Pete Wither: Airline program is ‘linchpin’ of Steamboat economy
As a third generation Steamboat Springs local, I want to urge Steamboat voters to vote “yes” on Referendum 2A.
I’ve lived in Steamboat most of my life, and Barbi and I have lived here together for 50 years. We both were fixtures at the Steamboat Ski Resort for several decades.
Barbi was hired by Skeeter Werner and later became a supervisor at the ski school for 37 years. I was on the Ski Patrol for over 30 years and was the director for 15 years.
From trains to planes, creating more convenient ways of getting in and out of our valley has been the linchpin of our Steamboat economy for decades.
Back when my grandfather was the mayor of Steamboat, a 57-mile wagon ride from Steamboat to Bond took over three days. In his day, having the railroad come to the valley not only created significantly more economic opportunities for Steamboat but also gave locals much easier options for traveling to other areas.
In the ’80s, we were faced with a similar accessibility and economic conundrum. I served on the City Council when Martin Hart first conceived of the direct flight airline program. At that time, the City Council worked in partnership with the ski resort, the airport and the county commissioners to make Steamboat more accessible and, in turn, more economically viable.
Just like the railroad in its time, the airline program was a revolutionary solution to the tough times that Steamboat was facing, that of accessibility for both locals and tourists. The airline program was also the beginning of what has been a very successful 32-year public-private partnership. The results of which are the envy of many of our competitors.
If there’s anything to be learned from the many economic booms and busts we’ve been through, it’s that being in a more robust economic position does not mean it’s time to be complacent or limit our accessibility.
Referendum 2A will help us sustain what has evolved into an enviable and innovative airline program and ensure that economic opportunities exist for generations of Steamboat locals to come, including my grandchildren who are also growing up in Steamboat.
Please join me in saying yes to Referendum 2A.
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The divisions we are seeing across the country seem to be affecting us here in Routt County, and it has to stop. We have a common enemy, COVID-19. At the moment, the virus is winning.