Steve Hitchcock: Efficient approach

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We are so fortunate. Our community, through various entities, has the ability to consider, simultaneously, a new school, additions and improvements to other schools, significant improvements to Health and Rec, a new county justice center, a new city recreation center, a new public library and a new community center.

As a taxpayer, I am willing to pay for my share of these valuable community amenities and improvements. I voted for them. But, I want to be sure that our leaders are spending the money effectively.

Part of spending money effectively is looking for ways to gain more use for the dollar spent. Laying aside, for the moment, the fact that the funding mechanisms are different for nearly all of them, shouldn't we be considering where there are opportunities to collaborate and combine? Is there a way to achieve these goals with fewer projects?

After the "Books for the Bayou" project, three Steamboat residents who worked on organizing the project flew to Houma, LA to present a check for the cash portion of our gift to the library system there. I was one of those people. Our work had been to assist with the rebuilding of the library locations in the outlying parts of the region that were devastated by hurricane Rita.

The principle location for the library system there is a fine building in the center of Houma which was not damaged by the storms. At this location in Houma I saw something that got my attention in light of the ongoing discussion of libraries and community centers at home in Steamboat Springs. The public library there is a public building of many uses. There are sections of it available to the public for meetings and other community uses. There are diverse groups from the community using the facilities every day.

An opportunity for improving our plans in Steamboat Springs, saving money and enhancing the community, is for the library district and the city to get together and figure out how to combine the new library and the new community center. The current site of both is the right place to start; Walking distance from the center of town, Accessible by public transportation. Well used by different groups.

Combine these two projects by adding the space needed for a community center to the proposed library building. Have the city contribute the added building cost to the project and an ongoing operational expense allowance. Program expenses from other entities can continue to support the effort as they do today in the current location.

Save a million here and a million there and pretty soon you are talking some real money.

Steve Hitchcock

Steamboat Springs

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