Census estimates show growth in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Census estimates show growth in Steamboat

Routt County population increases, but towns’ changes mixed

Jack Weinstein

A crew works on paving a road Wednesday in the Longview Highlands subdivision off Hilltop Parkway. Census estimates indicate that Steamboat's population increased more than 2,300 from 2000 to 2009
Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Springs' population increased more than 2,300 residents, or 24 percent, from 2000 to 2009, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The census figures indicated that Steamboat had 12,180 residents as of July 1, 2009. The increase from 2008, 215 residents, or 1.8 percent, follows a trend of consistent modest growth in Steamboat since the 2000 census that showed 9,815 residents.

Jonathan Spence, Steam­boat's interim planning director, said the city conducts its own population study annually that it compares with state demographers so each can verify numbers. For example, he said the state revised its population figures for Steamboat in 2008.

Spence said the city uses its population study in conjunction with the census estimates for planning purposes, such as development of the Community Area Plan and the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

"We look at those numbers for providing services, such as essential services — water, sewer and emergency services," he said.

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In addition, he said the city's planning department is working on an inventory analysis to evaluate what residential construction is possible on vacant and unused parcels in city limits. He said that analysis and population figures help Steamboat plan for the future.

According to the census figures, Routt County also grew, from 19,690 as of the 2000 census to the July 1, 2009, estimate of 23,469. That's a difference of 3,779 residents, or more than 19 percent.

Other Routt County towns saw different changes in population. Hayden's population has fluctuated since the decade began, and the town's 2009 estimate increased 39 residents to 1,673 since the 2000 census. Oak Creek's population increased six residents to 855 during that time, and Yampa had 442 residents as of the 2009 estimate, one fewer than was recorded in the 2000 census.

Because Phippsburg and Milner are unincorporated areas of the county, population estimates weren't available.

Moffat County's population increased last year to 13,184 residents, 796 residents more than the 2000 census, a 6 percent increase. It has increased slightly each year since 2006.

In Craig, the 2009 estimate indicated that the city has 9,301 residents, up 112 from 9,189 in 2000, a 1.2 percent increase. Dinosaur, the only other incorporated city or town in the county, grew to 338 residents last year, up 19, or nearly 6 percent, from the 2000 census.

Jared Ewy, a spokesman with the Denver Regional Census Center in Lakewood, said Colo­rado's resort towns and vacation-destination cities present challenges for the Census Bureau because of the high number of seasonal workers and second-home owners. He said the Denver office received many phone calls during the 2010 census count about where people should fill out their forms. Ewy said there's a simple answer.

"We count people where they're living or sleeping," he said.

Ewy couldn't speak to the accuracy of the 2009 estimate but said it was basically an update of the 2000 census that included adding births, subtracting deaths and adding net migration.

Colorado's population in­­­creased by more than 723,000 people, 16.8 percent, to more than 5 million since the 2000 census, according to the 2009 estimate.

Grand Junction census office manager Kathleen DuHamel told the Steamboat Pilot & Today last week that work on the 2010 census was wrapping up in Northwest Colorado. The Census Bureau plans to release data from the 2010 census April 1.