Ken Brenner is president of the Steamboat Springs City Council. Brenner sat down for a chat Friday on steamboatpilot.com Below is a transcript of that chat.
Q: Steamboat's greatest assets are the natural resources of beautiful land and active mountain lifestyle. What support/votes from council do you need to promote and preserve that?
Brenner: I think City Council agrees with you. We are continuing past efforts like the Yampa River Legacy project to purchase open space parcels in and surrounding the city and enhance key recreation facilities. Our focus is the Yampa River corridor, Howelsen Hill and Emerald Mountain. I would like City Council to consider a ballot proposal for the 2007 election that would purchase or preserve other key properties around our urban growth boundary.
Q: Why is the City Council wasting taxpayer money and citizen time and effort on the "Committee to study airport alternatives?"
Brenner: The city must update its Airport Master Plan because the airport no longer functions as a part 139 commercial airport. The new master plan will detail the improvements necessary for the build-out of a general aviation facility. That will likely include some substantial capital improvements. City Council would like to also examine all possible uses of the more than 500 acres. Once completed, the studies will inform the community and council with factual comparisons of the alternatives, and decisions regarding the airport can be made on an objective basis.
Q: In August, you talked to the Board of Directors for Main Street Steamboat Springs about developing a URA proposal for downtown. But at a recent City Council meeting, you were one of at least four council members who did not support moving forward with a downtown URA. What changed your mind?
Brenner: The August meeting was a chance to clarify some questions about possible funding sources for capital projects for the Downtown area. I agreed with council that a more detailed vision for downtown, details about the financial impacts on the city and other taxing entities and a convincing argument for a finding of blight would have helped us give support for moving ahead. The city is currently investing millions into the under-grounding of downtown utilities. I look forward to developing our partnership with Main Street for prioritizing other large projects and identifying appropriate funding sources.
Q: City voters will be asked Nov. 7 whether to approve a pay increase for council members. Why is such an increase appropriate and necessary?
Brenner: The pace and scope of City Council's commitment to our community continue to grow. I easily spend 40 hours a week, often more. We spend hours learning about issues, interacting with staff, meeting with the public and reading. A little more money will help average working people in Steamboat Springs afford the privilege of public service.
Q: How concerned should we be about the diversion of water from the Yampa River?
Brenner: Very concerned if you value the Yampa River as our primary asset. This week's meeting with our Yampa River basin representatives left me stunned. Recent state meetings have hinted that some diversion might happen. I am now convinced that growth on the eastern slope of Colorado, some of the fastest in America, is fully engaged in an effort to take large amounts of the Yampa River. This should be a wakeup call to every citizen and elected official in the Yampa Valley that unites us against the big money and irresponsible growth in eastern Colorado. Has the fox been watching the henhouse?