Community Alliance adopts 2003 strategy

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— The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley celebrated its third anniversary Saturday night by electing new officers and announcing its strategy for the coming year.

The Community Alliance was created in 2000 by a small group of people concerned about growth in Steamboat Springs after the real estate boom of the 1990s, community organizer Christi Ruppe said.

"As a group we are always evaluating how we can control growth," she said.

The group identified the Steamboat Springs Community Area Plan Update as its vehicle for change in 2003, board vice president John Spezia said at Saturday night's meeting.

The Community Area Plan is an overarching policy document created in 1995 to direct planning decisions.

The plan provides a framework for decision-making, but it is not enforceable.

That's something the Community Alliance would like to change, Ruppe said.

"We want the plan to have teeth," Spezia said. "We are looking for something more than a list of guidelines. We want to see action."

Spezia asked Community Alliance members to participate in the drafting process by contacting City Planner Tom Leeson.

The city recently hired the consulting firm Clarion Associates to examine the future of Steamboat using the computer program CommunityViz.

The program makes social, physical and economic predictions when given a set of criteria such as, "What will Steamboat look like in 10 years with a 3 percent growth rate?"

The public is welcome to contribute possible criteria to plug into the analysis.

The information will be used to make educated decisions in the final draft of the Community Area Plan.

Public input will be accepted through Feb. 7 in this stage of the process.

"Right now we are trying to use the collaborative process," Spezia said. "But collaboration involves compromise and we might end up with only half a baby. That might not be what we want.

"If this process doesn't work, we will take a more assertive approach," he said.

The Community Alliance exists, Ruppe said, to give members a voice in the community. The group claims 150 dues-paying members who receive regular alerts of county and city meetings and legislative action pertaining to environmental and growth issues.

Ruppe was hired one year ago after the Community Alliance partnered with the social and environmental activist group Western Colorado Congress to give the organization a day-to-day presence in Routt County.

Board members represent the group at City Council meetings, speaking out on issues of importance to members such as Triple Crown and gravel pits.

The Community Alliance will be headed this year by newly elected president Diane Brower.

Brower has been with the organization since its inception, Ruppe said.

Brower is replacing former president Stuart Orzach who resigned from the position in December.

Brower will be joined by Spezia as vice president and John Whittum as treasurer, newly elected this year.

The position for secretary is still open.

Two other Community Alliance members joined the board Saturday night -- Jack White and Rich Levy.

White moved to the area in 1976 and bought land in North Routt in the early 1980s.

He formed the North Routt Citizens Group with neighbors to oppose a hut system proposed near his home.

Levy ran for Steamboat Springs City Council in 1997 and is currently on the board of the Sierra Club.

He is a seasonal ranger for the Forest Service and his heart is with environmental issues, he said.


--To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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