Steamboat Springs Almost 80 city councilwomen and councilmen showed up Monday night to solve Steamboat Springs challenges, and came up with some fresh ideas.
"You all got to be city councilmen tonight," Ken Brenner, a real city councilman told the gathering. "You got a chance to solve the problems. I really appreciate your involvement."
The occasion was the third and final neighborhood meeting hosted by Steamboat Springs City Council. City Council District II produced the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd of the three town meetings. Brenner, who attended all three meetings, observed that Monday's attendance surpassed the combined attendance of the previous two meetings.
The crowd heard Karen Van Scoyk, representing the group charged with focusing on growth, say that it may be a myth that families with household incomes of $50,000 to $60,000 cannot afford to buy homes in Steamboat. Some people in her group, Van Scoyk reported, felt that part of the problem in Steamboat is peoples' expectations. People want to own two expensive cars, skis and all the other toys that go with the Steamboat lifestyle, while trying to save up for a down payment on a home, the group suggested.
Belle Chotvacs urged City Council to take some of the money it spends on purchasing park land and invest it in land zoned for a new mobile home park. Only this mobile home park would differ from most, because the city would sell the trailer lots to the owners, so they wouldn't have to pay exorbitant lot rents.
"The city should acquire land for a subdivision, not for a park," Chotvacs said. "There are a lot of working people in this community who will never ever be able to afford a home. You should acquire land to be designated a mobile home subdivision where the people own their land. It's not going to cost the city anything in the long run, and you'll be creating housing."
Steve Elkins took a different approach.
"No matter what we do, people are going to continue to come here," Elkins said. "Even if you shut down the ski area, they're going to continue to come. We need to prepare for it the best way we can."
Elkins urged the city to identify areas for high density development, where affordable housing can be clustered.
The evening was not without its humorous moments. Participating in the group devoted to gauging community satisfaction, Noreen Moore pined for the good old days.
"In the old days," Moore said, "we all used to be poor together." But on a more serious note, she said that today, Steamboat and Routt County are experiencing a widening gap in peoples' relative personal wealth.
Local attorney Bob Weiss reminded Moore that in the good old days, say about 1971, most of the roads in town were unpaved and residents inhaled dust all summer. If you wanted to purchase fresh tomatoes, you had to get to the store on Saturday, because the rest of the week, all that was available was canned tomatoes.