Our view: A hard act to follow | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: A hard act to follow

At issue: Longtime Mainstreet Steamboat Springs manager Tracy Barnett will be leaving her post

Our view: Barnett’s replacement must be an innovator, a collaborator and a passionate advocate for downtown Steamboat

After 10 years on the job, Tracy Barnett has announced she’ll be stepping down as manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs this summer.

Our view: Barnett’s replacement must be an innovator, a collaborator and a passionate advocate for downtown Steamboat

She has graciously offered to stay on part-time during the transition to help train her successor, which will allow the new manager to gain valuable insight into the program, which under Barnett’s leadership has helped spearhead a long list of downtown improvements.

During Barnett’s tenure, MainStreet has accomplished much, including streetscaping improvements along Lincoln Avenue, implementation of a number of successful community festivals and events that bring people downtown to shop and eat and expansion of the downtown brand to include a revitalized Yampa Street restaurant and entertainment district.

One of Barnett’s most recent accomplishments was successfully moving the farmers market from its location next to the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue to its new space at the corner of Seventh and Yampa streets. The move was an unquestionable success and has served to give locals and visitors alike a reason to gather downtown on Saturday mornings in the summer.

As a former small business owner herself, Barnett has been effective at communicating with downtown business owners and building consensus. She has also been very good at collaborating with other organizations and government entities to get important projects completed.

Construction of the uniquely designed bus shelters along Lincoln Avenue are a good example of that. For this project, Barnett, representing Mainstreet, worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the city of Steamboat Springs to get it done. The success of the project was two-fold — it put local workers and artisans to work during the economic downturn and it resulted in new bus stops that added to the attractiveness, appeal and individuality of downtown Steamboat.

Barnett leaves big shoes to fill but we’re optimistic a good candidate to replace her will surface. And we’re hopeful it will be someone who is passionate about downtown revitalization and who can bring new ideas to the table. With a change of leadership comes the opportunity to view the challenges and goals of an organization with fresh eyes.

In speaking with Barnett about the qualities she is looking for in a new Mainstreet Steamboat manager, she said a solid knowledge of Steamboat Springs is essential. The person doesn’t necessarily have to be living in Steamboat Springs but they must be familiar with the community and know how it functions.

“It has to be someone who has a passion for Steamboat,” Barnett said.

An innovative thinker, a consensus builder, an initiator and someone who has high energy and engages easily with others in the community are other attributes we think the right candidate needs to possess in order to succeed at the helm of Steamboat’s MainStreet organization. And these are attributes that Barnett also agrees are important.

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and enhancement of downtown Steamboat Spring, Mainstreet operates on a tight budget with limited funding, and it’s imperative the new leader be able to work closely with the Mainstreet board and other groups within the community, including the city and the Chamber, to affect change in downtown.

With more empty storefronts popping up along Lincoln, we think the new Mainstreet leader must look for inventive ways to partner with local and state economic development groups to assess the retail market in Steamboat and devise a plan for recruiting and retaining retail businesses downtown. We realize this is no easy task but we think a healthy and appealing downtown retail shopping district is a key tourism driver and should be part of any downtown improvement plan championed by Mainstreet, the Chamber and the city.

We strongly believe there’s value in maintaining a strong and vibrant downtown, and we think the MainStreet Steamboat program is a big part of that endeavor. Finding the right person to takeover as the face of downtown will be important to ensuring the continued success of the Mainstreet program, which in turn impacts the entire Steamboat community.

And at this time when leadership of the organization is poised for change, we want to take this opportunity to thank Barnett for her tireless efforts on behalf of downtown and for her endless passion for Steamboat. Her hard work paid off, and we join her in celebrating Mainstreet’s many successes over the last decade.

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