Our View: ‘Barn raising’ about more than preservation
At issue: Steamboat City Council voted to use Urban Renewal Authority funds to restore the historic Arnold Barn on a prominent site closer to ski area base.
Our view: The 1928 Arnold Barn is worthy of historic preservation, but this project goes beyond that.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 Arnold Barn, located not far from the current ski base at Mount Werner, now sits in disrepair at the edge of a remote parking lot for skiers. But in its day, it was an example of how early 20th century families supported themselves in the Yampa Valley.
We fully endorse restoring the barn on that basis alone, but it’s important for residents of the city of Steamboat Springs to understand that City Council’s 4-3 vote Nov. 5 to approve the expenditure of $441,000 in Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee, or URAAC, monies to restore the barn and move it to the intersection of Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle will also serve another purpose.
The URA monies are meant to enhance public infrastructure at the base of the resort, and by doing so, strengthen one of our biggest revenue generators. Failure to invest in the competitiveness of that asset in a city with no municipal property tax could be considered unwise.
The URAAC has invested many months of effort in acquiring permissions to move the barn to the base of a grassy hillside on the west side of The Steamboat Grand. It’s at that site that the restored Arnold Barn could enjoy new prominence by providing guests with a profound sense of arrival at the resort that also reinforces Steamboat’s western brand.
If that strikes you as frivolous, you may have missed Steamboat Today’s coverage of a presentation to URAAC in autumn 2016 by principles from the Denver consulting firm BrightView Design Group. The company has advised numerous resorts on how best to help arriving guests find their way to accommodations and attractions as easily as possible, and how to make an all-important positive first impression.
The findings of BrightView principle Brent Lloyd included the following.
• The need for a consistent series of elements to reinforce the way-finding experience is missing from the main corridor leading to Steamboat Ski Area.
• Generally, Mount Werner Road and related connecting roadways do not have a definitive moment of arrival.
• The arrival experience should reflect upon the community character, heritage and environment. Opportunities to express these aspects, such as restoring the Arnold Barn, present opportunities to provide a stronger connection to the local community as part of the arrival.
Steamboat residents have grown accustomed to living in a “tourist town,” and some locals thought summer 2017 was evidence of too much success in that sector. We are not dismissive of those concerns, but with that said, we predict something we can all agree upon is that we must protect the remaining vestiges of authenticity that remain in our community.
The long-neglected Arnold Barn is a perfect example that Steamboat is still a real Western town. It’s a landmark that is organic to our community, and precious little of that remains at the foot of the ski mountain.
Preserving the barn and its family history, brought to light this year by Steamboat Today reporter Scott Franz, is the ideal way to elevate the sense of arrival for guests destined for a genuine Western town as they approach the resort base.
It would have been a shame to pass up on this opportunity.
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