Julia A. Chapman, MD: Grow cautiously
July 6, 2008
Steamboat Springs — As an outsider, within the first few hours of being here, I got an uncomfortable sense of unbridled growth without regard for historical conservation or community preservation.
Instead, as I walked down Seventh Street and along Yampa Street, passing Howelsen Place and a TCD development along Fifth Street, I noted no congruency with the surrounding landscape or structures.
I predict what is coming. Over time, the occupants in the $700,000-plus condos will be complaining about the trees along the river blocking their view and the train being too loud and above all else, “the rodeo has got to go.” Quickly, gone from downtown are the small individual shops such as The Steaming Bean, Zing and the small bookstores, to be replaced by a Starbucks on every corner, The Gap and Barnes & Noble.
Certainly my feeling was reinforced as I read two articles in Steamboat Today. The first, “Apartment not up to code” (June 20), was on the unwarranted death of Mr. David Engle. City Council President Loui Antonucci showed an extreme lack of leadership with his response that “illegal secondary units : is one of the ways : cope with lack of affordable housing.” According to Antonucci, Mr. Engle’s death is not sufficient enough to revisit this issue. Wow.
The second article, “A tall order” (June 28), was on the desires of Gamir/Reilly Development to bypass existing codes for building height and proximity to the water. Based on the lack of a firm rejection of GRD’s wishes by the Planning Commission and the amount of building that is going on along the base of the mountain, I can only suppose that GRD will get its way.
Eventually, this small mountain community will be gone, replaced by a bonanza of unsold, gaudy condos (is even the mountain immune from a potential 11-story building?), while the City Council quickly and quietly dismantles all that was charming and great. Eventually, the wealthy clientele – the ones the City Council is so assiduously courting – will look around and see nothing that is unique or different from any other overcrowded planned recreational community. They will move on; unfortunately it will be left to the locals to clean up the mess of a vast swath of underutilized buildings that have destroyed their once-pristine mountain town.
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Julia A. Chapman, MD
Overland Park, Kan.