Our View: Hayden is on the rise | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Hayden is on the rise

At issue: Hayden should embrace the potential for growth

Our view:  The news that the Hayden School District  will be able to build a new $61 million school campus could have lasting implications for growth patterns in the Yampa Valley.

Editorial Board • Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Tom Ross, reporter

• Alice Klauzer, community representative

• Cameron Hawkins, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com.

The news this month that the Hayden School District was awarded a $38.8 million Colorado Department of Education “Best Grant” to help it build a new 21-century, $61 million school campus has the potential to reshape growth trends in the Yampa Valley.

We think Hayden school board member Medora Fralick was accurate in predicting that when built, the new schools will attract more young families to move to the historic town of about 1,800 residents, located on U.S. Highway 40, 28 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

Hayden is a traditional Western small town with an agricultural heritage that has relied on energy production for its tax base for decades. It’s important for us to acknowledge that there may be a significant number of longtime Hayden residents who don’t want to see the community undergo significant change. It’s not for us to tell them what to think, but we will say, in our experience, communities that aren’t able to adapt to change are at risk of declining.

Hayden has also relied indirectly for about three decades on tourism: Yampa Valley Regional Airport, within the town limits attracts more than 80,000 passengers annually in winter alone, driving significant employment and tax revenues for the town.

Now, with housing costs rising rapidly and supply dwindling at a similar pace in Steamboat Springs, the Yampa Valley may have reached the tipping point where down-valley growth becomes the predominant growth pattern in the valley.

We are quick to acknowledge that everyone who lived here years ago is painfully acquainted with the reality that the real estate industry is cyclical, and bubbles can burst. The ultimate fate of proposed Brynn Grey neighborhoods in West Steamboat Springs could have much to do with any down-valley growth.

Many of the new residents that Fralick foresees coming to Hayden would most likely gravitate to the existing Dry Creek Village and Lake Village subdivisions that floundered in the Great Recession. The good news is that infrastructure for those subdivisions to the east and south side of historic Hayden was completed, and they are already seeing new single-family housing starts with sales at prices lower than $400,000.

Fralick, who has a background in real estate, emphatically made the observation that the quality of community of schools is a prime economic driver for their ability to attract families who want the best for their children.

“Businesses need that because the more families that move in, the more we can support the businesses,” Fralick told Steamboat Pilot & Today.

We agree that healthy businesses are integral to healthy communities. That said, we think one of the pressing reasons for building new schools in Hayden is the fact that the current combined middle and high schools have 19 different entrances.

It’s a condition that makes maintaining school security a challenge.

Finally, we have to say that Hayden is fortunate to have such forward-looking school board members, including President Brian Hosa; Tim Frentress, Sr.; Tammie Delaney; Kevin Lind and Fralick. They have been working on this project for a long while.

Similarly, we are impressed with the effectiveness of School Superintendent Christy Sinner, who just came to the district in summer 2017. She had the foresight to prepare for the awarding of the Best Grant in advance, to allow the school district to capitalize on the opportunity as soon as possible.

We’re eager to see how the town of Hayden evolves.

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