My wife and I have been coming to Steamboat Springs since the 1960s and have owned a second home here since 1984. I would like to offer a user's perspective on the Steamboat Springs Airport.
There is always a public cost in offering amenities that create a viable community. The ice rink, tennis courts, ball fields, landscaped street medians, libraries, airports and numerous other facilities and services are not necessary for any community to exist, offer no direct return, and yet are what make a town function as a desirable place to live.
The Steamboat Springs Airport offers access to many persons who work, live or have a second home in the community. My aircraft have been necessary for the operation of my business and have enabled me to have access to Steamboat Springs. Most of the people using the Steamboat Springs Airport have an investment in the community. My wife and I have had a home here for more than 20 years and have paid property and sales taxes in Steamboat throughout that period while using none of the schools and very few of the other public services we have helped fund.
Hayden often is cited as an alternative, yet, as did the railroad depots of the past, community airports serve the communities in which they exist, a primary difference is that the communities make this decision, not the railroads. Many Steamboat taxpayers would not have been here had Hayden been the only available field. As with the rail system, those communities that had the station prospered while those five miles away, without it, withered. It would be alarmist to imply that would happen in Steamboat without the airport, but it certainly would not be positive to turn an asset serving many in the community into a plot of land serving a few.
While the airlines and the passengers visiting Steamboat through Hayden have, to my knowledge, always been subsidized, I know of none of us who regularly uses the Steamboat airport who has ever received anything from the city, chamber of commerce, or the ski resort for visiting Steamboat. On the contrary, most of us have paid taxes, created business, brought guests and visitors besides their families, and contributed a continuous flow of funds at retail prices into Steamboat Springs-not just a five day visit with discounted lift tickets and rooming packages.
The commercial terminal at the Steamboat airport was looked upon as a debacle from the beginning by most of us using the field.
It was a dying airline and an outmoded airliner that was being subsidized, not the privately owned aircraft that constituted the majority of traffic at the airport.
The expenditures for the runway, ramp and terminal expansions at Hayden serve the airline service to that airport and are not needed by any of us using the Steamboat Springs Airport. They should not be used as a reason for the Steamboat Springs Airport's demise or existence.
By the time dust settles on this issue, the airport will be of no consequence to me personally. I am sure that my family's profile fits many of those who use the Steamboat Airport and hope that you will consider the above factors in making a decision that could destroy a tremendous asset that yields both direct and indirect benefits for the community.
William F. Dugan