An open letter to the Steamboat Springs City Council:
Behold the lodging tax debate. Money collected to bring more guests to town seems suspiciously to benefit locals the most. We have an excellent trails system in place. Will additional trails bring additional visitors? Our citizen committee has worked very long and hard, but have members of council directed the process to be most effective? Do these funds have to be used immediately? Have we as a community examined all practical avenues for this investment?
We now have two groups vying for the accommodations tax. The bicycle group, dedicated cyclists, wants to spend millions of dollars on trails. The Yampa Street group wants to share the funds for a promenade. Is a promenade benefitting one street a reason to pick our town over another resort town? Are these groups advocating for the interests of the community or for projects that fulfill their own narrow, self-serving goals?
One idea would be to have Steamboat commit to building and operating a 1,000- to 1,500-seat convention center at, let’s say, the Iron Horse Inn location. This immediately would create jobs both in construction and long-term operations. It would benefit the smaller convention sites, shops, dining, night life and, of course, hotels and condominiums — the very groups collecting the accommodations tax.
We can improve and add some biking trails and improve Yampa Street. But it is time to make a decision based on business and not just a feel-good solution.