Jack Trautman: Now is the time for action
June 23, 2014
With my recent resignation as chairman of the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission, I want to take this opportunity to thank the current Steamboat Springs City Council for its support. Scott Ford, in particular, has taken parks and rec under his wing and has been a great mentor and adviser to the entire commission. John Overstreet is a strong leader for the parks and recreation department, and I left the commission knowing it remains a very competent team that will carry on in fine fashion. Thanks to all for giving me an opportunity to contribute during the past five-plus years.
I also want to thank all of the passionate homeowners near Rita Valentine Park who kept the park undeveloped for so many years. Ultimately, your powerful input led to the commission's recommendation to kill the 2009 Rita Valentine Park Conceptual Plan, to which the City Council agreed.
Rita Valentine Park currently is zoned by ordinance as parkland. Those surrounding the park want it zoned as open space. Since the Park is completely undeveloped, it is easy for the City Council to consider re-zoning. The city wouldn't consider re-zoning developed parks like the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, Howelsen Ice Arena, rodeo grounds or even Emerald Park. But undeveloped parkland is ripe for re-zoning.
Great idea! Let's re-zone Rita Valentine Park. However, even though I am probably the most ardent supporter of all things parks, recreation, open space and trails, I firmly believe the city has a much higher priority for this parcel than open space.
One of our biggest needs as a community is affordable housing. Who in this community would put additional open space ahead of affordable housing? We have plenty of open space, trails and parks. We have little affordable housing.
With Rita Valentine completely undeveloped and strong input from citizens for re-zoning it, the City Council has a unique opportunity: Zone it for affordable housing, set aside 3 acres for a dog park and insist that the developer designs, installs and maintains trails within the development (like the Sanctuary Trail).
City Council, now is the time for you to take bold action — action that wouldn't have been possible had Rita Valentine Park been developed. Seize this unique opportunity to address one of Steamboat's most pressing needs, namely affordable housing. I am confident you will get strong community support.