura Milius, the district’s director of communications, in an email.

Milius said the School Board will get an update on this work at a meeting on Aug. 12 entitled “Housing Partnership and Development Discussion.”

The parcel in question was once considered for a new school in 2019, but the district ended up building Sleeping Giant School instead. It has long functioned as a large portion of Whistler Park through an agreement between the district and city allowing recreational uses, though the agreement has a termination clause.

The board has discussed developing this parcel for housing in the past, and such talk resurfaced last week at Steamboat Springs City Council when Routt County Commissioner Sonja Macys spoke during public comment to express her “deep concerns with the future of Whistler Park.”

“A lot of people think that it is one whole city park and all of you know of course it is not,” Macys said, noting that she was speaking for herself and not her fellow commissioners. “I’m concerned that I have heard through the grapevine that there might be some discussions with the school district about developing that park for housing, and I would like to request respectfully that if those discussions are happening, and if council has signed off on those discussions, please make that known to the public.”

Other residents of the area — attending the meeting to give public comment about a potential bridge being built on Stone Lane — seconded Macys’ concern about development at the park. Council did not discuss the park after public comment.

At the Steamboat Springs Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Council member Amy Dickson said the park is a huge benefit in a neighborhood that is already lacking in parks space.

“When you look at the neighborhood over by Whistler Park area, we have a lot of condos and townhomes. A lot of folks don’t have yards,” Dickson said. “I would like to see it kept as open space for sure. Again, I am all about affordable housing, so it's that balance.”

The school board got a brief update on a potential land swap with the city back in May that could see land the district owned at Whistler swapped for land the city owns at Memorial Park near Steamboat Springs High School.

“With our housing and everything there, we need to be very cautious about this land swap because we’re probably having ideas of what to really use that land for,” District Superintendent Celine Wicks said at the May meeting, referring to the 9.2-acre Whistler parcel. “I just wanted to make sure that was out, open and in the public.”

The district has discussed developing on other parcels it owns in the past, with one of those being near the district’s office on Eighth Street in Old Town Steamboat and the other near Sleeping Giant School.

Council member Bryan Swintek said he feels the Whistler area is a special part of Steamboat Springs and is as unique as areas like Old Town. He worried how the loss of the park would impact the area he noted is already underserved by parks.

“There’s not a lot of other places like it. … It’s just special,” Swintek said. When asked if the city should try to maintain the parkland he said, “I’d like to.”

Top Photo Caption: The six-sided parcel labeled 172604001 on this map is owned by the Steamboat Springs School District. The parcel currently functions as a large portion of Whistler Park. (Routt County Assessor/Courtesy)


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