Our view: Howelsen heralded as Steamboat’s heart | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Howelsen heralded as Steamboat’s heart







For more than three hours last Tuesday night, Steamboat Springs community members came together to speak to City Council about the history of Howelsen Hill, the role it plays in setting Steamboat apart from other ski towns and the potential to expand its reach by upgrading the amenities and programs offered there.

At issue:

The city hosted a work session to discuss the community's vision for Howelsen Hill, and more than 150 people turned out to offer their suggestions.

Our view:

The outpouring of support for Howelsen witnessed at last week's meeting put to rest any thoughts that the historic hill is not worth the city's investment in it.

A standing-room-only crowd filled Centennial Hall, and we believe the testimony and ideas these community members shared about Howelsen's value to Steamboat and their vision for its future put to rest any belief that city leaders would ever be allowed to let Steamboat's "rare jewel" lose its luster.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Director Jim Boyne summed up the impact of the meeting very well when he said, "We went from using words (such as) subsidizing and problems to talking about investment."

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A huge cross section of the community, including second-home owners, young families, Winter Sports Club athletes and alumni, business owners, retirees and former Olympians, let City Council know loud and clear that citizens expect the city to come up with a plan to maintain Howelsen's current assets and to look for ways to expand its amenities to increase use.

The 50 or so community members who spoke also proved to city leaders that there's no shortage of creative ideas for Howelsen's future or volunteers willing to step up and help make some of those dreams a reality.

People's visions for the hill were both practical and far-reaching. Some advocated for more beginner trails for skiing and mountain biking while others talked about opening a restaurant or bar in Olympian Hall, building an international youth hostel near the base of the hill and offering more free ski days, which were well received by the public this winter.

After three hours of listening to their constituents, council members thanked those who attended for their input and announced that a series of meetings aimed at fine-tuning the vision for Howelsen would be held in the near future.

As we've editorialized in the past, Howelsen is a unique community asset that has contributed greatly to the character of Steamboat Springs, and it's definitely worth preserving. It's also worth noting that Howelsen is more than just the ski hill. It's a hub of activity where people can ice skate, fat bike, skate ski and tube in the winter, and a venue for ball games, the rodeo, tennis, mountain biking, pickleball, Alpine sliding and hiking in the summer. It's also home to the Winter Sports Club, which can be credited with keeping hundreds of our local young people active and busy throughout the year.

We think the work session the council hosted last week was a constructive one, and we believe it will serve as the catalyst for a larger discussion on the need to adopt a strategic master plan for the operation of Howelsen Hill and then the next step of agreeing on a funding mechanism to pay for it.

At issue:

The city hosted a work session to discuss the community’s vision for Howelsen Hill, and more than 150 people turned out to offer their suggestions.

Our view:

The outpouring of support for Howelsen witnessed at last week’s meeting put to rest any thoughts that the historic hill is not worth the city’s investment in it.