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  • Dylan Anderson

District One Commissioner candidate says Routt County needs to be a bigger player to improve quality of life

Six-decade resident Brent Romick says his experience in development and land use will be key as county addresses housing and transportation issues.

For Brent Romick, a resident of Routt County for six decades, everything is about timing. With several key land use decisions on the horizon, he says the time for him to run for Routt County Commissioner has never been better.

Describing himself as a “recovering developer,” Romick said many of the challenges facing Routt County are directly tied to land use and how it allows and doesn’t allow growth. He said issues of housing and transportation in the valley are significantly impacting people’s quality of life and will be key issues for commissioners to work to address.

“We need to be a player to improve the quality of life,” said Romick, who moved to Steamboat when he was 10 when everyone skied every day at recess. “I want kids to be able to enjoy the childhood I grew up with. … When you are growing up in that perfect little world, you want to see everybody be able to do that.”  

Romick is pursuing the District One commissioner seat, which includes South Routt up to the southern parts of Steamboat Springs. That seat is currently held by retiring Commissioner Tim Corrigan. Already announced in the race are Democrat Angelica Salinas and unaffiliated candidate Molly Baker. 

“I don’t believe in whatever party you come from, I believe in the Routt County party,” Romick said. “We’re all in this to make it better for each other, so I’m one to reach across the isle with anybody who wants to accomplish making Routt County a better place to live.”

Romick, who has been working with the city for 45 years through the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, also said there should be a distinct difference between Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs. While he called the city the “best partner he has ever had,” he feels there should be a slightly different ideology at the county level.

“The city is different than the county, and we were getting where our ideology and our approach to things is just all one,” Romick said. “I think that we need a county that is Routt County and a city that is the city of Steamboat Springs. And then where we have commonality, like in housing, we have got to come up with creative solutions that don’t keep people stagnant in their position in life.”

Romick is a strong believer in home ownership, feeling it allows residents to benefit from the prosperity of the county more broadly. He said what commissioners can do in this space is by setting planning and zoning policies that allow for growth where appropriate. Housing types are also important, with Romick saying he preferred the concept of a mobile home park with long-term lot leases over large multi-family developments.

“That’s where the county commissioner role comes in. It’s making sure that we have areas adjacent to these growth centers or in these growth centers where we can get creative about diversifying the type of housing that we have,” Romick said. “We’ve got to look into the county and these other growth centers — Stagecoach and the smaller communities, Yampa, Phippsburg, Oak Creek. Hayden has been popular, wanting to capture a lot of that growth.”

The Routt County Master Plan, which is in the process of being implemented currently, designates growth in areas around current population centers in Routt County. Romick said he agrees with this concept and encourages residents to share their input as the plan is implemented.

While he doesn’t think the county has been too restrictive when it comes to land use, he feels some previous growth centers, Stagecoach in particular, could be re-envisioned to be a solution to housing issues.

Romick said it is one thing to build more housing, but if it is not in the financial reach of the local population — like some new developments in Steamboat — it doesn’t have much impact.

“What I’ve seen with the county is that they have just been stagnant. They have allowed the city to take the lead role there and the county just goes along with it,” Romick said. “That was fine until all of a sudden you have a ton of traffic coming all the way from Craig, Colorado all the way to Steamboat every morning and every evening getting out of here.”

“The county has got to get more involved in it, because it is an affordability issue as you closer to Steamboat Springs city limit signs,” Romick said. “If we are going to take care of our county constituents, we need to go to those growth centers. There are a lot of these smaller communities that need more school enrollment, they need better healthcare, they need more retail space.”

As smaller communities grow, Romick said addressing transportation issues becomes even more important. He pointed to efforts to form a Regional Transportation Authority locally as a key step to addressing transportation and increased traffic.

Romick said an RTA would address The key problem of U.S. 40 between Steamboat and Craig, a stretch he said some refer to as “the death ribbon.” Not only is it a traffic issue, but an RTA could improve safety on the roadway as well. As for service to South Routt, Romick said he likes that current talks allow Oak Creek and Yampa to be included if they are interested in it. An RTA helps with reduced carbon emissions as well, he said.

“I don’t want to run to win, I want to run to make a difference,” Romick said. “Routt County is a welcoming area and anybody that wants to be productive and raise their family here should have the best chance of any county in Northwest Colorado to do that. … We talk about it, but we never get it done. I want to get it done.”  

Top Photo Caption: District One Routt County Commissioner Candidate Brent Romick, a Republican. (Brent Romick/Courtesy)


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