Kiely: Potential breach of faith

This letter is regarding your editorial “Diamonds and emeralds.”

The beauty of opposing Triple Crown in the Emerald Park is that the Babbitts never change their arguments, so you only have to update yours.

Twenty years ago, the Steamboat youth sports community perceived a need for sports fields dedicated to use by local kids. The group rallied parents, businesses and local government.

Emerald Park was built through a combination of government action, business support and a lot of sweat equity. I safely can say that not a drop of sweat was spent in order to provide commercial operators with a new venue. On the contrary, the fields specifically were constructed as a sanctuary from the omnivorous commercialization of every patch of green in the city.

My opposition to Triple Crown in the park and the machinations of the chamber to make that happen is based on my understanding of what the town’s kids’ sports need. There must be a balance between commercial uses of city property and local use, a balance between the town as a tourist attraction and as a place to live.

The park was built to achieve that balance. I was president of the Little League at the time. Games had to be scheduled at the end of the summer. Any excuse, from Triple Crown events to auto rallies, was used to cancel baseball.

The park was built specifically so the commercial activities associated with the tourist economy would not drive the kids in town to the fringes of the calendar for their sports. Triple Crown attempted to get access to the Emerald fields even before they were finished; they continue the effort each time their contract comes up for renewal — aided and abetted by the chamber and its minions.

The latest ploy relies on the fact that the city is thinking about making a new access to the park. That is certainly a move forward. It is not a reality at this time. Has the deal been made? Has the plan been vetted and money appropriated?

The potential for a new access does not mean that the park should be opened to Triple Crown. Pamela Lane inconveniences were a problem but not the only or the most significant reason commercial operators were banned from the park.

Steamboat Springs has a tourist-driven economy. Facilities need to be made available for use by tourists. The town needs to make a decision about whether to continue to target Triple Crown as the long-term driver of the summer economy. If the decision is made to do so, then the need for facilities needs to be defined and those facilities constructed to accommodate an agreed-upon level of activity.

Twenty years ago, people in the community saw a need, organized a broad group to meet that need, debated and compromised in every possible forum during a period of six years. Fields were built with specific stipulations for their use. The chamber has seen the need for commercial fields for at least that long and done nothing to get them built.

If Triple Crown represents such a cascade of wealth that reneging on long-held commitments is justified to keep them happy, then surely it makes sense to tap into that torrent and invest in some commercial fields. But why invest when you can just take?

My strong conviction is that allowing Triple Crown or any other commercial operator into Emerald is a mistake and a breach of faith with the people who worked so hard to build the fields and the kids they built them for. You speak of economic loss. What about lost integrity?

Jack Kiely

Steamboat Springs

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