Steamboat Springs Candidates for the Nov. 6 City Council election have given different responses to forum questions about the 700 LLC West of Steamboat proposal. One candidate is very skeptical; another hints strongly that he is in favor; one says flat-out that he is in favor. Others use timeworn platitudes such as "growth is manageable." Since moving here 46 years ago, when this was truly a small town, I have seen nothing but lip-service paid to growth control.
How we vote for the candidates and how they vote on impending West of Steamboat annexation will determine the livability of our community and Valley for the future.
We all know that most of the current city and county elected officials are tightly wired to their West of Steamboat Area Plan. They see it as an answer for affordable housing - which many of us see as a social engineering treadmill.
Then, there is the fixation of elected officials everywhere to promote economic growth and 'prosperity' - more jobs, tax revenue, etc., for their constituents and communities.
We have reached and exceeded an economically sustainable level. If not another person or business moved here we would do just fine, in spite of the Chamber Resort Association and its motto - "Grow or Die."
Enough is never enough for them.
A city staff person, speaking of plans for sewage system expansion, said the anticipated population of our town is estimated at 48,000 by the year 2018 - less than 11 years away! That is more than 5 times the current guesstimate of the town's population. Heaven help us if that is accurate. Just imagine the traffic/parking congestion, water rationing, crime and welfare rates, complete loss of our 'small town flavor' etc., etc. Will that be good for the tourist industry? Promoting growth is like shooting ourselves in the feet.
I have been pushing for a public vote on the 700 LLC speculation. Not one word of response from our elected officials. I have hinted to the Community Alliance that there is enough of us members to get 1,900-plus signatures on a petition to force a ballot initiative. No positive response there either.
We do need a plebiscite on this issue. It sets the mold for our future. Do we want more rampant growth spoiling the livability of our valley; or do we cave in to materialistic instincts? I have a queasy feeling that it could be the latter. But at least a vote would be a measure of what the majority of the people, not just the elected officials, wants and plans for.
On the fallibility of plans - a Scottish poet wrote in 1785 that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray. This West of Steamboat Plan is now something over 10 years old. It is obsolete, considering the growth that has happened since and the traffic and other problems that are a direct result of that growth.
Borrowing a slogan from Nancy Reagan: "Just say no" to the 700 LLC speculation.
Omar M. Campbell