George Hresko: Vision 2030
January 17, 2010
During the next weeks, Steamboat Springs voters will see a range of information for and against the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation. We can expect that both sides will give us a large dose in favor of their points of view. Also, the city should provide voters with a factual synopsis of the agreements for the annexation and development. The vote is one of the most important in many years, and we should have an appropriate basis on which to decide.
I am not writing for the purpose of supporting or opposing the annexation. Rather, I would like to propose that all those providing information do so in a broad context — that of the findings of Vision 2030. Why? First, I am certain we have our personal interests, and these are not easily put aside unless we are provided overarching criteria for doing so. Second, I would like to see a high level of participation in so important an election, and further, I would like to see the personal attacks minimized. What do I mean? Simply that to disparage a point of view by tying it to one who is "last over the pass" or who is labeled "a no-growther" or "in the developers' pockets" is, if not irrelevant, at least not helpful. Such personal attacks are harmful to our community character. I think setting a context such as Vision 2030 for the arguments about Steamboat 700 will go a long way to reduce irrelevant and personal attacks and improve voter turnout.
What to look for when evaluating pro and con arguments? At a minimum, arguments must be relevant. For example, when evaluating the quality of a haircut, we do not look at the amount of hair on the shop floor. How arguments tie to current regulations and ordinances, as well as to the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan, are relevant and necessary but insufficient.
What does a sufficient argument look like? When we judge the quality of trash collection, for example, we look not only what was picked up, but what was left behind. It's not sufficient to say that 98 percent of the trash was removed.
Here is my suggestion: Use the Vision 2030 report for evaluating arguments made by the various constituencies. Why? First, because the Vision 2030 time frame is congruent with that which Steamboat 700 will affect our community. The questions we asked were about expectations in 2030. Second, because a very large number of people responded to Vision 2030, and there was a very high degree of agreement in their responses. This was true across the geographic areas of Yampa Valley, age groups and economic criteria. This means that we, the community members, came here and remain here, largely for the same reasons, and we basically have the same desires for the future of the Yampa Valley. In Vision 2030, this desire boiled down to preserving community character. We want to retain the small-town feel, friendliness, Western heritage and open space — just to name a few — as we grow.
So as I read the statements from groups proposing and opposing Steamboat 700 annexation, and theoretically disinterested parties, I will ask myself, are they addressing the issues raised in Vision 2030? Are they demonstrating that they will best steward our community character? Are their arguments relevant and sufficient?
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I suggest that voters reread the Vision 2030 final report and base their votes on it and the answers they hear from the pro and con parties.