Our view: Oak Creek takes positive steps with potential land purchase | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Oak Creek takes positive steps with potential land purchase

At issue: Oak Creek Town Council voted unanimously to pursue the purchase of a large tract of land west of town where a 4.5-mile trail currently exists Our view: Oak Creek is a small Routt County town making all the right moves Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Hannah Hoffman, community representative • Bob Schneider, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

The town council in Oak Creek voted unanimously last week to pursue the purchase of nearly 200 acres of land to protect public access to a popular hiking trail right at the edge of town. To us, the $1.25 million planned purchase is emblematic of a renaissance for the small south Routt County town.

For 15 years, Russ Garrity has graciously allowed neighbors and the general public to use the trail system he built on his property just west of Oak Creek. The trails have been used for long-distance training, for school field trips and for those looking to get outside and recreate just a few blocks from downtown Oak Creek.

The trail amenity is not dissimilar to the access Steamboat residents have to Spring Creek Trail and Emerald Mountain, just on a little smaller scale.

In our opinion, Oak Creek has been moving in a positive direction ever since Mary Alice Page Allen became the town administrator. She and a group of progressive town council members have worked hard to ensure the town’s future.

Marijuana grow facilities have been successfully integrated into the fabric of the traditional western town, with a resulting increase in employment, sales tax and a payroll that benefits local businesses.

The town is also better prepared for growth than it ever was. South Routt residents and commuters endured some pain in summer 2017 when the town’s main street — Colorado Highway 131 — was torn up to make way for new infrastructure including new water main and service lines to fix a failing system. The $3.5 million project sets the town up for measured growth and prosperity for decades to come.

At the same time, Oak Creek also embarked on a downtown beautification project by leveraging grant monies to construct new sidewalks, curb and gutter and streetlights, which gave the town a much needed facelift.

Thorugh the years, Oak Creek has worked to develop its parks, and we think the $1.25 million it could spend on the Garrity property is worth the investment. To quote Page Allen, the property purchase has “the potential to be a crown jewel for South Routt, and not just the town, but the community as a whole.”

And we couldn’t agree more.

Buying the property ensures that the public has access to this trail, and the size of the tract of land means there’s potential to extend the system and open up more recreational opportunities close to town. We think this increases the town’s appeal as a desirable place to live and preserves open space, which benefits all of Routt County.

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