Vision 2030 plan takes shape

Group finalizes recommendations for how to achieve community goals

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The full results of Vision 2030's November 2008 gatherings, and its interim report prepared last summer, are available online

— When all is said and done, work on Vision 2030 may last until its namesake year.

Though Vision 2030's final report is nearing completion, the next step is encouraging entities across Routt County to implement its recommendations, project manager Tammie Delaney said. That indeterminate, citizen-driven phase will go on for years, she said. The Vision 2030 project is a large-scale effort to identify key values and ideals of the Yampa Valley community.

In gathering information through community meetings, surveys and focus groups, Vision 2030 learned the largest percentage of respondents - 35.9 percent - were most concerned about preserving the character of the Yampa Valley. Changing economic development patterns were the biggest concern for one-quarter of respondents, followed by retaining open space features, at 19.1 percent.

"We have more in common than we allow ourselves to think," Delaney said.

After the project's completion, results will be presented to government bodies, community organizations, and other stakeholders. Groups and individuals will be tasked to champion individual goals in order for the ideals behind Vision 2030 to come to fruition, especially given the budget constraints currently faced by governments across the county, co-chair Marsha Daughenbaugh said.

"Citizen groups will come together, convene on the recommendation and run forward," Delaney said. "Some of these items, the timing won't be right just now. It may be five years for some of these items to emerge and make sense, others already are being worked on.

"It all comes back to the community to stay on top of this," Daughenbaugh continued.

In many cases, recommendations have existing champions unaffiliated with Vision 2030. Delaney cited the transportation solutions group formed by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association as an example. The body established 10 lodging shuttle stops in downtown Steamboat Springs this fall to reduce congestion and had long-term goals such as creating a regional transportation authority for Routt and Moffat counties.

Vision 2030's transportation-related recommendations include maximizing the options for transportation choices, including pedestrian, bike, car-sharing and transit; requiring new transportation projects to incorporate pedestrian- and bike-friendly features; and instituting methods to reduce and control emissions. Vision 2030 also focuses on promoting the ability of people with a variety of incomes to live and work locally.

Community character

Vision 2030 is a collaborative effort to help define the future of the Yampa Valley, update 1994's Vision 2020 Report of Recommendations and create a community vision.

The initiative, two years in the making, was funded by $77,000 each from the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County, Delaney said.

Vision 2030's final report is scheduled for completion by March 31, Daughenbaugh said.

Of those who thought character was the top priority, more than 70 percent said that meant retaining small-town feel and friendliness, and nearly 22 percent defined character as maintaining a connection to local history and roots - with historic buildings, a Western feel and ranching tradition.

For residents who found changing economic development patterns Routt County's largest concern, two-thirds wanted to see "managed growth" in the future, defined by diversity in residents and the economy and the ability of people to live and work locally. Most of the remainder were anti-growth.

Vision 2030 held its second round of community gatherings across the county in November 2008. The responses aligned well with previous survey results, even though 42 percent of participants were new to the process, Daughenbaugh said.

Recommendations vary

Some of Vision 2030's recommendations are specifically targeted, such as one encouraging county and local planning departments to prepare annual report cards to show progress on various master plans and community visions, and having a "community character" standard that developers should demonstrate for their projects.

Others, such as promoting school outreach programs, and promoting policy and development that promotes the viability of farming and ranching, are more abstract or undefined.

"Putting numbers to abstract, touchy-feely stuff, it's priceless," Delaney said. "It kind of makes you take pause and think a little bit harder about decisions that might otherwise be based on tangibles - what kind of sales tax will this bring? What's the setback going to be?

"Very seldom are decisions made as to will this contribute to or take away from our community?" she continued.

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