Steamboat Springs nears deal on Emerald Mountain

The Associated PressAspen, CO Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Steamboat Springs officials say they hope to have an agreement by Monday to acquire some 580 acres on Emerald Mountain for a Nordic skiing center and public retreat.The Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper reports that city officials expect to finish the nonbinding deal Monday to acquire the property in time to apply for a $600,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant.The property owner, Lyman Orton, says he envisions a public facility for youth groups and a Nordic touring center on the land.Orton is seeking more than $2 million for the parcel he wants to sell to the city.The land previously was placed under a conservation easement held by the Yampa Valley Land Trust that does not ensure public access.City Councilman Jon Quinn said he originally thought that the purchase of the Orton property would simply bring hiking and biking trails on the property into the public realm.However, in the last week, he said he learned that the proposed deal entails terms that might call for the city and Orton to share the cost of building a public facility for youth groups and a Nordic touring center on the land.”It’s more complicated than we initially knew,” Quinn said.Quinn said Orton might be willing to return some proceeds of the land sale back into the cost of building a public facility.City Councilwoman Meg Bentley said she favors the purchase even though money is tight for the city.”We have to increase our market share in different groups of people all over the world,” she said.”We have our (elite) Nordic athletes out there waving the flag and in terms of turning Steamboat into a Nordic destination, and having a family Nordic center up there that could be used by youth groups in the summer, I think it would help businesses and the community. I can’t see a thing wrong with it.”