Steamboat Springs Oak Creek business owners came to a consensus Thursday night on what the town needs to do to improve community-police relations, though they are keeping mum on exactly what those demands are until presenting them to the Town Board next week.
Roughly 25 business owners met in a closed meeting with trustees Josh Voorhis and Gerry Greenwood. The Town Board directed Voorhis and Greenwood on Aug. 28 to meet with the group, and report back to the full Town Board about whatever tangible solutions could be reached.
Before Thursday's meeting was closed to the public and the press, business owners present were adamant that their decisions needed to be kept quiet so the Town Board hears them first, and without accompanying discussion by Oak Creek residents and in the media.
Because only two Town Board members were present Thursday night, the meeting was not required to be public under Colorado law.
"The reason why we're taking this tactic is hopefully not to muddy the waters," said Andy Benjamin, who was appointed to speak on behalf of the group. Benjamin and his wife own Chelsea's Restaurant.
"We're trying to protect the process," Benjamin said Friday. He declined to speak further about the owners' demands.
At the conclusion of Thursday night's three-hour meeting, which Benjamin described as "a very civil discussion," the group had authored a document for presentation to the Town Board at its meeting next Thursday. Benjamin declined to comment further on the document's content or related discussions.
The meeting's attendees were nearly the same business owners who signed a public apology to their customers in August, for what they allege are problems caused by the Oak Creek Police Department. A number of businesses have alleged that the police in Oak Creek are at least partly to blame for decreased customer foot traffic and declining revenues.
In general, the group is pleased with the way the Town Board is taking its concerns under advisement, Benjamin said.