Rob Douglas: Is this downtown Steamboat or downtown Newark? |

Rob Douglas: Is this downtown Steamboat or downtown Newark?

Rob Douglas

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email

It’s long past time somebody says out loud to Monument Oil – and the Brown clan of Grand Junction that runs Monument – what we’ve all been whispering for months.

So here goes.

The abandoned Go-Fer Foods convenience store and gas station at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue – better known to locals as the Space Station – has become an eyesore more befitting downtown Newark, N.J., than downtown Steamboat Springs. What’s more, the failure of Monument Oil to maintain their property in the heart of our downtown is a sorry example of corporate citizenship.

The corner of Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street is one of Steamboat’s primary intersections. With the fast-approaching completion of Howelson Place as a downtown anchor, and the imminent arrival of skiers from around the world, Seventh and Lincoln will be a hub of activity.

This year, the number of tourists spending time downtown is likely to increase given the dwindling number of options at the base of Steamboat Ski Area during reconstruction. Unfortunately, as our winter guests arrive they’ll be treated to what our summer friends had the “pleasure” of viewing this year – a weed- and trash-strewn lot surrounded by a chain-link fence only a prison guard could love.

Did I mention it has the look of an abandoned lot in Newark?

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Unfortunately, I know from first-hand experience what Newark looks like, and it’s not a look I’m fond of. More importantly, it’s not a look anyone in Steamboat is fond of, and everyone I know is tired of having to look at ‘Monument’s Mess’ smack dab in the center of one of the most beautiful communities in the world.

It’s gotten to the point where many of us pass by the Space Station and – because it’s human nature to become accustomed to what we see every day – no longer notice what a dump it’s become. We block it out of our mind’s eye.

So, yesterday morning, during my 7 a.m. run to Steaming Bean for coffee and newspapers, I decided to look at the Space Station lot as if I’d never seen it before. In other words, I looked at it as a tourist sees it.

What I saw wasn’t pretty.

A dumped couch; a large industrial drum marked “flammable” sitting a foot or two from the wooden fence separating the Space Station lot and the exterior wall of the Rio Grande, the wooden fence falling apart, a pile of broken blacktop, weeds in the planter adjacent to the corner, weeds growing out of the cracks and seams in the pavement throughout the lot, weeds in front of the main entrance doors, weeds – a ton of them – and trash by the former entrance to Pisa’s Pizza, and the gas price sign at the corner evidencing signs of vandalism.

And, of course, there’s the chain-link fence used to keep cars off the lot.

In short, the place is one ugly, fenced-off pigsty.

Now, it’s quite possible this is a case where out of sight means out of mind. To wit, since the Go-Fer lot is out of Monument Oil’s sight, it’s out of their minds. But, someone needs to let Monument know their mess is in our sights and on our minds.

The real tragedy is that this blight on our downtown business corridor could easily be cleaned up, if only the Browns and Monument Oil cared enough about their reputation in our community to do so.

The couch, blacktop pile, industrial drum, trash and weeds could be removed by two workers in one afternoon. The gas price sign that is attracting vandalism also is easily removed, and the wooden fence needs a few nails to get it back in shape. A very small amount of effort would go a long way to cleaning up the lot.

That leaves the fence which, from what I hear, bothers folks as much as the condition of the lot.

For a relatively small amount of money – methinks a pittance for a corporation that operates more than a dozen Go-Fer stores in Colorado – the fence could be replaced with wooden or concrete planters. These types of barriers are used all over the country to cordon off areas from vehicles while adding some aesthetic value to the look of a property.

What say you, Monument Oil?

How about taking responsibility for your mess in our community?

I guarantee we’d appreciate it, and your corporate image might lose the tarnish it’s garnered in our fair city.

– To reach Rob Douglas, email