Hayden For Hayden, the Yampa River State Parks Headquarters west of town promises to be a real asset, community leaders say.
"Somebody, somewhere needs to be told 'thank you very much,' from Hayden," town attorney Mark Fischer said.
Despite financial troubles and construction delays that have plagued Colorado State Parks, many Hayden residents remain optimistic and excited about the Yampa River State Park Headquarters and campgrounds.
"Long after we've forgotten about the money and planning, Hayden will be using and appreciating the park," Chamber of Commerce President Karen Fox said.
And, it won't just be Hayden residents utilizing the park; visitors to the still-unfinished area are already boosting the town's economy.
"There are a lot of benefits to having the headquarters just outside of town," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "Our businesses are realizing greater sales, we're witnessing a more vibrant downtown area. We think having the State Parks headquarters is a great thing for this community."
Fischer said that when too much negative attention is focused on the few problems with the headquarters, it's the little guy the Hayden resident who loses out.
"This is one of the first times in the 25 years I've been associated with the community of Hayden, that state monies, other than impact grants, are being spent here, and which have a collateral benefit on the community," he said. "Granted, there were problems with construction, but look at the capital on construction projects in Steamboat. I know a lot of people who are going to be able to take advantage of these new resources."
When the headquarters project was first proposed in 1997, the Hayden Town Board and Lions Club were among the community groups that strongly supported it.
"The club believes this is one of the most positive projects proposed for the Hayden area in a long, long time," Lions Club President Ron Kashner wrote to the Routt County Planning Commission and county commissioners.
Mayor Chuck Grobe recently sent a letter to State Representative Jack Taylor, who initiated an audit of Colorado State Parks in response to the local project's budget problems. Grobe said the letter was an effort to "bring a sense of balance to recent discussions regarding the Colorado State Parks' campground."
"As you are well aware, Hayden struggles with a limited tax base," he wrote. "Many of of our residents shop in the nearby communities of Craig and Steamboat Springs. This creates retail tax dollar leakage and inhibits the Town from funding the necessary municipal services that are desired by our residents. The Town was therefore excited about the prospects of having the Colorado State Park's campground in close proximity to our community. Our hopes of bringing more tourists into the community are being realized! Many downtown proprietors have commented on the increase in customers to their businesses as a result of the new campground. Not only has the Town reaped the benefits of an increased sales tax base, we have witnessed a more vibrant and active downtown area which will greatly assist our efforts to recruit more businesses to our community."
The Town Board officially declared support of the project and requested that state officials and legislators do the same in January 1997. Trustees said there were few recreational facilities in the area, and that the headquarters would promote economic development; health, safety and welfare of local residents; and tourist recreational activities.
The city of Craig, the Hayden Station and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office also supported the project at its inception in 1997.
Park Manager Dennis Scheiwe iterated that the Hayden community has been extremely supportive of the project, from its infancy and until now.
"I, personally would like to thank the community for it's support. They've been so appreciative, and so wonderful about the whole Legacy Project," he said.
The park was schedule to open in mid-May, and did open then, although it was plagued by wastewater treatment and electrical problems.
Since then, electrical problems have been fixed, and repair of half the wastewater treatment system is near completion.
In addition, the project has ended up costing $2 million more than the initial estimate.
At a Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation performance audit in Denver last month, State Parks took the blame for both construction and budget problems, and accepted state legislators' recommendations to improve its accountability in future projects.
The park headquarters, two miles west of Hayden on U.S. 40, includes 35 camp sites with electrical hook-up and hot showers and flushing toilets in the bathhouse.