Our View: Things to accomplish in 2020
On Sunday, Steamboat Pilot & Today published its annual “Year in Review” publication featuring the top news stories of 2019 and reflecting on the previous year. Now, as we start a new decade, we would like to switch gears, look ahead and list some of the issues and challenges we’d like to see community members and leaders address in 2020. Here goes …
• Civil discourse: We expect the 2020 presidential election to get contentious, but we are appealing to area residents to keep things classy on the local level. It’s obvious our country is grappling with some deeply divisive issues, and social media seems to be magnifying the polarity. In a world rife with rancor and conflict, it’s easy to feel discouraged, but why not focus on getting involved with grassroots change? Campaign for your favorite local candidate, go door to door in support of a ballot issue you feel passionate about, run for local office, volunteer with a nonprofit, respectfully agree to disagree and above all, remain open-minded, stay hopeful and keep away from things that divide us.
• Transparency: One of the most important roles of the local newspaper is to serve as a watchdog of the government. So with that intent in mind, we encourage our elected officials to commit themselves to conducting government business as transparently as possible, abiding by Colorado’s open records laws and communicating openly and honestly with constituents and members of the media.
• Bears and trash: Bear encounters involving trash are becoming all too common, and we believe unsecured trash is the issue. Steamboat Springs City Council has made overtures indicating it is open to adopting a stricter city trash ordinance, and we strongly encourage council to make that happen in 2020 for the public, and for the bears.
• West Steamboat Neighborhoods: Despite some setbacks and missed deadlines, we encourage City Council to move forward with the annexation of West Steamboat Neighborhoods. After years of discussions, negotiations and a public vote that received 60% approval from local voters, it’s time to make sure this project happens. Housing is one of the major challenges facing our community, and while this one project won’t solve all the problems, it’s a good start toward providing some much-needed attainable housing for locals.
• Social issues: Even though we live in a beautiful mountain resort community, it’s not paradise, and we’re faced with many of the same societal issues that plague other cities and towns — suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse, opioid addiction and child abuse. Over the years, there have been successful efforts to shine a light on these subjects, like last summer’s In Our Shoes series about sexual assault or the Rx Task Force’s lunch-and-learn events focused on prescription drug abuse. But we must remain vigilant to make sure these topics are not pushed into the darkness again and forgotten. It’s important we continue to report on these tough subjects, and we also encourage community members to get involved or donate to the numerous organizations that exist in our community to combat these issues, like REPS, Advocates of Routt County, Grand Futures and Sk8 Church, to name just a few.
At issue: The new year has begun, and it’s time to stop looking in the rearview mirror and begin to focus on 2020.
Our view: Here’s our list of issues that we think deserve the community’s focus in the coming year.
• High school culture: Parents came forward near the end of 2019 to speak out about a negative culture they claim exists at Steamboat Springs High School under which female students were not being heard or protected amid allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. The allegations were serious and we were encouraged to learn the Steamboat Springs School District will be hiring an independent firm to investigate and help address the issues while working closely with Advocates of Routt County. The newspaper intends to continue reporting on the investigation, and we hope the district remains on its current path of addressing the issues head on.
• Growth: Steamboat Springs and Routt County are growing whether we like it or not. The county’s population was 25,733 in 2018 and is expected to grow 60%, to about 42,000 people, by 2050, according to the Colorado State Demography Office. The shoulder seasons are getting shorter, and tourism is almost a year-round pursuit these days. We don’t believe it’s smart to fight growth, but we do think growth can be properly managed by keeping water supply, traffic and transportation issues top of mind. This needs to be a priority for our local leaders, and locals also need to accept the fact that until we change our tax structure, Steamboat is dependent on visitors to help provide the sales tax we depend on to provide the core services we all enjoy.
• On the radar: In addition, there are several other issues that deserve the community’s attention in 2020. These include the high cost of childcare, regional transportation, workforce housing, climate action and diversity.
This community has dealt with many challenges in the past, and we are confident, that collectively, we’ll find ways to continue our forward progress.
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