Our View: Goals for the New Year | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Goals for the New Year

Tonight, we welcome a new year. May it be as blessed as the one ending.

In Steamboat Springs, we have good cause to be thankful. In 2006, we enjoyed tremendous snowfall, which fueled a good year at our ski area. Sales tax revenues, which pay for so much of our public amenities and services, are showing double-digit growth over a strong 2005. Our downtown is undergoing a significant redevelopment. The ski area has a deal with a buyer known for investing in its resorts, and private investment in the base area is fueling changes not seen in years.

Our public schools ranked among the best in the state and are getting much-needed facility investments. Our airport is undergoing major improvements and has more flight options than ever. We’re getting a new library, and we have added restaurants, stores and movie theater screens.

Still, there remains much to be done. With that in mind, we offer resolutions we hope to see in 2007:

– A more cohesive and workable affordable housing strategy. Flaws were exposed in the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance this year, particularly as it applies to payments in lieu of building affordable housing on site. That, coupled with the absence of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority in the discussion, stalled meaningful progress on the affordable housing front. The city needs to tweak its ordinance so that it works as a catalyst for, not an obstacle to, the development of workforce housing, and the Housing Authority should be at the table, advocating for funds to encourage the development of such housing.

– Development of a community recreation center ballot proposal. The group working to develop this proposal must bring forward a plan that meets the broadest community need, and plans for a recreation center should be developed independent of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association’s future plans.

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– Completion of the sale of the Steamboat Ski Area from undercapitalized American Skiing Co. to well-capitalized Intrawest. The last time ASC had a deal in place, it pulled the plug at closing. We don’t expect that to happen this time around. Still, we’ll feel better when the ink is dry on the transaction.

– Finalization of plans for new athletic fields that Triple Crown can use. We believe Triple Crown is a critical component of our summer economy, and that new fields are key to keeping the sports tournament organization coming back to the Yampa Valley well into the future.

– A better downtown parking plan. Six major developments that include retail and housing are in the works between Third and 13th Streets, and the city is putting a community center at its only parking alternative – the Multimodal Transit Center. It is time for Main Street Steamboat and the city to have serious discussions about a downtown parking garage before it’s too late.

– Patience and sacrifice at Soda Creek Elementary. Voters overwhelmingly wanted the new Soda Creek Elementary School to be built on site. That means that Soda Creek students, parents and staff are facing a couple years in less-than-ideal circumstances. That begins in the fall, when Soda Creek starts school in portable buildings on the George P. Sauer Human Services campus.

Finally, we wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.