Commentary: Vote ‘yes’ on 2A for trails and park
October 20, 2013
This November, the Steamboat Springs community will vote to commit the accommodations tax dollars for the second time since 1986. The decision in front of voters in Referendum 2A is to allocate the accommodations tax revenue for 10 years to fund two projects instrumental in the tourism economy and the enhancement of our community for all who recreate and live in Steamboat and the Yampa Valley.
The two projects are the ballot finalists after a 15-month process that included a proposal period, vetting by the lodging tax committee and final approval from the Steamboat Springs City Council to become a ballot question. The final step of this process is to ask you, the voter, to allocate the accommodations tax funds to the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance and the Yampa River park projects.
During the vetting process, the projects in 2A proved the best use of accommodations tax funds to build recreational amenities that are economic drivers and satisfiers that also will enhance the community of Steamboat and surrounding areas. As a result, the projects of 2A will generate year-round tourism and economic opportunity.
This is not a new tax and does not increase any taxes on the residents of Steamboat. The accommodations tax has been generated through a 1 percent fee on visitor lodging since 1986. Referendum 2A presents an opportunity to enhance our community's amenities and further establish Steamboat as a globally recognized destination through the use of funds generated by visitors.
Referendum 2A will fund the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance master plan with an expected $5.1 million throughout 10 years and provide funds to begin purchasing land for the Yampa River Park. Project details are as follows:
■ 2A will build an interconnected, comprehensive trails network, including an extended Yampa River Core Trail, directional trails on Emerald Mountain, new trails on Rabbit Ears Pass and Buffalo Pass to Steamboat Ski Area, improved street-to-trail connections, upgraded trailhead amenities, traffic crossings and safe routes to schools. These trails will be known throughout the international outdoor community.
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■ 2A will provide a downtown riverfront park — a charming amenity that will be usable year-round by residents and visitors. This city-owned asset will offer Yampa River access, a view corridor to Howelsen Hill and the potential for an outdoor stage, ice rink and location for multiple festivals. The possibilities are endless for a new park in the heart of downtown Steamboat that builds on one of our most prized natural amenities: the Yampa River.
With a 10-year commitment of accommodations tax funds, the selected projects can maximize and expand recreation experiences for residents and visitors through implementing long-range plans and allowing for the leveraging of funds to secure grant opportunities.
Referendum 2A is in alignment with the vision of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan the creation of open space and parks is paramount to the Community Plan, and 2A would foster the fulfillment of that vision.
The time is now, and 2A is the opportunity to enrich and enhance the Steamboat community experience.