Our view: The graying of Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: The graying of Steamboat

We ran to the medicine cabinet for a dose of Geritol this week after reading a Feb. 15 article in the Denver Post reporting that Steamboat Springs ranks first in the United States in terms of the population gain among people 65 and older.

Really? Could that be?

Then we realized that the survey compiled by the organization, Demographia, and based on U.S. Census numbers, measured the percentage of inbound gray-hairs relative to the local population.

The Post article reports that Routt County has experienced a rise of almost 80 percent in its senior population compared to the national rate of just over 15 percent during the study period from 2010 to 2016. The population of Routt County in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was 24,130.

According to the study, based on the share of new arrivals who are moving into Steamboat (really Routt County), Steamboat ranked first among 933 communities known to be popular among retirees. And it follows that Edwards/Vail ranked third and Breckenridge, fourth.

The Villages, Florida, an "active adult retirement community, reserved for people 55 and older," ranked second. But the dominance of Colorado ski towns that emerged in the survey points out how the stereotypical retirement destinations are falling to the sidelines as active baby boomers opt for skiing, paddling and hiking in the mountains over boating in the Florida sunshine.

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We have long believed that Steamboat's greatest import is the intellectual capital and professional savvy that come with people who choose to retire here after productive, rewarding careers.

We're proud to say that the lifestyle of Steamboat Springs attracts accomplished people with sufficient resources to retire almost anywhere they choose. That demographic has made life in Steamboat better in numerous ways.

And we think our healthcare and social institutions are prepared to keep pace with a graying population. But active seniors inevitably morph into geriatric patients no matter how hard they hang onto their active outdoor lifestyles. Is Steamboat Springs really prepared to see all of these boomers through their golden years?

We're not so sure that the graying of Steamboat is healthy for the long term.

The median price of a home in Steamboat already tops $1 million, and if we're honest, the rising price of real state in the limits of Steamboat Springs is a threat to the younger generation, which is getting married and hoping to build careers, homes and put toddlers in childcare here.

We have used the newspaper's opinion pages in the past to encourage younger adults to prepare themselves for public office through participation in organizations like Leadership Steamboat and the Young Professionals Network.

The reality is that a new generation of prospective city leaders will not be eligible to run for Steamboat Springs City Council unless they are able to find a home in the city limits. The same is true of other city panels, from the Parks and Rec Commission to Planning Commission.

We can only conclude that as the graying of Steamboat Springs advances, it will become more important than ever to enable measured growth of the city limits designed, in part, to create move-up housing for our young, middle class.

At issue: Is an influx of seniors crowding out a future generation?

Our view: The future of our city depends upon making room for young adults.

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.