Eastman to leave city planning

Department's No. 2 will stick out Steamboat 700 annexation

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— Planning Services Manager John Eastman, the No. 2 official in the city of Steamboat Springs' Planning and Community Development Department, is resigning.

Eastman said that he is resigning because his wife got a new job in Austin, Texas. Eastman has been a key player in the city's negotiation of the Steamboat 700 development that is seeking annexation into city limits, and, as a Routt County planner, helped develop the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan that is guiding the process.

Eastman said he will see Steamboat 700 through; a City Council vote on whether to annex the master-planned community of about 500 acres is planned for this fall.

"I will be here through the end of the year wrapping up my projects," Eastman said. "I'm not going anywhere in the short term. : I'm really looking forward to seeing the annexation through."

Director Tom Leeson said it was important to him that Eastman stay with the city and continue to work on Steamboat 700 given his history with the project. Eastman said he feels the annexation process is proceeding nicely and that the community is on track to realize the goals - such as affordable housing - of the WSSAP, although it has proven more difficult than anyone anticipated.

Eastman said substantial federal and state money was expected to aid the construction of improvements to U.S. Highway 40 in the area, but that has proven not to be the case and had a significant impact on the financial impact of the development.

"I think we're right in the heart of the most difficult part," he said. "If it was not for Highway 40, we would not be having the difficulties we are."

City Manager Jon Roberts noted that the city's negotiating team includes several members and that it plans to have most major issues buttoned up in coming months.

"We don't view that as having a negative impact on the Steamboat 700 project schedule," Roberts said about Eastman's departure. "While John's departure will leave a vacancy, we don't see it impacting our schedule or workload."

Steamboat 700 Principal and Project Manager Danny Mulcahy said news about Eastman's resignation does not concern him since he will stay on through the project. Mulcahy said Eastman may actually be able to devote more time and attention to the project without the distractions of other city business.

"Austin is an awesome place," Mulcahy said. "I wish him the best of luck."

Eastman also was heavily involved with the city's urban renewal authority at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. He joined the city more than two years ago at a time when the city was bolstering its planning staff to accommodate a growth spurt.

Eastman worked in Routt County planning for more than seven years, taking on projects including the WSSAP in 1999 and 2006, transportation aspects of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan Update in 2004, and numerous open space projects.

In Austin, Eastman said he plans to go back to school for a master's degree.

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