Deb Babcock: Steamboat council should look at tourism impacts
July 31, 2017
As a business owner who relies, in part, on tourist traffic for sales in my pottery shop, I want to weigh in on the growing sentiment among many locals who are dismayed at the constant stream of traffic into our small town.
Like many of our local citizens, I moved here because of the charm and beauty of this area. I didn't come here to make more and more money and work more and more hours to accommodate the growing number of guests visiting our town. I'm guessing that is true for many people who live here.
Unfortunately, both the charm and the beauty of Steamboat Springs are under siege by the overwhelming number of tourists in town – a self-inflicted wound caused by constant addition of fairs, festivals, sporting competitions and events designed to draw more and more people here. Our infrastructure is being strained, our beautiful rivers sullied, and the sounds and sights under constant assault by more people than the hiking and riding trails, roads, rivers, lakes and businesses can handle adequately.
I think we need to step back and reassess how much tourism is enough and how we can improve our infrastructure to better accommodate both locals who support this town year-round and tourists who come here for a few days of fun and relaxation made possible by the friendly, helpful people who live and work here.
Please consider setting up a committee comprised of residents in our town to look at what we need to support our economy while maintaining the ambiance of the town that initially attracted us. Consider a group consisting of business owners (not just tourist-related), retirees, telecommuters who work out of their homes, moms and dads with young children, college-age or young professionals, renters, homeowners – in short, a good mix of people who make up our community.
Ask them to look at the impact of tourism on all aspects of life here (traffic, parks, rivers, trails, bike paths, noise, etc.) and come up with a recommendation on 1) an optimal number of visitors we can handle and 2) ways to deal with the issues caused by the influx of visitors.
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In short, look at how to balance our economic needs with our desire to keep the town an attractive place to live, play and visit. This may include looking at better enforcement of existing regulations on road, river and trail traffic, funding for repair and maintenance of existing parks, streets, and venues, and other questions the committee might want to address.
As Edward Abbey said, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."
Blue Sky Pottery