Steamboat Springs The controversy about the Community Alliance recently ignited by the July 24 Steamboat Today article and its selectively chosen comments made in Iowa by Steve Aigner prompt me to respond. Neither the image of the Alliance as presented by the reporter nor Aigner's statements quoted truly represent our organization.
I visited the Yampa Valley in the 1950s and became a full-time resident in 1963. In the 46 years since, I have observed the random and unplanned growth this city and this county have experienced, and I am convinced that if such development had been managed in the public interest, it would have led to much better city planning and financial stability. Consequently, in 2000, I became a founding member of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley.
Steamboat Springs government allows for any and all to address concerns associated with our explosive development. Yet, having attended many City Council meetings, I find that, very much like what takes place in our national government, those with prospects for near-term personal gain have the loudest voice.
But who speaks for the longer-term public interest? Very few voices are heard in that regard, and most of them recently have come from the Community Alliance. It was, in fact, our group, with Steve Aigner leading, that stood up to the plate last fall when the City Council was on the verge of forgiving developers certain fees they owed the city for the last three years. All but one of those who spoke were members of the Alliance. None of the developers spoke in favor of saving the city money. The Council, embarrassed to be giving away almost $5 million at a time when the recession first was impacting us, finally voted to collect the money - a reversal of their vote the week before.
Our national government has seen the rise of similarly minded public interest groups that attempt to provide a forum for common citizens' concerns to counter - often in vain - the formidable forces of the special interests and their highly paid lobbyists and lawyers. It was Ralph Nader, the founder of Public Citizen, who so embarrassed the automobile industry that Congress voted to make seatbelts a requirement. Nader was, of course, vilified and persecuted by the industry.
Nader also sometimes made comments that were at odds with the mission of his organization. I certainly have done the same; yet in no way would I like to see such comments selectively positioned to represent my views or those of the Alliance.
In the case of the upcoming annexation proposals, like many members of the Alliance, I have not yet made up my mind as to the viability of Steamboat 700 under the conditions thus far proposed. Steamboat 700 is a form of managed development, and the Alliance is all for planned and managed growth. The final test, however, will be to determine whether the public benefit will significantly outweigh the public costs. At present, it seems that the public costs in terms of water supply, traffic congestion, minimal affordable housing and revenue outlays will be substantial. We believe the public's interest should be in smart growth, not just growth for the sake of growth.
Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley