Two couples from out of town were walking out of the Gondola parking lot during the Brew fest Sept. 22. They were young, maybe late '20s, and were laughing and enjoying the warm weather in the Yampa Valley.
As they approached Apres Ski Way, one of the women in the group said quite loudly, while pointing down valley, "Could you imagine living in a place with a view like this?"
The group stopped to look, not minding the condos that surrounded them, and everyone took a moment to take it in. These are the type of people who move here to live.
The view and the surrounding environment are usually the catalysts and many of the new permanent residents not second homeowners are young people. I would dare to say the majority of them are between 20 and 30 years old and don't own property. They are looking for a change, a life with more substance than a city can offer.
From my experience in covering public meetings for two years, the 20- to 30- age group is the most underrepresented portion of the community, though it makes up a huge portion of Steamboat Springs and Routt County. They also can be the most uninformed about local issues. However, they potentially are the most vulnerable to rising property values and a downfall in the tourist economy.
They are the restaurant workers, lift operators, hourly city workers, fresh college graduates in offices and they make up a large percentage of construction laborers in the county. Many don't plan to stay here long and fit the definition of a transient resident.
But many more want to stay, want good jobs, want to buy a home and want to be the future leaders in the community.
Many people in the county are thinking about growth and with three recent forums organized by the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley to explore implementing growth controls, as well as introducing new ideas in the community, the topic may be hotter now than ever before.
A key issue where controlling growth will come up more than once in discussions is the City of Steamboat Springs' update of its community plan. Public meetings for that will be held Nov. 9 to 10.
When growth discussions start, let's remember a vital element of a strong community is the number of young people who live in it, who make up the future of the area. Along with thinking about controlling the number of people who come here in the future, it's important not to completely drive those away who want to try to make it here. Some of the most dynamic individuals and leaders in our community today are people who came to Routt County in their '20s.
Though they may not choose to represent themselves at public meetings, that doesn't mean the young adults are not important to the future of Routt County.