Area plan receives input

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— City Planner Tom Leeson stood before a crowd of more than 70 people and asked them to share what was good, bad or needed to be changed with the work that was put into the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update over the past year.

And they did.

In the first public meeting since the area plan update kicked off in November 2001, a mixture of concerned residents, elected officials and working group members gathered at Centennial Hall Monday to give their input.

Those in the group asked that old condominiums be turned into affordable housing, that growth is controlled not managed, and that Steamboat finds ways to encourage a diversified economy and bring in more businesses like Smartwool, The Industrial Company and Moots Cycle.

Bob Carpenter came to the meeting to see what was proposed for his neighborhood in Strawberry Park, but he ended up making some general comments along the way.

"It was very fascinating," Carpenter said. "I wasn't here in 1995 (for the original area plan), but I think a lot of good work has been done. I hope the citizens in the community are more interested in the next review. That will shape what is going to come out of this."

Carpenter and others were asked to comment on the vision statements, issues, objectives and possible approaches that 10 community working groups have been forming since May.

Close to 100 community members have volunteered to sit on the working groups, which are divided into areas of capital facilities; community design; economic development and sustainability; growth management; housing; land use; natural, scenic and environmentally sensitive areas; transportation; historic preservation and open space, recreation and trails.

Hired consultants Clarion Associates then took the information from the working groups and analyzed it.

Monday's meeting gave residents a chance to visit three different working groups for 20 minutes each.

After the working groups presented their findings, the residents were asked to give their feedback.

Brain Edwards moved to Steamboat two months ago and saw Monday night as a chance to give input.

"I wanted to get involved. If you don't control it now, then you'll regret it down the line," he said.

Valerie Perea sat in the Crawford Room listening to the suggestions. Her working group, growth management, was one of the most heavily visited groups, and from Monday night's comments came the desire to define what growth meant.

"(The plan) has to pay attention to the community's desire. We need to make sure we pay attention to the two (community) surveys, which clearly say growth is a key issue," Perea said.

When the public met after the breakout sessions, resident Lisa Benjamin suggested having an overall vision statement for how the entire plan should go.

"We need some vision of what we want in this community, it is a critical piece to have in this plan," she said.

Randall Hannaway, who sits on the city planning commission, recommended a marketing campaign to spark the public's interest. He stressed the importance of going beyond those who usually give their input and reaching the voting majority.

"This thing won't have the effect it could have if you don't get the public to be interested in it," he said.

The recommendations made Monday will go back to the working groups, and eventually be incorporated into the alternatives, formed by the consultants, on how Steamboat and the surrounding area should grow.

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