Meeting Wednesday to focus on Steamboat community plan update
March 27, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The planning process to update the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan could be likened to a complicated board game.
Steamboat Springs Planner Jason Peasley said Tuesday that when interested residents gather Wednesday to envision the future for the community that includes surrounding areas outside the city limits, they'll be divided into groups and handed maps and stacks of colored poker chips. They are intended to be visual aids to help them plan for the growth that inevitably will take place in the future.
"We all have overarching concepts of what makes this a great place," Peasley said.
Now, he wants to help guide interested people in the process of deciding how to implement those visions using measurable goals.
"If our goal is to have an integrated transportation system, how do we know that we've achieved that?" Peasley asked. "We have a lot of momentum with Bike Town USA, but can we measure the number of trips taken outside of an automobile?"
The ability to measure results would go a long way to confirming that the community is getting closer to its goal and justify public dollars spent on bike lanes and bus routes, for example, Peasley said.
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The plan, which also involves Routt County government, was last updated in 2004 and in 2011, when a series of public meetings were held to ask community members to refocus on their goals for the future of Steamboat and to ask them, "How are we doing? Have we done well? What can we improve on?"
The clearest message that came out of the 2011 meetings, Peasley said, is that people want this to be a place where "families can continue to live and grow."
Peasley admits this will not be an easy board game to play. But since the last community plan update, local officials have a better grasp on how much developable land exists within city limits and what kinds of development current zoning maps allow on the remaining unbuilt land in the city.
By allocating stacks of poker chips to different portions of the map, small groups taking part in Wednesday’s meeting will be able to visualize the planning goals that need to be created, Peasley said.
They are likely to learn that there is ample room in the existing city limits for new retail stores, he said.
But if the goal is to preserve Steamboat as a place where families can live and grow, the cost of the remaining undeveloped residential land may be too great to allow for construction of small, affordable single-family homes.
Let the game resume.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com