Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Steamboat Springs Extra seating was required in Centennial Hall on Monday night for "The Present and Future Impacts of Resort Development on the Yampa Valley," the third installment in the "Dynamics of Growth in Resort Communities" series presented by a collection of local organizations.
The discussion was led by Terry Minger, president and CEO of the Center for Resource Management, and Harry Frampton, managing partner of East West Partners. Steamboat Springs City Councilman Towny Anderson moderated the discussion.
Minger and Frampton practically created Vail - Minger as the resort's first city manager and Frampton as a private developer. The two have been or are involved in the development of other resorts such as Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb and Lake Tahoe. They were invited to speak candidly about their experiences in those places, discuss unintended consequences of resort growth and what they might have done differently.
The discussion fortuitously coincided with a New York Times article published that day that discussed one of Steamboat's most influential sources of growth, the migration of "location-neutral" businesspeople who choose to live in Steamboat while earning their income from elsewhere. Minger said the article proved the discussion was "timely and relevant."
In his opening comments, Minger addressed the angst some people have about growth. Minger said that worry is very common in communities experiencing change.
"All of these communities have a certain level of angst," Minger said. "You're not alone. And you may be in a better position to actually do something about it."
Frampton said that while he feels Vail is a "special place," he understands that a lot of people don't want Steamboat to be like it. Ignoring growth, however, is not the answer, Frampton said.
"Certainly, Steamboat is nothing like Vail and never should be," Frampton said. "But this growth is not going to go away."
Frampton said the biggest problem facing Vail is workforce housing. He said taking steps such as Steamboat's inclusionary zoning ordinance might be part of the solution to that problem. He also said the Yampa Valley will benefit from having more land available for development.
"It's a hard problem to solve now (in Vail) because there's almost no land left," Frampton said.
Minger said regional cooperation is key to controlling growth, rather than each government entity in the valley acting on its own, and both men cited the need for consistent rules for developers.
Minger said Steamboat's growth is part of larger movement sweeping Western resort communities. He said Steamboat has been "discovered" and that the task now is to strike a healthy balance between no growth and rampant growth.
"It appears that the perfect storm is coming to Steamboat," said Minger. "Why don't you create the perfect harbor for the perfect storm?"