At 'the top of the pile'

City manager excited about Steamboat position

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— Sometimes the little changes are the hardest to get used to.

"One moment," Alan Lanning asked of a visitor to his City Hall office Thursday. "I have this new keyboard -- it takes me a while to write a message."

Lanning, Steamboat Springs' new city manager, has been on the job since July 3. He is the former city manager of Brookings, S.D. Lanning said that in addition to adjusting to a keyboard split into two sections, he also is trying to get used to new co-workers, new city procedures and a job that he has called "the top of the pile" for his profession.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind to start," Lanning said. "But I'm excited -- the quality of this staff is superb."

The whirlwind likely will continue. The city of Steamboat Springs has a lot on its plate, including the proposed Riverwalk development in Old Town, a redevelopment plan for the base of Steamboat Ski Area, a new community center, ongoing affordable housing issues and an annual budget due in December.

As city manager, it will be Lanning's job to manage and implement the plans the Steam-

boat Springs City Council sets in motion.

"My job, by charter, is the orderly administration of the city," said Lanning, an active 48-year-old who enjoys lifting weights and playing golf -- or at least trying to play golf.

"I'm not very good at it, but I love golf nonetheless," he said.

Lanning was Brookings' city manager for two years and town manager of Minturn, near Vail, for six years. Brookings has more than 18,500 residents and is home to South Dakota State University, the state's largest university. For $96,000 a year, Lanning managed a staff of nearly 120 and a budget of $19 million.

In Minturn, Lanning said, he came to a town "on the brink of disaster" and oversaw the construction of a new town center, fire station and public works facility in addition to a restoration project on the Eagle River.

He is no stranger to the Steamboat area. Nearly a decade ago, Lanning worked for two years in Craig as an administrative assistant and planning director for the Moffat County Board of Commissioners.

"I think the real difference (in Northwest Colorado) from eight or 10 years ago is the pace," he said. "The pace is faster, and that's a real surprise to me."

Lanning came to town at a busy time. Along with his wife and four children, he moved into the family's Silver Spur home on June 26 -- a week before the Fourth of July rush.

As a golfer managing a resort city, Lanning will soon find -- if he doesn't already know -- that heavy tourism is par for the course.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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