Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs As everyone is busy this weekend decamping for their annual pilgrimage to warmer climes, I thought I'd sneak a private letter to City Council freshman Jon Quinn while no one's looking. This is eyes-only to Jon Quinn. Everyone else, turn the page to last night's Avs recap.
I'm deeply disappointed you and other members of the Harwigs Happy Hour Haven haven't invited me to your Tuesday night soirees. Is that the thanks I get for defending you against Brent Boyer and his Merry Band of Sunshine Law Enforcers?
This is no mere faux pas. If you'd welcomed me to your circle of non-connivers, we could have quietly compared notes about the old days in Washington, D.C., without anybody overhearing. No worries. Because of this letter is just between the two of us, no one will be reminded of your D.C. past.
I'm sure you don't want to recall - given how your campaign contributions from east of the Potomac caused a bit of a stink during the election - that some in the 'Boat don't cotton to folks from back east. And they rightly have a jaundiced view of the build-it-bigger-and-taller mentality that some easterners import to our cozy valley.
But voters last November believed you cleansed of your outsider sins, declared you reborn and granted you a seat on the council. That speaks volumes for your political instincts and, so far, I've heard good reviews of your short tenure.
So, since you haven't stumbled yet, I want to be gentle in posing a simple question.
Have you lost your mind?
Have you lost your mind in supporting the St. Cloud Resort & Spa?
Have you lost your mind in supporting the St. Cloud Resort & Spa's request to replace Clock Tower Square with a humongous four-acre, 781,000-square-foot monstrosity that, at 126 feet tall, makes a mockery of the 63-foot height restriction currently in place?
Jon, don't feel I'm picking on you. I know other misguided souls on the council have lost their faculties as well concerning the St. Cloud. But you should know better. See, this is where your Washington, D.C., past comes in handy for a change.
I'm sure you'd agree there are many aspects of D.C. we're both happy to leave behind. Crime, traffic, Bill Clinton, the worst public school system in the nation, Bill Clinton - the list goes on and on.
Did I mention Bill Clinton?
But, given your D.C. heritage, recall one of the great things about our nation's capital.
The low skyline.
The low skyline - mandated by law - preserving panoramic views of the city's historic landmarks and monuments such as the Capitol Dome, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
The low skyline - mandated by law - keeping most buildings in D.C. lower than the proposed St. Cloud.
Jon, perhaps a quick refresher is in order.
In Washington, D.C., in order to preserve the low skyline and views, no newly constructed building is permitted more than 20 feet taller than the width of the street it sits upon. Significantly, that means almost every building in our nation's capital is shorter than the proposed St. Cloud.
Jon, before your young political career becomes tagged by the St. Cloud debacle, I hope you'll go walk the site as I did yesterday. If you have, walk it again. What becomes apparent to even the untrained eye is that by allowing the 781,000-square-foot St. Cloud to soar 126 feet into the air on a 4-acre parcel, you will ruin many sightlines to views of Steamboat's monuments.
Steamboat's monuments are our mountains.
If the St. Cloud goes forward at 126 feet, the equivalent of 12 stories, views of the mountains to the west and south will vanish from many vantage points - other than for the few wealthy enough to reside at the St. Cloud. Equally as tragic, the precedent will be in place for all developers to point to the St. Cloud when arguing height restrictions should be flushed for their project.
Jon, current development along downtown Lincoln Avenue already has been allowed to diminish sightlines to Howelsen Hill and other beautiful views. Need we repeat this mistake at the Clock Tower site?
So, Jon, let me offer a friendly piece of advice from one old D.C. guy to another.
Learn a lesson from the Old Town Hot Springs Board of Directors, which quickly backtracked from doubling membership dues, and don't double the height limit for the St. Cloud.
Otherwise, you may find those who elected you backtracking on their support.
- Rob Douglas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org