Our View: A test for the community


Editorial Board, April 2010 to Aug. 8, 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Towny Anderson, community representative
  • Tatiana Achcar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

As much as an active city of 10,000 residents can, Steamboat Springs will seemingly shut down this week. Between the end of the 2009-10 ski season and spring break for the Steamboat Springs School District, the week of April 18 will be predictably quiet here in Routt County and particularly Steamboat.

That quiet will continue to be magnified by the bad economy and the ongoing U.S. Highway 40 repaving project through the heart of downtown Steamboat. While the economy and the road project have tried the patience and spirit of many residents, neither will break us. Cooperation, collaboration, innovation and community mindedness will continue to play a significant role in our daily work and personal lives.

Many local businesses are entering the third year of a struggling local and national economy. The net effect is particularly painful in a town so reliant on the disposable income of vacationers and, to an extent, its own residents. We’ve already seen some businesses call it quits, and we fear more closings are inevitable during the next several months.

But we’re also seeing creative approaches by local business owners refusing to let the economy ruin them. Backcountry Provisions is offering lunch deliveries during the construction season so folks don’t have to go to its Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street location for sandwiches. Cantina Mexican restaurant is offering unique daily lunch specials in an effort to attract customers. The Steamboat Smokehouse is using spring break and the beginning of mud season to tackle some long-anticipated remodeling. The Tap House Sports Grill is capitalizing on its basement location as a place for folks to avoid the “noise, dust or smell” of the U.S. 40 construction. Mambo Italiano is offering daily dinner specials and discounts. And there are many other examples of local business creativity.

As a community, we’ll need more of that as we edge closer to July 1, the date many folks have circled on their calendars as the first day — for a two-month period, at least — without U.S. 40 construction and the beginning of the height of summer tourist season.

But there are events to look forward to in the weeks leading up to the day we flip the calendar from June to July — such as the Yampa River Fest, Steamboat Marathon, the start of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series and the Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup, to name a few. It’s worth reminding residents that most of our lives don’t stop between the seasons. Our bills and other financial obligations certainly don’t.

It’s also important that we, as a community, keep our eyes on the bigger picture. The end result of the U.S. 40 project will be a significant upgrade for downtown Steamboat. A new traffic signal at 11th Street, concrete bump-outs for safer pedestrian crossings and left-turn arrows at two key downtown intersections are substantial improvements.

We also hope the ongoing construction might play a hand in changing the culture of motorists and transportation in Steamboat. As many of us opt for our bikes and the Yampa River Core Trail instead of the highway during the next couple of months, perhaps those are changes that will persist beyond the completion of the project. Improved patience when behind the wheel and waving a fellow motorist, cyclist or pedestrian through are behaviors more consistent with our self-imposed image of Western friendliness than what we often actually exhibit here in Ski Town USA.

Whether we like it, our mettle is being tested on several fronts. The next 11 weeks will be a great exercise in collaboration and cooperation. As a community, we need one another now more than ever. We will rise to the challenge.


snowbirds 7 years, 1 month ago

Dear Editor: During this period of economic struggles, your newspaper needs to investigate and publish a story on WHY the statistics for the percentage of returned 2010 census forms is WAY lower in Steamboat Springs than in the rest of Colorado. Does Steamboat think that they are so wealthy that they do NOT want to receive their fair share of Federal, State and County tax dollars which is based solely on the city's census population???


Scott Ford 7 years, 1 month ago

Hi Snowbirds - Let's make this as easy as possible.
Census Form Return Rate as of 4/16/2010 Nationwide = 69% Routt County 2000 = 43% 2010 = 49% Hayden 2000=72% 2010=63% Oak Creek 2000=52% 2010=52% Steamboat Springs 2000=44% 2010=39% Yampa 2000=65% 2010=58%

Moffat County 2000=67% 2010=61% Craig 2000=70% 2010=66%

Into the process less than a full month and that door to door follow-up has yet to happen on a large scale, I think it is highly likely that 2000 participation levels will be achieved if not exceeded for the 2010 census.

I think we are going to be OK


callguinness 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe I'm confused on this, but part of the reason for our low numbers is that every residence get one correct?

Assuming that is true, that means every house, condo, hotel room, second home, etc. gets one, most of these are unoccupied on april 1st so that would lead to seeming low return numbers correct?

Or am I totally confused on the process?


kathy foos 7 years, 1 month ago

Seasonal visa workers would be gone and the illegals wouldnt want to be in the count.


Scott Ford 7 years, 1 month ago

Good observation callguinness.
Vacant homes as a percentage of total homes in Routt County is about 35% to 37%. This number has been slowly increasing over the past 10 years. The number of second homes (vacant homes) will result in what appears as a lower census participation count.

The census instructions are pretty clear. If you have more than one home, completely fill out the form for your primary residence. For the second home, mark "0" for number of residents and indicate you live elsewhere. Doing this helps avoid costly visits from a census taker.

If no form is returned by mail a number of attempts to contact the resident of the housing unit are made. If still no contact, the census worker will obtain as much information as they can from neighbors and submit that information. I know that the Census Bureau does some modeling to help fill in the information gaps. Obviously none of this is perfect. The best we can all hope for is a reasonable estimate.

This estimate is important because often funding and programs are based on population thresholds. For example, the official 2000 census population count for Routt County was 19,960. If the count had been over 20,000 there would have been many programs, Routt County would not have qualified for. It would not have been classified as "rural".


papafu 7 years, 1 month ago

I know it must be me, but I can't find anything in the above editorial that refers to the census. Then again maybe I am just overwhelmed by the 10 question form I have to fill out. Hopefully help is on the way.


Scott Ford 7 years, 1 month ago

Hi papafu - It is going to be a slow week in Steamboat Springs - so I am guilty of engaging in chatter that is likely best classified as coffee-shop chatter. Can you blame us when our buddies are in Belize fishing?

Let's just say that the unfocused chatter is a goofy but effective coping strategy. Typing keeps my mind off white beaches - bone fish and beer.


callguinness 7 years, 1 month ago

Scott, your typing may keep your mind off of the beach and beer, but oddly it is causing my mind to wander in that direction...

Anyway back to "reality" here in steamboat.

Some of this is right from our other off topic conversation over there, so ill bring it over here.

From the statements on this page, we have currently had a 39% return rate on the census. You stated that 35-37% of homes here are second homes. I assume most of those people aren't here on April 1st. So I would guess that would mean by throwing them out we can say we have closer to a 70% return rate so far.

On the other side you said we weren't all that different than the rest of the nation, only that we are a little more wealthy and a little older. Not sure I fit into either of the categories, but that is besides the point.

Question is, are you saying that most communities in the US have a 35-37% of their residential units as second homes for people living somewhere else? I would have expect that in the destination resort type communities, but the metro and rural areas seem like they wouldn't be that high?

Other than all that where do you find this information, more so I can look it up and not have to ask you so many questions?


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