Good For Steamboat committee: Our future is now

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The choice is clear: a yes vote on Referendum A will fulfill 15 years of community planning, give us the tools to control growth, and protect open space in the Yampa Valley.

But in a campaign environment, the choice can be obscured by misinformation. Often, if a campaign can’t fight fair with the facts, then they fight the facts with fear.

For example: the Let’s Vote committee’s newspaper ads now feature steamrollers and menacing, red-eyed wolves snarling at cowboys. What’s next — a wolf driving a steamroller, running over cowboys?

We know Steamboat voters are smarter than that. When presented with facts, we can make the best decisions for our community’s future.

The facts show that voting yes on Referendum A to uphold the annexation is the right step forward for Steamboat Springs to control growth and improve the quality of life in the Yampa Valley for decades to come.

What’s in it for us?

The communitywide benefits in the Steamboat 700 annexation agreement are substantial and worth more than $100 million. They address capital needs and investments that our community needs, with or without Steamboat 700.

Importantly, this annexation does not approve development — it establishes a framework for planned growth throughout 20 to 30 years or longer. Our community still must approve each phase and each development. A sampling of the benefits includes:

■ Transportation: More than $16 million for U.S. Highway 40 and other roads. The transit system will be expanded, enhancing transit service citywide. The phases of development at Steamboat 700 are linked to U.S. 40 improvements — they must be constructed or funded at specific milestones for development to commence.

■ Facilities: The Fire District thinks we need a new west side fire station today. Steamboat 700 is donating the land and one-third of the funding for the new station and fire trucks. Our elementary schools in town are near capacity today, and Steamboat 700 will fund 50 percent of a new elementary school and a high school expansion.

■ Parks and trails: All city residents benefit from the 30 acres of parks and 120 acres of open space, including soccer fields, picnic facilities and dog parks. There are also 12 miles of trails and a connection to the Core Trail.

■ Community Housing: A land donation of 15 acres dispersed throughout the development, and a revenue stream, gives the community the flexibility to meet our varying housing needs over the life of the development and beyond. Additionally, there’s an anti-speculation provision and an attainable housing program that assures an additional 30 percent of the free-market housing is marketed to locals first and at price points the local work force can afford.

■ Services: Steamboat 700 is a true mixed-use community with a supermarket, a community center with day care, office space, retail and services that will reduce trips on U.S. 40 and reduce traffic congestion.

■ Revenues to the city: The city will collect $20 million to $28 million in use and excise taxes from new construction over 20-plus years, and more than $50 million from dedicated revenue streams for capital facilities, city services and affordable housing. More locals living close to their jobs will generate additional sales tax revenues from local spending.

City in control, protected

The city has done its homework during 15 years of planning, 300 hours of public meetings and 5,000 hours of city staff time to finalize the Steamboat 700 annexation agreement. The city hired the best municipal annexation attorney in the state to make sure the city and existing residents are protected, and he’s described this as the most comprehensive annexation agreement that he has worked on.

Simply put, the annexation provides the city with an extraordinary amount of control over all aspects of Steamboat 700.

If the U.S. Highway 40 improvements are not constructed or funded, the city can halt development.

If the school expansion is not funded, the city can halt development.

If the middle-class housing goals are not being met, the city can halt development.

And, the city will not take on debt or obligations to finance infrastructure. All of these commitments are in writing in the annexation agreement.

Most important benefit

Infrastructure and facilities are important, but so is the strength of our community character. We need to address challenges that face us today, and we need to implement a long-term plan for our region’s future.

This annexation is good for Steamboat. Vote yes on Referendum A.

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