Jack Vanderbeek: Back Referendum 2A


Hello, all. I am Jack Vanderbeek, a 15-year-old mountain biker who has lived in Steamboat for the past seven years. A year after I moved here from Denver, I got into mountain biking. It was summer 2006, and my dad signed me up to ride mountain bikes with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in the summers.

I was put in a group with Cory Prager, a local who mountain biked as well, as my coach. While we rode cross-country, he would tell me about downhill mountain biking and how he was getting into it. As we rode, I developed a passion for the speed I got while riding downhill. I began to do shuttle laps up to the top of Spring Creek Trail and started taking the gondola up and riding down Mount Werner.

Cory always would tell me about his trips to Whistler, British Columbia; how amazing all of the trails were; and how much fun they were to ride. Finally, in late summer 2008, our family took a trip to Whistler. We drove there, and it was the best riding I had ever done in my life.

I continued racing downhill through the next summer, which was when we took our next trip to Whistler. This time, we planned to stay longer, and my brother and I attended a camp with some of the best riders in the world while in Whistler. During my time at the camp, I met a ton of kids from all around the world: Europe, Canada, varying parts of the U.S., Australia and even one kid from Namibia, a country in southern Africa.

After our camp was done in Whistler, we made the trip up north to Sun Peaks Resort and Silver Star Resort. Both of these mountains were substantially less crowded, with trails almost as good. Coming back from that trip, I realized it was possible to make a bike park as good as Whistler, and I knew that was all I wanted to become of Steamboat.

Throughout the years, I had been going to Winter Park annually to ride my bike and watching how they improved trails and attracted spectators to watch events got me excited on how our mountain could do the same. Last summer, the mountain finally stepped up on building trails, sparking hope inside me for a better mountain, but I knew a lot more would have to be done for us to become a favorable resort.

This summer, even more was built, continuing to excite me for what could happen in the future of activities in the summer at Mount Werner. Steamboat Springs has come a long way in improving biking since I started riding here in 2006. Now, we have a tremendous opportunity to expand trails even more. I can’t vote, but if I could, I would vote for Referendum 2A. It will benefit our community as well as visitors who will travel here to bike, hike and enjoy the outdoors.

Jack Vanderbeek

Steamboat Springs


John St Pierre 3 years, 6 months ago


Unfortunately that is not all about biking and trails.... this ballot issue is also about bailing property owners on Yampa Street under the auspices of creating parks.

The town ignoring the imput of a committee they created has now decided to circumvent those recommendations by combining both options under one ballot so as to force the vote to the benefit of Yampa St.

In fairness to the public the two options should have been put on the ballot as that TWO SEPERATE BALLOT ISSUES !!!!!

I suspect the vote is going to burn both sides of the fence.......


John Weibel 3 years, 6 months ago

In reality the bike trails can utilize the money as it comes in. To throw that much at trails up front would probably end up with a much less desirable product than going about it on a yearly basis as new things come to light.

Why bond it all up front for bike trails?


Eric Meyer 3 years, 6 months ago

While the ballot language is not exactly how anyone would have written it on there own, there are many good things that can come of this commitment.

There is no plan to bond the trails projects. The 10 year time frame is still a spend as you go approach, but shows commitment to land managers. Most projects will have final planning done one year and then be constructed the next year. Many have asked for years to extend the Core trail and without a multi year commitment, that type of project becomes nearly impossible.


John St Pierre 3 years, 6 months ago

But the other side of this issue is the Yampa Street improvements to whose benefit ???

What is the other most busiest street downtown... what street is always used as the detour when Lincoln is closed... and when that happens what is one of the most dangerous places to walk..... OAK !!!! if the city wants to improve a street..create more parking.....why not the one that really needs it !!!!!


Eric Meyer 3 years, 6 months ago

I have not been involved with the Yampa Street improvements proposal, but do see value in more public access to the Yampa River. It is unfortunate that the ballot language was not cleaner or simpler. Both Yampa and Oak have room for improvement for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. Finding the right funding source is the hard part.


Cory Prager 3 years, 6 months ago

Jack, Great article super proud of you! Keep on fighting for what you believe in.

Cory Prager


Scott Wedel 3 years, 6 months ago

It is nice to be interested in an issue, but soon enough you learn to care about how a notable goal is attempted to be achieved.

Anyone against affordable worker housing? Well, that was the thought behind the disastrous Iron Horse purchase that has been an complete failure. A waste of millions of dollars that has provided very little housing with a building shuttered.

This funding lock in will come with negative consequences. The annual funding is not simply going to be given to the Trails Alliance for them to work on projects. Anyone with any knowledge of how government works would expect the formation of a government authority similar to YVHA to manage the spending of the money. The authority will have a paid administrator, a staff lawyer, accountant and so on. At least $100K a year of trail funding will then be spent on administrative overhead.

The trails authority will be appointed and like YVHA will be protected from public opinion of their decisions. And like YVHA, will soon enough damage public support for that program.

So, if you want building trails to become associated with government waste then support 2A.

I think it would be far better and more effective for the Trails Alliance to go the city council and get funding for popular projects. Thus, I support building trails and oppose 2A.


jack legrice 3 years, 6 months ago

1.10 years is too long.2. We are getting behind on our maintaining our infrastructure. We can not keep adding things without looking at it's upkeep. 3. Why should we keep throwing money at the private sector.? Hopefully there will be enough no votes to bring it back to the table and come up with a sensible way to spend this money. Even better get rid of this tax.


Robin Craigen 3 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Jack for sharing your passion and enthusiasm for trails in Steamboat.

It's easy for some to be dismissive of the potential of the Trails Alliance proposal until you look around (the World - not just North America) and see what other communities have done to ignite their cycling tourism by building new trails and improving their level of bike friendliness.

This is not some great newfangled idea that came out of no-where. The potential has been demonstrated in Whistler BC, Northstar CA, Moab UT, 7-Stanes in Scotland and many, many other places. If you build it they WILL come. The International Mountain Bike Association backs this plan, experts around the country spoke at our Bike Summits and urged us to go for it. Steamboat is a great cycling community; we have the kind of terrain people love to ride in, over and around; it's a great place to visit after you are done cycling for the day; and we have a ton of capacity already built in our winter tourism infrastructure that we can use to accommodate new visitors.

Denying the potential because of the fear of the administrative cost is simply clutching at straws. Denying it because 10 years is too long is like saying any great new project that is not constructed in 1 - 3 years is untenable. It will take time, and that's OK, but it will take a lot less time with this funding. We need to do it right and 2A will allow this to happen.

This community has been building towards this kind of opportunity for over 20 years through the passionate involvement of local riders through Routt County Riders, and the leadership of the Bike Town USA Initiative with all the major stakeholders represented and pulling in the same direction. In my experience that is almost unprecedented.

2A offers Steamboat the greatest potential I have seen to "move the needle" on summer tourism and in the same breath it will significantly enhance our community. The execution of this plan will require the same passion and determination that got us this far, but when you look at what has been achieved so far, especially in the last 5 - 10 years, you have to believe that it is worth it.

Not a new tax - a new way to use revenue provided to us by our visitors. Let's give them something that they really want!


mark hartless 3 years, 6 months ago

Jack sounds like he has the same mindset as many other americans.

All the good stuff he writes about with these trails is true. There might even be unforseen benefits the community would discover after implementation.

However, like many others, Jack had plenty to say about the potential benefits but not one word to say about the effects of removing that so called "revenue"/ "taxes"/"public funds" from it's rightful owner.

The taxpayers are the rightful owners of that "revenue" before it becomes a bike trail (or aircraft carrier, school, fire truck, recreation center, etc) or whatever else it becomes.

We seem to still understand the merit of these other "things" while we seem to have totally forgotten the potential use that the taxpayer had for that money before it was confiscated from them at gunpoint.

While bike trails are nice, those paying the taxes toi make them a reality might have used that money to buy their kids braces, pay for a second automobile, purchase more nutritious food, or even buy their kid's first bike.

How many taxpayers would have a bike like Jack's but they can't afford one because they had to cough up their would-be "bike money" for Jack's (or the rest of you people's) bike trail???


mark hartless 3 years, 6 months ago

You folk's propensity to send in the jack-booted tax collectors to secure your WANTS (not needs) is shameful... totally shameful.


Robin Craigen 3 years, 6 months ago

Before you weigh in how shameful this is I suggest that you do your homework on what this tax revenue is, who pays for it and what the stated purpose of the tax language is.

It's an existing accommodations tax paid by visitors to our community. No-one confiscated anything at gun point. Tax revenue is how thing get paid for, and 2A is a very good use of this money to enhance our community and provide many more great recreational opportunities for both visitors and residents.


mark hartless 3 years, 6 months ago

ALL taxes are taken at gunpoint, Robin. Just refuse to pay your's long enough and see if the jack-booted men in black masks don't pay you a visit, then get back to me on that one, ok.

It is unfortunate that so many people lack the ability to contemplete those things which COULD happen but which DO NOT happen because the "revenue" needed for those things was confiscated... AT GUNPOINT.

One of the laws of economics is that if you make someting more expensive people buy LESS of it. This includes vacations to your beloved Steamboat Springs. For every dollar (or $100) added to the cost of said vacation, someone somewhere who might have come to vacation in Steamboat finds an alternate use for THEIR hard-earned money... probably at a resort with less taxes... even if it DIDN'T have another bike trail.

But, alas, true to leftist form, when the planes don't fill up, will they blame it on the expense of a vacation which was rendered unaffordable in no small part by excessive taxation? Nooooooo. They will come up with another tax to supplement the empty planes.

Would it occur to them to compare the increased cost of hotel accomodations which are saddled with excessive taxes with a possible correlation in UN-AFFORDABLE HOUSING? Nooooo. Instead they will just start some new "program" to provide affordable housing that was taken away in part by the high accomodations tax.

And on it goes in the mind of the classic leftist. All of life's problems to be solved by the same philosophy and the same government which caused most of them in the first place.

It's funny, really... they understand how we need to leave nautre alone, protect it from man's intrusion. Yet they can not apply that philosophy to their fellow man...


mark hartless 3 years, 6 months ago

What I hate is people using the police power of government to shake down their fellow man while having the audacity to tell them what a favor they are doing for their community.

If people want to actually help their community they should use their own time to raise funds for the surperfluous desires common to them and their peers instead of compelling others to finance their desires.

Yes Mark, some taxes are necessary. However, the inability to distinguish what is "necessary" from what is often merely selfish desire is what I am lamenting here. Roads, schools, snow-plows and police are "necessary". Bike trails, however "nice" they may be, are NOT. Therefore, they are NOT the domain of government. No matter how "nice" these things might be it is not fair to compel a weary traveler who just wants a nights rest to finance them.

There is a moral case against this which understandably escapes many of you. That's why I have tried to get you to see the fiscal consequences of making your local economy harder to do business in. The reason many of you can't make that connection either is that you simply want what you want to be true and so... off you go to see to it..

Much like "global warming", when it finally becomes undeniable you will just change the name to "climate change". In the case of this tax you'll call it "revenue" or "investment in the future" or "disposable income".

Funny... the STATE never has "disposable income" but is instead always out of money while the individuals which fund the STATE are expected to have an almost inexhaustable supply of it...


Nate Bird 3 years, 6 months ago

Jack, You are a passionate young man - you deserve nothing but praise for standing up for what you believe in. It is very admirable of you to take action and be proactive in furthering the prosperity of the town you love. I only hope that many of your peers are this passionate, and I'm confident that they are. We look forward to you being able to vote in 3 years and further being able to make a difference. More power to you - keep up the good work and stay the course - we will stay united! Atta kid!


Aryeh Copa 3 years, 6 months ago

It always amazes me how the most uninformed and uneducated on a subject often have the most to say about it. To say that the accommodation tax is taken at gunpoint is asinine. The voters and taxpayers of Steamboat Springs approved this tax in 1986 and I have never heard of anyone booking a vacation to Steamboat because someone was holding them at gunpoint. Nor have I yet to hear anyone from the lodging community complain about the 1% tax that the "jack-booted tax collectors" (residents of Steamboat Springs) approved and voted for. To those voting "no" on 2A, I would like to know what your alternative is. But please, before you suggest things like sewer or road improvements, read the original Accommodations Tax ballot language (http://steamboatsprings.net/DocumentCenter/View/2547) and educate yourself as to what the tax can and cannot be used for and who pays for it. And remember, the tax will be collected even if 2A does not pass. At that point city counsel will have the discretion to spend it as they see fit and as they interpret the ballot language. Or the whole process could start over and wast a bunch of the city's tax dollars trying to pass the same, or another, referendum next year. Thank you Jack V for educating yourself and writing such a thoughtful commentary. Don't be discouraged by the ignorant and thoughtless comments of adults with a lesser intellect.


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