In response to the article last Friday that discussed the Planning Commission's rejection of the proposed waterslides in the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Associations pool renovations, I would like to offer the following observations:
Commissioner Lewis says that it is "too much Disneyland" at the entrance of downtown to approve the tower and waterslides. Currently there is a big pink sign with a rabbit on it across the street to "the entrance of downtown." Is the Rabbit Ears Hotel sign exemplifying any image of Western? Lewis states it would not be good for retail stores F.M. Lights and Allen's, stores that apparently exemplify Steamboat's ranching heritage according to the article.
How do you know that theses businesses would not welcome additional sales that they may receive by visitors who are discovering that there is hot spring and recreation pool facility, because of the visible tower and waterslide addition to the SSHRA, which also has led them to discover that Steamboat actually has a downtown with stores like F.M. Light and Allen's.
As for the comments of SSHRA losing its natural feel, there is always Strawberry Park Hot Springs up the road for those wishing to commune with nature while they soak sans waterslide, kiddy pool, lap pool and noise from Lincoln Avenue.
Walt Disney created an entire theme to recognize our country's history from which pioneering led to manifest destiny and the creation of what is perceived as "Western heritage."
He called it Frontierland and it was part of the original Disney theme park in Florida, Disneyworld. Frontierland was made to re-live the pioneer days of the American frontier. Walt said, "All of us have a cause to be proud of our country's history shaped by the pioneering spirit of our forefathers. ... our adventures are designed to give you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's pioneer days."
It seems Walt knew something about creating fun around our heritage and history. He certainly understood what it meant for a business to create its self as a destination that people would travel to for entertainment. This is a theme that the Steamboat Springs Mainstreet organization has promoted to help the downtown business community create themselves as destination businesses that visitors and locals will recognize and be drawn toward. Walt had to build his Splash Mountain.
Howelsen Hill added its slide attraction several years ago. It seems to be a successful destination, even though it really doesn't blend in with the natural vegetation on the hillside.
The waterslides are not about interpreting what is Western heritage, or how to preserve it. It wasn't a threat to Steamboat's Western heritage when the ice rink expanded. Steamboat is not in danger of losing its Western label because Strings in the Mountains is building a permanent structure. These examples demonstrate how Steamboat has grown to ensure amenities that are part of Steamboat's evolving heritage are perpetuated. Steamboat has a history of ranching. Geographically, Steamboat is in the West. These are not facts that will be lessened by waterslides at the "entrance to downtown."
It's not about a Western heritage; it's about supporting businesses and amenities that are part of Steamboat. The springs and hot pools that SSHRA manages have been in place for more than 100 years. SSHRA needs to evolve again, to adapt and grow as Steamboat does. With the multitude of developments that will change how downtown looks, this is literally a landmark opportunity for SSHRA to showcase what it has to offer.
The SSHRA board of directors appears to have its pioneering hats on in the spirit of mapping the future. Lewis and Curtis appear to have lost their way.