Student hosts Steamboat 700 meeting

Gates Gooding creates thesis about Steamboat’s growth at MIT

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Gates Gooding

If you go

What: Public meeting about community values and Steamboat 700, hosted by Steamboat Springs native Gates Gooding to collect information for his graduate thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Olympian Hall at Howelsen Lodge

Contact: Call Gooding at 846-4834 for more information.

Gates Gooding is hosting a public meeting Thursday night to talk with city residents about Steamboat 700, as the first step in a study to quantify the proposed annexation’s potential impacts.

Gooding, 27, is a fifth-generation Steamboat Springs native and a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Tech­nology, where he is studying urban and environmental planning.

For his graduate thesis, he hopes to create a scientific, quantifiable study of potential impacts from future local development, or lack thereof. A large part of the study is Steamboat 700, which proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of city limits. City planning documents cite a 20- to 30-year timeframe for development. City residents will decide the annexation’s fate in a mail-only vote that concludes March 9.

Gooding said he hopes to determine Thursday what issues regarding the annexation — such as traffic, community character and housing — matter most to residents, so that he knows where to focus his study.

“The goal is to present people with an easily understandable, quantified summary about how future development choices will affect things they care about most,” Gooding said about his thesis Monday. “For each of these criteria that are identified in the meeting, I’m going to come up with a baseline performance value that’s happening in Steamboat today.”

From those baseline values, Gooding said, he plans to project whether Steamboat 700 will affect identified issues positively or negatively, and how much so. He hopes to circulate a pamphlet-style notice of his findings before the Steamboat 700 vote, with publication of his full thesis — including analysis of other local development possibilities — in May.

Taking the community’s pulse is familiar territory for Gooding. He filmed local interviews for the Vision 2030 report, a countywide assessment of community values that committee members began in 2007 and finalized last summer. Vision 2030 project manager Tammie Delaney said Gooding’s footage was used in a YouTube video.

“He was at that point really intrigued about taking that values approach to long-term planning,” Delaney said.

She said Gooding is “one of those examples” of a Steamboat native who applies learning acquired elsewhere to passion about the local community.

“He’s brilliant,” she said. “I just think the world of him.”

Gooding said although 35 to 40 people would be an adequate turnout for his study, he is hoping many community members attend Thursday’s meeting, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Lodge.

“I need a statistically accurate representation of the community in order to say that my results are significant from this,” he said. “The meeting is not going to be a forum for debate. … It’s (asking) what do we care about? I just need what’s going to seem like very simple input from the community.”

Gooding said he hopes to remove opinion from his study about Steamboat 700, a hot-button issue as the community moves toward the upcoming vote. Ballots for the question known as Referendum A will be mailed between Feb. 15 and 19.

“My only agenda here is to help our community understand the implications of our decision,” Gooding said.

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