Stettner leaves behind legacy of service

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If Arianthe Stettner needs a reminder of what was accomplished in her seven years on the Steamboat Springs City Council, all she has to do is look out her dining room window.

From her home along Anglers Drive, she has a clear view of Emerald Mountain and the land that was preserved there during her tenure.

If she needs a reminder of the struggles and regrets that come with being a council member, she has to look no further than her living room, where a painting of the formerly untouched Elkins Meadow hangs. Stettner was one of two council members who voted against the development that put 20 luxury homes on the 104 acres of open meadowland off Fish Creek Falls Road.

"To go down the alphabet a ways, serving on City Council has been awakening, beneficial, challenging, demanding, empowering, frustrating and grand. Not to mention hopeful, inspiring and joyous," Stettner told her former colleagues at Tuesday's council meeting.

Appointed once and elected twice, Stettner has been on the council since 1997. She decided not to run for a second term in the District 2 seat this year and was replaced by Councilman Ken Brenner on Nov. 4.

A staunch supporter of the environment and historic preservation, Stettner gave a voice to issues that had no way of speaking.

Stettner helped the recycling program in Steamboat and was active with Historic Routt County before joining the council.

She often questioned the use of asphalt in building projects and asked developers to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives.

She was on the council and the design committee that decided to save the Carver Power Plant and incorporate it into Centennial Hall.

Stettner was on the council when the 3,800-acre Legacy Ranch was preserved. She also was there when the Polumbus property at the confluence of Walton Creek and the Yampa River and the Combs property on Howelsen Hill were preserved. She was part of the council that accepted Gloria Gossard's gift of 120 acres on Emerald Mountain.

"I am so excited to be able to say when I ran for council years ago, it wasn't quite in place," Stettner said. "And, when I look out at Emerald Mountain now, it is preserved."

Stettner has served on council in good and bad times.

In the past two years, she has campaigned for a fire and ambulance tax, which was turned down twice by the voters. She believes the city needs to decrease its dependence on sales tax and restructure its taxing policy.

One reason Stettner sought a seat on the council was because of a thesis she wrote in 1991 to earn her master's degree in business. The thesis was "Considerations for Sustainable Economic Development in a Mountain Resort Community."

Looking back, Stettner said many of the ideas followed the IRS pattern for an evolution of a new idea. First the idea is ignored, then it is ridiculed and finally it becomes self-evident.

In her thesis, Stettner proposed plugging leaks in the local economy so money does not go elsewhere; encouraging locally owned and controlled businesses over those controlled by outside investors; and considering diverse businesses that will enhance a balanced, year-round economy, not just the tourist sector.

They are all ideas that were actively discussed during Stettner's tenure on the council.

In the corner of Stettner's house are shelves filled with binders of city budgets, planning documents and City Council agendas.

She doesn't know what will become of those piles of paper.

When departing Council President Kathy Connell gave a farewell speech to Stettner, she predicted that this would not be the last of Stettner in city hall.

"If there is any member that just will not go away and go on and on, giving herself and her time and her mind, it is Arianthe," Connell said.

She was right.

The day after Stettner's term ended, she sat in the audience waving her hand for comment as the City Council and county commissioners worked on the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update.

Stettner left today for a month-long visit to Africa. Upon her return she plans to remain active in historic preservation and will keep an eye on the area plan update.

"Service is the rent you pay for the privilege of being on this planet," Stettner said Tuesday in her farewell remarks.

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