Donor for downtown Steamboat flower baskets emerges
February 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs — A prospective Steamboat Springs homebuyer said he's willing to provide some of the funding to save the flower baskets that line downtown each summer.
Richard Thompson, of SoHo, N.Y., said Thursday that he was surprised to learn that the city cut funding for the flower baskets that hang from light posts along Lincoln Avenue. Thompson, a Colorado Springs native, wants to buy a home and move his business to Steamboat. He said the flower decision has him reconsidering.
"I want to be part of the community, but I don't want to start being part of the community if part of it goes away before I get there," he said.
Thompson said he would contribute one-third of the first $10,000 for the flower baskets and their watering, but he challenged other residents, businesses and organizations to provide the rest.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett was thrilled upon hearing of Thompson's challenge.
"That's fabulous," she said. "And what's really important about that is people outside the community who want to be part of the community think the flowers are important."
Mainstreet Steamboat has been working with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association to save the flower baskets. The groups also have been working with the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs, which has bought and sold the flower barrels that adorn many storefronts all summer. All three organizations, which are scheduled to meet next week, are working together to figure out how to buy the flowers, which needs to be done by March, and water them.
The city's costs for the flower baskets and watering — including watering the flower barrels — was about $8,500, Finance Director Kim Weber said.
Barnett estimated the cost to buy and water the flower baskets at $13,000. She said Steamboat got a better price for watering the flowers because it was part of a larger contract the city had with a independent contractor.
Thompson said he would like to move permanently to Steamboat. With him would come his business, Freshpet, which makes all-natural pet food.
Thompson said Steamboat still has the feel of an out-of-the-way mountain town with charm, and he thinks the flower baskets are part of that. He said losing something as seemingly simple as downtown flowers could result in fewer people like him buying homes and contributing to the tax base.
"You've got outsiders who want to buy here and don't want to lose the ambiance," he said. "It has a wider effect."
Easter Egg Hunt
Barnett also is working to save the annual Easter Egg Hunt, which also was cut from the city's 2012 budget. She hopes to raise about $1,000 to save the 36-year tradition.
"There are so many children in this community who have grown up for years with that, generations of kids who have grown up with the Easter Egg Hunt," she said. "So we're trying to make sure it doesn't go away."
Barnett said a majority of the costs is for the hay used to hide the eggs. The eggs are filled with candy and prizes for children 9 and younger.
She said it cost about $3,500 for the city to host the event. She is optimistic Mainstreet can do it for less using a combination of volunteers, sponsors and donors.
For more information or to donate, call Barnett at 970-846-1800.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com