Town receives $158,000 grant for growth studies

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— The town of Hayden received a $158,000 grant Monday from the Gates Family Foundation to go toward proactive community visioning and planning efforts.

Most of the grant money will be used for impact studies related to the planned 900-acre Sunburst Ranch subdivision, but some of the money will be used for overall town planning, including providing money to hire a professional planner temporarily to help with the town's efforts.

A letter from Gates Family Foundation Executive Director Thomas Kaesemeyer stated that the foundation was impressed with Hayden's vision and desires to control growth, but has "concerns about how that vision can be achieved by relying on an impact study which is partially funded by the developer (even though an outside consultant hired by the town will be used to conduct the study)."

"It is the Foundation's belief that taking private development funds out of the impact study completely will help ensure an independent analysis and future developments by the town," the letter states.

Of the total grant amount, $109,000 will be used to pay for impact studies, $14,000 will go toward CommunityViz hardware and software and the "community visioning process," and the remaining $35,000 will go toward the development of the Hayden Master Plan in 2004.

Of the money dedicated to impact studies, $61,000 will be used for Sunburst Ranch and $48,000 for impact studies of other possible development of vacant lands within municipal boundaries. The $48,000 also will be used to hire a community planner to plug impact study information into the CommunityViz software.

Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel said the town soon will be sending out requests for the community planner position, with hopes of finding someone who has experience with the virtual reality, growth-visualizing Community Viz software.

The town hopes to have the community planner hired by the end of 2003, Straebel said.

Also, even though a comprehensive town master plan already exists, the Gates Family Foundation is earmarking $35,000 of the total $158,000 for specifically detailed revisions to the plan in 2004 that will coincide with the major growth Sunburst Ranch would bring.

It is the hope of the Gates Family Foundation that data from these impact studies can be used as a guideline for other communities, reads the letter from Kaesemeyer.

Getting the CommunityViz software and hardware would have been nearly impossible without this grant, said Tammie Delaney, who teamed with Straebel in writing the grant application.

"The best thing about getting this is that it enables the community to come together to see what the town wants to be in 10, 20 or 50 years down the road," Delaney said. "It can also help us address the best ways we want to serve that growth.

"To me, what is most important are the great things that already go on in the area, such as the Nature Conservancy and PDR (purchase of development rights) programs working to preserve open space and maintain the beauty of the area. Hopefully, we can implement this technology with these programs for the better of the community."

Delaney is also a consultant with the Orton Family Foundation, which she said made this grant possible by giving her time to help write the proposal and writing a letter of support for the town's grant request.

"The whole concept of the Orton Family Foundation is involvement so that all voices are heard," Delaney said. "This gives Hayden the chance to really succeed in its planning efforts."

The town is excited to receive this grant and to receive recognition for its plans to thoroughly study growth with technology and professional assistance, Straebel said.

"This is some cutting edge stuff for a small town dealing with some big growth issues," Straebel said.

The total cost of this planning project will be $396,540, according to the grant request letter to The Gates Family Foundation.

The remaining cost of the project after the grant is more than $238,000, which will come from in-kind contributions.


-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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