Alissa Merage: Alpine coaster vs. peace and beauty |

Alissa Merage: Alpine coaster vs. peace and beauty

We are blessed to live in one of the most picturesque and serene places on earth, abundant in open space and unscathed beauty. This combination is rare these days, and my husband and I moved our three children here so we could revel in it once again. Having lived in Southern California for a brief spell and returning recently to Colorado, the thought of a roller coaster at the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort is dredging up thoughts of the world we left behind.

We are so proud of our town and the people that made it what it is today. Steamboat has so much to offer for residents and visitors alike. The mountain village area is breathtaking from every angle. The structures are low to blend in with the environment; it's an outdoor enthusiasts dream, with adventures galore to explore, and it's the perfect location for a delicious meal or refreshing cocktail while looking at the stunning mountain views from all of the restaurants and hotels.

Of course there is always room for improvement, and changes are not all bad. The flowing river across the lower mountain was the perfect addition to the mountain's natural beauty and adds tremendously to the summer ambiance with the sandy beach and perfectly scattered rocks for everyone to explore.

The Kids Adventure area is fun, also, with great options for our little guys to get their adrenaline going. Is there a theme here? The attractions that have been added to the Mountain Village area thus far are all physically engaging and stimulating. In a world focused on fewer and fewer physical activities for kids, Steamboat appears to have had clear values and priorities in incorporating healthy and active opportunities for children and their families in our little town. Installing an amusement park type ride clearly doesn't seem aligned with these community goals.

Steamboat has done such an excellent job of limiting commercialized activities while protecting our views and environment. How, then, could we consider installing an amusement-park-style ride right at the base of one of our most cherished possessions — Mount Werner? The plan is for the alpine coaster to mirror the lower portion of the Christie Peak Express lift.

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Picture scaffolding (or in this case, metal railing and cages) that's not temporary and will exist forever blocking our views. And just like scaffolding, that brings to mind thoughts of construction and noise, this roller coaster structure will replace the peaceful sounds of the river with a noisy, roaring stream of toboggans squealing and braking their way down the mountain, operating both day and night. So much for that relaxing dinner on the Sheraton terrace or gazing out on the mountain serenity from the Truffle Pig restaurant. You will now have prime viewing seats to a "30 feet-plus above the ground" alpine coaster.

No mountain with the ambiance of Steamboat is installing an Alpine Coaster front and center in its main village area. Vail is completing its coaster this summer, which will be hidden high on the mountain near Eagle's Nest. You don't see any coaster rides infringing upon Jackson Hole's majestic mountain base, but rather over at the small local Snow King Hill. And I'm guessing that beautiful Deer Valley wasn't about to give the thumbs up to such a project, but the local in-town Park City mountain added it as an attraction.

Installing a roller coaster on Mount Werner seems comparable to putting a Ferris wheel next to Banff's Lake Louise. There are very few pristine and glorious settings left in the world. Let's preserve our local treasure.

Alissa Merage

Steamboat Springs

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