John Whittum: Rapid growth in Steamboat
The unprecedented surge of vehicles and pedestrians onto Steamboat’s streets and sidewalks from late June to early September was a result of spending enormous sums to encourage summer visitors. The city just voted to spend another $750,000 for the same purpose next year. We can, thus, expect the summer of 2017 to bring even more congestion, more crowds, more traffic snarls and more grim conditions.
A new mantra has crept into the community psyche: “We must have more and more people.” This beguiling concept affirms we must bring in more and more tourists to cover the cost of running the city. We have to bring in more people to increase the sales tax dollars (despite the acknowledged fact that locals pay 65 percent of that tax). The city is currently devising more and more diversions to satisfy tourist whims in the same way the ski corporation is building more attractions for the same reason. More people means more money. There is never enough. And the rate of increase is constantly being accelerated.
The mantra also implies we must rapidly create more housing. In order to accomplish this goal quickly, the city apparently feels obliged to grant greater variances in the city building codes. For example: (1) The city’s recent approval of the enormous complex designed for 1125 Lincoln Ave. has already been denounced by many prominent citizens. That approval is also subject to a lawsuit claiming the variances granted are excessive. (2) The Brooklyn Bluff development, angrily opposed by the vast majority of Brooklyn residents, will require even more variances.
Swarms of people bring many dollars to the summer resort industry, but why should private enterprises be subsidized by public expenditures, especially when many citizens receive no benefit?
We common people can accept population growth, but can we tolerate an expanding Disneyland manipulated by those whose main interest is in maximizing private profit while degrading the quality of public life and overwhelming the streets and sidewalks of our town?
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