Our View: Vote ‘yes’ on Referendum 2A | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Vote ‘yes’ on Referendum 2A

Don't let the confusing ballot language put you off — Referendum 2A offers the promise of continuing the renaissance of Yampa Street and providing more of the world-class bicycling and walking trails that add so much to the quality of life here.

Referendum 2A would repurpose the city's existing 1 percent lodging tax, which has been devoted to retiring the debt on Haymaker Golf Course since 1995. This fall's election marks the first time in all those years that Steamboat voters have had a say in how the money is spent.

If the sight of families and teens swimming in Charlie's Hole on the Yampa River on a late July afternoon appeals to you, Referendum 2A is designed to bring you more of that precious river access in the heart of downtown. And if your business or place of work benefited from the 700 cyclists who came to town for each of the first three annual Steamboat Stinger races on Emerald Mountain, Referendum 2A has the potential to keep those wheels spinning.

Imagine the Yampa River Core Trail extending upstream all the way to Haymaker — 2A provides the funds the community needs to leverage outside grants and make that dream a reality.

Best of all, taxpayers in Steamboat don't pay the tax. The $650,000 to $900,000 the tax can be expected to generate annually in the coming decade is a gift from our many thousands of visitors who check into local hotels and condominiums. It's not a new tax, and it's not a tax increase.

It strikes us that recent documentation of the significant amount of bicycle traffic that travels the five or six blocks of Yampa Street is confirmation that, no matter how tortuous the decision-making process was, Steamboat Springs City Council's joining of the Yampa Street and trails initiatives has turned out for the best. Yampa Street is the beginning and end of some of the best outings in Steamboat.

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Why does Steamboat need more mountain biking trails? The very successful Honey Stinger event is a case in point. More specifically, it is the recently completed 6-mile Beall Trail, built at a cost of $33,000, that has made a big difference for the race.

Referendum 2A proponent Doug Davis explained to us how the Beall Trail linked two other trails needed to make the Honey Stinger race work. And that's one of the priorities for the trails group going forward.

"We're not just adding trails piecemeal," Davis said. "The bulk of these trails build networks instead of trails to nowhere."

How many historic Western downtowns have a healthy river running out the back door? And how beneficial would it be if the acquisition of a small parcel of land was transformed into a new pocket park on the river? Proponent Mark Scully said the Seventh Street parcel offers the prospect of a new pedestrian bridge over the river strengthening the link to recreation and parking on the other side. We think he is correct. If the community desires the parcel at Seventh Street, now is the time to bring it into the public domain before it is acquired by someone else.

We've heard detractors say that private landowners and developers stand to gain the most from the revitalization of Yampa Street. We would respond by saying that if investing lodging tax dollars already devoted to tourism resulted in stimulating the private sector to create a pedestrian-oriented residential project on the east end of Yampa Street, it only could add more life to downtown without adding automobile traffic. And that, too, is a desirable outcome.

We urge you to vote "yes" on Referendum 2A.

At issue

How to spend lodging tax revenue

Our view

Vote “yes” to support expanded bike trails and the Yampa Street park project.

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