Growth issues discussed

Healthy Mountain Communities group takes comments

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— The Healthy Mountain Communities group presented to about 25 Routt County residents and community leaders a portion of its Smart Growth Scorecard survey to help finalize the document and to create discussion about local population increases.

Though no score on growth in the county was made, the residents did give some comments on growth issues Tuesday night.

Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel pointed out some serious future transportation issues as growth spreads to smaller towns in the county, while most employment stays in Steamboat Springs.

"We do have some critical transportation issues that we have to address before we have a problem," he said.

He referred to the line commuters form each morning and afternoon on roads and highways in the county.

Open space and parks issues also came to the table.

"There still is a need for protecting pocket parks," Steamboat Springs Planning Commissioner Dick Curtis said.

Though parks and their accessibility were considered in good shape in the old parts of Steamboat Springs, Curtis suggested that acquiring smaller parks in newer portions of the city is something that needs to be worked on.

The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley hosted the meeting at the Steamboat Springs Community Center in connection to growth forums the group organized last fall.

The Smart Growth Scorecard has been used extensively by residents in Vermont to assess how growth is being managed in its communities.

Healthy Mountain Communities, a nonprofit group out of Carbondale, is revising the scorecard to make it applicable to Colorado communities.

The Routt County residents were one of the first community groups to test the scorecard. Healthy Mountain Communities, which is in partnership with the Orton Family Foundation, has presented the rough draft of the scorecard in Carbondale and at the Colorado American Planning Association Conference in September in Grand Junction.

"I think it went really well. There were a lot of good discussions," Healthy Mountain Communities Director Colin Laird said.

The local residents were split into three groups covering one of three topics: compact town centers, transportation options and open space and working lands protection. Each group gave a one- to three-point marking on questions.

Laird took note of comments made about the questions. He said the scoring is not as important as the discussion that comes out of the question.

"It's just a way to get people thinking about the issues," he said.

Laird hopes to have the Smart Growth Scorecard ready for the public in a month or so. When it is ready, groups will give number ratings on several questions, then add up the score to determine how the community rates.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4204

or e-mail dcrowl@steamboatpilot.com

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