Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Steamboat Springs If you put enough intelligent and influential people in the same room, the discussion is bound to get a little lofty.
At a joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, representatives from nearly every governing body in the county joined a roundtable forum about how to examine the future of the Yampa Valley.
The key topic was Vision 2020, a compilation of public policy recommendations created by a multi-faceted citizen committee in 1994. The goal of Vision 2020 was to create guidelines for development and community growth in a region with a booming population and tourism industry.
Diane Mitsch Bush, a member of the Routt County Planning Commission, said goals outlined in the original Vision 2020 directly led to local achievements such as the preservation of more than 20,000 acres of land by the Yampa Valley Land Trust, huge growth in funding for local preschools through the work of First Impressions and the creation of numerous community service groups such as Yampa Valley Partners.
Mitsch Bush is also a member of the Vision 2020 Update Committee, which asked the City Council and county commissioners for a total of $154,000 during two years to update the plan and reassess future demands.
"We're about at the halfway point (between 1994 and 2020)," committee member Lyman Orton said. "There are a lot of new things on the horizon that need to be looked at."
Orton cited growing needs for affordable housing, neighborhood development and preservation of "cultural aspects of community" as items an updated plan could address.
The requested cost would finance a project manager to oversee the vast amount of community input and research needed for an updated plan, Orton said. The money also would fund advertising, expenses at public meetings, and design and distribution of the final report.
Commissioner Doug Monger said the price is steep.
"There's a huge sticker-shock here," Monger said. "I'm very concerned about the budget scenario."
Linda Kakela, the city's director of intergovernmental services, said money spent updating Vision 2020 would provide a substantial return for the city and county.
"We received at least $25 million in grants as a direct result of (the original) Vision 2020," Kakela said. "If you have that kind of 'vision' document, it really goes a long way."
City Council member Steve Ivancie supported updating the plan.
"I look at this as a very important investment," he said. "It's what proactive government does - prepare for the future."
The City Council will have an all-day hearing and review of its 2007 budget Oct. 3. Council member Paul Strong said the request should be considered at that time.
"We need to have some sort of budget discipline," Strong said.
The group accepted a compromise proposed by Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, a member of the update committee. Stahoviak recommended that the council and commissioners direct the committee to move forward with its planning process, but to await formal budget consideration during the Oct. 3 hearing.
"There has been a tremendous amount of work done here by a volunteer committee," Stahoviak said.