Longtime Steamboat resident and former City Council President Brown retires
July 6, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Simply put, Mary Brown is looking forward to not having to drive to Denver for work Monday.
That's because Brown, a 45-year staple of the Steamboat Springs community, is set to retire. It's the third time she's "threatened retirement," she joked, but she's hoping this time, she maybe can make it the real deal.
For the past three years, Brown has served as the director of external affairs for Quality Health Network, a Grand Junction-based nonprofit designed to improve health care information, technology and services for western Colorado.
Since 2011, Brown's job hasn't required her to be in the Grand Junction offices, but rather to work on QHN's behalf with state and federal agencies remotely from Steamboat — and on the road.
Travel from Steamboat through the mountains to the state offices in Denver or to catch a flight to Washington, D.C., has kept Brown from enjoying some of the simpler things in life, she said, such as cruising around on her bike.
And in retirement, Brown most definitely will ride over some of the stretches of concrete that have been so crucial to Steamboat recreationists along the Yampa River Core Trail, which was constructed under her watch on the Steamboat City Council in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
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But as successful and widely used as the Core Trail is today, its construction was a hotly contested decision more than two decades ago — one of many significant changes during Brown's tenure as a council member from 1987 to 1995, including her role as council president from 1989 to 1993.
"It was more controversial than most people would think today," Brown said. "When we built the Core Trail, we paid for it with sales tax revenue bonds, and we put together a package that included improvements to the rodeo grounds, improvements to the ski jumps and the Core Trail. Although not required at the time, we put that question to a vote to the people, and it passed by about 51 percent to 49 percent."
It was one of a few landmark decisions that still can be seen in the modern Yampa Valley.
During her tenure, the council also passed the construction of the Steamboat Springs Airport terminal, which serves a much different purpose today in housing the SmartWool headquarters at Airport Circle.
Land development was on a steady rise, especially near the base of Steamboat Ski Area. It also was during this time that the ski area was sold by a group primarily made up of Denver investors to a Japanese company, Kamori Kanko.
In the early 1990s, the council with Brown also saw the re-proposal of the Catamount Ski Area, which became dormant a short time later.
"There was a lot going on, now that I can reflect," Brown said.
But with those days now decades behind her, Brown said her newfound retirement will be welcomed with open arms and an open schedule for the first time in a long time.
Brown and her husband have travel plans throughout the next three months — and not the kind that involve work, though they haven't quite nailed down their final vacation destinations.
And as a now three-time retiree, Brown said come November, maybe she'll explore some work options, but for now, the stay-at-home life is sounding pretty good.
"I'm kind of looking forward to a schedule that allows me to stay home rather than travel three or four days a week," Brown said. "I'm not sure what the next chapter will be."