Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Steamboat Springs The Strawberry Parks Hot Springs will ask the Routt County Regional Planning Commission tonight to change the park's official weekday hours to give residents and tourists more time to soak.
Hours of operation Sunday through Thursday are 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., but owner Don Johnson is asking that those hours be changed to 10 a.m. to midnight.
Johnson said that he doesn't let anyone into the park after 10:30 p.m., but also that he hasn't been shutting down at 10:30 p.m., which Routt County Planner John Eastman said is not in compliance with the park's amended permit.
"They've been out of compliance with that amendment," Eastman said.
Eastman said that Johnson's options were to have a review of the business's use or to request a change in the park's official hours.
The amended hours were put in place during a 2000 review of a planned unit development from 1988.
Johnson said that when the hot springs operated under a special use permit between 1983 and 1988, the park was open 24 hours a day.
One of the Planning Commission's concerns about the park's hours of operations is the safety of the road to the hot springs.
Routt County Road 36 is steep and narrow and can be dangerous, especially in winter conditions, according to the Planning Commission report.
Another concern about extending park hours is the late-night traffic generated by residents and tourists coming and going from the hot springs.
"The neighborhood has always been concerned with the traffic in general, but in particular the late-night traffic and (traffic) on weeknights," Eastman said.
The change in official hours of operation would represent an increase of 7.5 hours a week, or an 8 percent expansion of hours.
Now, shuttle service to the park does not have any time limitations, according to Planning Commission reports.
"I'm not really asking for any other hours of operation," Johnson said Wednesday. "I'm just asking for my people to be able to stay until midnight.
"I'm not a developer. I'm just a guy that runs a small business trying to function," he said.
There have been no complaints with operations of the hot springs, Eastman said.
Eastman also said that he expects tonight's meeting to attract a lot of people who live in Strawberry Park.
"I expect a lot of folks," he said. "That road is always a difficult issue."