Editorial Board, June 2009 to September 2009
- Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Grant Fenton, community representative
- Paul Strong, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs City officials and Steamboat 700 developers should take all reasonable steps to complete annexation negotiations in time for a pre-election vote by the City Council. Such a vote, regardless of its outcome, would be in the best interest of the city and its residents.
Many critical issues involving the proposed master-planned community west of Steamboat Springs have been negotiated - including affordable housing and open space - but several substantial hurdles remain.
The city's Steamboat 700 negotiating team and the developers continue to meet weekly to hammer out agreements on items such as payment schedules and amounts for U.S. Highway 40 improvements, water resource development and a new police station. Those negotiations often reach a stalemate, at which point the City Council is asked to help set direction, as it did last week. But the council's once-a-month work session for Steamboat 700 might not be enough to help the negotiating team and developers wade through the complex annexation proposal in a timely manner. Doubling those efforts could help the two sides reach consensus on the proposal in time for a vote this fall, which would be appropriate given the familiarity, time and dedication the current council has given to the Steamboat 700 proposal.
This council, regardless of how it might vote on a final annexation proposal, is uniquely qualified to make such a critical decision for the future of Steamboat. Council members, city officials and staff are using the blueprint of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan to guide them through the process. That's a plan born of years of community input and dialogue, and it recently was revised and readopted by a past City Council.
The result of a council vote on Steamboat 700 is anything but a foregone conclusion. The seven current council members have demonstrated a commitment to protecting the financial interest of the city and its residents.
We don't envy the decision that awaits council. But we hope they consider the long-term impacts and potential of Steamboat 700. The annexation of a large, 20-year development speaks directly to the passionate growth vs. no-growth ideologies held closely by many in our community. Make no mistake about it: Steamboat Springs and Routt County will continue to grow, even if that growth is temporarily stalled by the state of the economy.
Contrary to popular belief, the annexation of Steamboat 700 will not result in an immediate or even short-term explosion of growth in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat 700 is a long-term project, and buildout largely will be determined by market conditions.
City officials and residents would be wise to ask themselves what happens if a properly vetted, negotiated and master-planned community in west Steamboat isn't approved? Is piecemeal development in the west of Steamboat Springs area - or farther down the highway in communities such as Hayden, Stagecoach, Oak Creek and Craig - ideal for the retention of our community character, or does it move us closer to becoming the next Pitkin County?
We understand that those who have been vocal in their opposition to Steamboat 700 feel the project is not in the community's best interest, and they might prefer to see an annexation vote deferred to a new City Council. Although we disagree, it's worth reminding residents that a mechanism exists for citizens to petition the council's annexation vote onto a ballot. Such a vote would be to uphold or reject a council-approved or denied annexation ordinance.
City officials must continue to take every reasonable step to ensure the future fiscal security of Steamboat Springs, particularly as it relates to the impacts of a major development project like Steamboat 700. But perhaps it's time for the City Council to double its efforts to facilitate timely negotiations and a potential pre-election vote on Steamboat 700.