Our View: Come together, right now…
At issue: Meeting the community housing committee’s 2030 goals
Our view: A million dollars isn’t enough to keep City Council and Brynn Grey apart
Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.
We were encouraged this week to hear from both Steamboat Springs City Council members and representatives of affordable housing developer Brynn Grey that their March 20 meeting, the first in 182 days, was both positive and productive. We say that because the clock is ticking on the goals laid out by the Community Housing Steering Committee in December 2016.
It was Dec. 15, 2016, when steering committee chairman Dan Pirrallo pointed out to the last City Council that projections are for Routt County’s population to grow from 23,000 to 35,000 by 2030.
Pirrallo reported that the housing task force concluded the broader community needed to deliver on the promise of almost 700 new housing units plus 250 beds for seasonal workers through the coming four years just to meet the existing housing supply gap. And that would not necessarily address the housing needs of Routt County in 2020, 2025 or years further in the future.
Steamboat Today reported March 2 that Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said the council and Brynn Grey’s David O’Neil have reached an agreement on about 80 percent of their proposal, but there are still some significant details to be agreed upon.
“I think there was a lot of compromise,” Meyer said. “I think council, especially (Council President Jason Lacy), made it very clear we understand how important housing is to this community right now at all levels, and we hoped we could move the ball through the negotiations.”
A portion of the negotiations revolve around differing positions on how much money Brynn Grey should contribute to highway and intersection improvements near the proposed development in West Steamboat, where the city and Routt County have agreed for numerous years that expansion of the city limits would take place.
The two parties are about $1 million dollars apart.
We are not inclined to fault the city for taking a firm stand in these complex negotiations. Nor are we indifferent to the reality, given its current tax structure, that it will cost the city money to extend municipal services to the new neighborhoods created over time by Brynn Grey.
But, to put the $1 million gap between the two parties in context, projects that the city of Steamboat Springs has recently built, or come close to building, have had similar price ranges, including the new roundabout at the entrance to Central Park Plaza, the new Emerald Park access and a new Igloo afterschool childcare facility, a project the council ultimately opted not to pursue. The city also spent $693,000 on the beautification of the U.S. Highway 40 median.
It is time for the city and Brynn Grey to split the difference and move forward on an annexation agreement.
Because, we think, to miss this opportunity to consummate an annexation agreement with a successful community housing developer with a multi-year track record in nearby Summit County would be regrettable.
In fact, to fail would almost assure that we will fall well short of the goals set forward by the housing steering committee, just to play catch-up with community housing.
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