Scott L. Ford: Letter to Douglas

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— Dear Rob,

I enjoy your columns. I applaud you for your willingness to weigh in on community issues rather than focusing on ones far beyond the borders of the Yampa Valley. You have touched a few "hot buttons" with comments about Triple Crown.

I am very familiar with local and regional economic data. The Steamboat Springs economy is in pretty good shape. For that matter, the entire Yampa Valley is healthy. We are in a good position to weather some approaching economic storm clouds much better than many small communities. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Way too often our economy is described as a three-legged stool (agriculture, mining and tourism). It's a great visual picture, but our economy is much more diverse. The only business activities that we do not do a lot of anymore are fur trapping and gold mining. Just about everything else we have done economically we still continue to do; we just keep adding more business activities.

During the past 10 to 12 years, an economic segment best described as an "amenity or lifestyle economy" began to emerge locally. It does not fit neatly into any one industry sector. What we do know is that it is composed of active early retirees, part-time residents and location-neutral businesses. This group often derives its income from sources that extend well beyond the boundaries of this valley. This economic diversity is invaluable. Many local residents benefit from the jobs and economic opportunity this diversity brings.

Individuals associated with this "lifestyle" economy, as well as many of us that live here, are attracted and stay because of the amenities that are uniquely available. These are the amenities of a beautiful place, a cornucopia of recreational and cultural opportunities, a safe community, one that values families, etc.

These also are the community assets that attract visitors. Yea! We need these visitors because we live in the house that tourism built. The built recreational and cultural infrastructure and the level of public and business services we enjoy cost a whole lot more than we could afford on our own. As residents, we have been willing to share with our visitors those tangible and intangible community amenities we value that make Steamboat a great place to live, work and play.

The "hot buttons" you have touched on in your columns highlight the issues when one industry sector, "tourism," and specifically a sub-set identified as Triple Crown, begins to rub against another sector, "lifestyle." The temptation is to look at this as an either/or - and not both - proposition. These economic sectors can happily co-exist. We can, however, only co-exist happily if we set boundaries.

Use of the Emerald Park fields may be just one of those boundaries. Promises were made to the folks living in the Pamela Lane neighborhood regarding the use of those fields. Is it in writing? No, it is not. Thankfully, we still live in a community where a person's word is their bond.

The characteristic of honesty is a community quality that does not need to be sacrificed in this situation in the name of business. By being true to our collective community word, we help protect and foster one of our most valuable economic assets - our sense of community as evident by the respect we have for one another. The cost of a broken promise likely will far outweigh the economic benefit that may result. Is it worth it? What do you think?

Scott L. Ford

Steamboat Springs

Comments

elkeye 6 years, 7 months ago

Right on Scott!

Years ago, Triple Crown has overstepped any reasonable boundary.

If the City Council will not set reasonable boundaries for the Steamboat Springs "Chamber" Resort Association and Triple Crown Sports, the residents of Steamboat Springs set reasonable boundaries will.

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scooter 6 years, 7 months ago

"Thankfully, we still live in a community where a person's word is their bond."

I'm not so sure...

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JustSomeJoe 6 years, 7 months ago

Well reasoned and said Scott. Maybe the Local can share you with the Pilot on Fridays instead of Rob Douglas. Scott's column in the the Local is a must read for me.

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caplka 6 years, 7 months ago

Very well written but again with a hint of elitism and lack of true understanding of the TC participant. These are youngsters wanting to have fun in a mountain town with Parks designated for that purpose.

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53native 6 years, 7 months ago

Very well reasoned and said, Scott. My recollection is that City's Council promise to keep TC out of Emerald Park was discussed at a council meeting, in maybe '93-94 and there should be minutes of that meeting or meetings. It was definitely discussed at multiple Parks & Rec Commission meetings. I believe what Council said was there could be no use of Emerald Park for TC UNLESS an alternate access route (other than Pamela Lane) to the park was developed. If use of Emerald Park is that critical to TC, let them come up with the million plus bucks needed to install a new RR crossing on the S. side of the hotel.

To those who wonder what the big deal is, there's a huge difference between 3 or 4 trains a day going through, that take maybe a minute each to pass, and the kind of traffic jam and gridlock that accompanies most TC events. How would the Pamela Lane critcs like to be trapped in or out of THEIR neighborhoods several times a week for 10 weeks in the summer ?? Not to mention the general compatibility of parade-volume traffic coming in and out of a residential neighborhood. And, yes, I did used to live on Pamela Lane- had no trouble adapting to the trains but still hate the TC gridlock, wherever I encounter it.

As to Scott's bigger picture, I agree completely that the StmBt economy has grown diverified and strong enough that, even without a property tax, the City does not need events on the scale of TC (i.e. 4 day invasions of hordes of SUVs for 2-3 months/summer) to continue providing the level of services and amenities that both old and new residents have come to expect. When ALL the costs of TC are factored in (including demand on City services), is the social disruption of an otherwise extremely enjoyable place to live really worth it? By the way, I do not believe this is a class warfare arguemnt; it's more a matter of scale. If 13,000 skiers a day all drove their SUV's to Howelson Hill twice a day, the gridlock would be just as annoying. And I'll repeat my observation that I've had friends and family who had the misfortune to come to town during big TC weeks who universally said "What the *&#! - never again". I wonder how many of those folks, who are more than willing to spread some of their money around, are going elsewhere just BECAUSE of TC?

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id04sp 6 years, 7 months ago

Scott,

So what do we call ourselves? "Life Stylers?"

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