Having grown up and worked in community development and natural resource stewardship in small towns across the West (originally a Wyoming native), I am deeply familiar with the culture and social and economic development dynamics of small Western communities.
One of the dynamics that I have watched, with great despair, is the abandonment of downtown by core social service and economic anchors. This always leads to the gradual dispersion and disintegration of the core town area and with it, the heart and character of the town.
If Steamboat follows this trend by relocating its county infrastructure, it will lose a great deal -- further aggravation of the frequent tensions between town and county; substantial loss to local-based downtown business; and the more intangible but no less significant disassociation of public and private services that are the hallmark of a healthy, well-integrated community.
I strongly urge our community to support efforts to create a viable alternative to the plans for relocating the county building to West Steamboat.
There is no question that our public employees need more and more efficiently organized space and judicial facilities. However, I also know that creative alternatives can be found if we all recognize what will be lost if this institution abandons our town center.