Melissa VanArsdale: Stop venting about tourism
August 3, 2017
This letter is in response to the vile letters to the editor that have surfaced in recent days singling out tourism as being detrimental to our community.
First, the distastefulness of selecting to vent publicly via newsprint letters and supporting responses has placed the burden on many of us to apologize to our visitors that this is not the true essence of Steamboat.
Historically, Steamboat has always been a very friendly and inviting community. Take for instance the Crawford and Werner families who had opened their homes to visitors. And to this day, people comment on our friendliness.
If anyone feels discrepancies about the direction of our community, then it would be best to attend meetings to share concerns and brainstorm ideas for positive growth.
Second, the congestion we're experiencing is not tourism alone. The events attract visitors and locals alike. Most every event from free concerts to Wild West Air Fest to sporting tournaments are enjoyed by both locals and visitors.
Also, Steamboat is growing. In 1990, the population census reported over 5,000 residents. Today that number is over 12,000 with 24,000 in Routt County. There has been some progress in trying to alleviate the impact, such as making both Oak and Yampa streets more user friendly with sidewalks and bike lanes, extending the core trail, lodging properties offering free shuttles, city transportation providing free bus service and CDOT's work on U.S. Highway 40 west of town.
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Also, if Steamboat is growing then obviously many of us came from elsewhere. When did you first visit the area? What tempted you to move here? And for those born here, how many generations removed are you from your family settling here?
So why now isolate ourselves by not welcoming others to visit or become part of our community? In addition, many guests are family members or friends visiting locals. We all take pride in our community by tailoring their visit so they may experience the best of Steamboat.
Please show them the same respect as you would expect for your guests. And yes, we should "take a step back…" but not to deter tourism. Instead, step back to what attracts you to Steamboat; step back to find alternative modes of transportation; step back to greet our visitors and share points of interest with them; step back to our historical roots that have made what Steamboat is what it is today.
Steamboat is a friendly, close knit community nestled in the beautiful Yampa Valley. Let's not jeopardize the essence of who we are with vile letters.