Linda Carlton: A message for City Council

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My name is Linda and I was a coward. I had written an opinion that I was prepared to read at the May 23 City Council meeting. Looking around the meeting I realized I knew several people in the audience and became aware that I might offend them.

During public comment, a citizen was offering his view, which was in opposition to most of the attending audience. The lack of courtesy that was extended to this citizen was all I needed to fold my paper and tuck it away. I wasn't brave enough to offer my opinions. I believe time reserved for public comment should be an opportunity for individuals to offer their opinions in a safe, professional setting.

To help me regain respect for myself, I offer my statement to the community, which I did not have the courage to present that night:

I encourage City Council not to build a community center at the Stock Bridge Transit Center at this time.

I believe past City Council members acted irresponsibly when they promised a "new center" to senior citizens before the old one was torn down. I'm wondering what the definition of a "new center" is -- a brand new building or just a new location for a community center.

With so many venues being presented to our community -- the expansion of health and recreation, a new recreation center, a community center, a library, and the possibility of a new or remodeled elementary school -- is it not possible to rent space for a community center until all options can be discussed, considered or rejected by the entire community? Are we projecting far enough into the future, or are we just considering what some citizens want now?

The community needs to establish partnerships with all special interest groups and join resources to come up with the best solutions not for ourselves, but for generations to come.

Council must continue working to locate a site for the community center, but at this time I see no need for a permanent location. In this exciting time of growth and change, I urge council to take a bold stand and do what is best for this community and not individual groups, no matter how vocal they may be. If a new building is voted on, what will be the cost, how will it be financed, is there a need to subsidize it and what is the actual plan for the building itself?

I am not against a community center. I will be a senior citizen in several years. If and when I use the facility, I would like to walk instead of driving or being bused to a center that, by its very location, encourages added traffic on an already congested highway, along with consumption of more gasoline. Even though the center will be located on a bike path, I don't think most users will bike or walk to the center.

The commentary in Viewpoints in Wednesday's Steamboat Today reported that the "community center decision was a mistake." I have to wonder if those people had come to the meeting and voiced their opinions along with several others, would it have made a difference in council's decision? Four council members expressed concern for staying within the $1.5 million budget and wondered how the project would be financed. Does anyone else see the absurdity of this fiscal irresponsibility? Even with the monetary concerns, council voted to proceed with planning at the site. I thank Towny Anderson for his dissenting vote, dissenting not because he was against the site, but against building a $3 million center on a projected $1 million budget.

Our City Council members are elected or appointed officials chosen for their leadership skills. Now is the time to demonstrate those qualities and find the best solution for our current dilemmas. Do not let time constraints limit your abilities to think outside of the box. Please make the right choice for all residents of Steamboat Springs.

Linda Carlton

Steamboat Springs

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