S. Routt potluck a success

Residents assess future of area over dinner Tuesday

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More than one year after the South Routt Community Economic Assessment, the South Routt community met to share dinner and their thoughts on how much progress has been made.

Oak Creek business owner Jane Stitt had one word for Tuesday night's meeting: positive.

"It was such a positive meeting, and it had so many people from all different areas of the communities," said Stitt, who participates in a committee formed through the assessment. "Everybody seemed to be in favor of making our communities ... join together and continue to work together for the advantage of everybody."

The assessment last summer aimed to help the South Routt community evaluate its economic strengths and weaknesses, and its economic potential. Several committees formed to maintain momentum from the study.

The committee on which Stitt serves has the goal of developing a shared vision and sense of community for South Routt. As a means to that end, it recently designed and sent out a survey to gauge how residents of Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Phippsburg, Yampa and Toponas, as well as the rural areas between those towns, perceived the area's needs and assets.

Several major conclusions from the survey were presented Tuesday night:

n The South Routt area needs to have its own economic base.

n The area needs more recreation and more single-family homes.

n Preserving the area's agricultural heritage was a priority.

A committee focused on helping the South Routt Economic Development Council grow presented work it has accomplished on getting grants to support the council, committee member Bea Westwater said. A first step is getting nonprofit status for the council, which the committee is pursuing.

Other goals include updating the council's Web site and finding a way to fund a staff person for the council.

Efforts to get a business incubator off the ground were presented by the committee focused on building a good foundation for economic development. Such an incubator would give people starting small businesses a place to use a copier and fax and other business equipment that a small start-up may not have.

The committee that is focused on developing consistency in land-use regulations and development policies presented its efforts to hold public meetings and develop one packet with all information about building a business or home in the South Routt area.

The committee with a goal of supporting viable agricultural operations still is searching for a chairperson, Westwater said.

Next, a report will be compiled and sent to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which sponsored the South Routt Community Economic Assessment as part of the Colorado Community Assessment Program, Westwater said.

Additional public meetings will be scheduled for the future.

"We had a wonderful meeting," Westwater said. "The assessment is moving along."

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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