Working to make Summit County a Better Place to Live for Ourselves and Future Generations
February Meeting 2006
" Boot Gordon" stresses sustainability
Sara Stokes is happy to see "collaborative leadership."
Creating a Countywide
Don Parsons opened the forum by posing core questions for the evening, “What do we want Summit County to look like in the future? What is the process by which we carry forward this vision?”
Howard Hallman reviewed a number of issues covered in forums during the first year of Our Future Summit’s existence, including I-70 expansion, revenue sharing, big box development, health care and the pine beetle epidemic.
After describing a process for creating a countywide stakeholder vision statement, he introduced the five panelists:
·Bob French, Summit County commissioner;
·Eric Turner, president of the Summit County Chamber of Commerce;
·Mary Ann Looby, president of People Dynamics and an advisor to Leadership Summit;
·Jennifer Kermode, a Dillon-based mortgage broker and a member of Leadership Summit’s inaugural training class;
·Gary Severson, executive director of Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG).
NWCCOG , now 34 years old, brings counties and municipalities together from five contiguous counties (Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, Grand and Jackson) to solve common problems. NWCCOG is a voluntary organization designed to foster cooperation between government entities. One of the major problems we stakeholders have is Colorado’s rigid taxing structure.. The State is supported by income tax, the counties by property tax, and municipalities off sales tax. This results in competition between municipalities to compete for revenues by encouraging commercial development. Summit is the only member county in the council to share sales tax revenues with its towns.
Jennifer worries about how the county is going to look like when her son grows up. The lack of a countywide vision statement keeps us from having a united idea of how the county is going to grow. How can all of us be heard?
Thousands of people come to the county to ski, sail, fish, shop, eat and explore the mountains and forest. Since a four lane interstate highway brings millions of people through the county every year, how will we continue to deal with that?
She and her family moved to Summit County for the small town atmosphere, a safe place to live, a welcoming community and proximity to nature. Her concerns include commercial sprawl, unsafe schools and ever-expanding commercial development.
Can we come up with collaborative development to the keep things we treasure in the county intact?
Mary Ann Looby
It took Mary Ann years to be able move here, gaining home equity so as to escape Front Range suburban sprawl. She wanted to be part of a small community, with its more manageable student populations for her children. A major limiting factor here is the employment situation, characterized by many low wage, some high wage and a lack of middle wage jobs which makes it all but impossible for residents in their 20s and 30s to become part of a stable long-term community. We require greater economic diversity to offer stability. Would she be able to sustain a life here if she lost her health?
Between the natural outdoors environment and the closeness of a major city in Denver, Summit County has a nice mix of rural and urban features with theatres and other cultural attractions as well as abundant recreational opportunities. While our mountain lifestyle is comfotable now, change is inevitable. We must become more involved in shaping that change with good planning and vision. He recalls being six years old and hearing about e I-70 issues from his parents when the highway was under construction. It remains a hot topic that his son dutifully hears his parents discuss.
Bob moved here in the 70’s for an employment opportunity and learned to enjoy recreation in the High Country. He voiced concern about engaging more people in the process. How can we encourage 1% of the county’s population (260) to turn out for a meeting like this to help define our future?
General Discussion with Audience Members
How do we cope with increased traffic inside Summit County?
Improve local mass transit? The challenge is that the number visitors coming into and through the county will increase as the Denver metro area grows by a million more people.
How might mass transit change the county?
High speed transit would turn Summit County into more of a bedroom community, bringing more stable economic class. The reverse would work as well attracting people from the Front range to work in the the service industry.
How can we bring in a more diverse economy by attracting more high tech ompanies to the county that would support a more stable middle class?
The state has funded an economic impact study to determine how Summit County can best attract appropriate industry to the county
Let free enterprise and natural constraints take its course.
Imagine the perspective of a company considering relocation as to the infrastructure of the county. Is it adequate now? Will it be in the future?
What is the level of sustainability of the county in the event of isolation in terms of food, energy and self support?
What is the effect of the inevitable rise in energy costs on traffic tourism and supply?
CDOT assumes that there will be no lessening in the demand for and use of personal transportation, regardless of the price of gasoline.
What would be the economic impact of a Performing Arts Center to the county?.
Why are young people in Aspen able to earn salaries there and afford to purchase homes? Aspen is a pioneer in finding ways to make housing there affordable for workers.
Christina Carlson, executive director of FIRC (Family & Intercultural Resource Center) was asked about her vision. She replied that our vision should be looking at the dual level diversity of needs in the community. The immigrant and refugee population is 15 % of the community. How do we integrate and embrace the cultural diversity of community and increase the level of attachment? How do we facilitate the inclusion of people from different backgrounds?”
With reference to affordable housing, Aspen was cited as an example of a town that passed a sales tax that specifically funds it. Bonnie Osborn of the Summit Housing Authority executive director Bonnie Osborn cited a survey that identified the immediate need for 2175 affordable housing units and 3000 units by 2010. Public opinion surveys indicate that public support for a mill levy to fund affordable housing projects is lacking. Why should taxpayers subsidize employers by providing housing? Shouldn’t employers either subsidize housing for their workers or pay a living wage.
As the meeting progressed, forum participant were encouraged to examine the process of creating a consensus vision.
Identify core values, motivations and issues. How do governments currently address the wants and needs of their constituencies?.
Many of our towns have their own vision statements. What are they vision?
What is the appropriate venue for moving a vision process forward? How is information shared between municipalities? What barriers exist between different towns?
How can we increase communication, transparency and respect between towns?
We are talking about identifying a consensus of opinion countywide, emphasizing the 60% of resident living in unincorporated Summit County. Gary Seversen will make available a wealth a population data collected by NW Coloradgo COG.
Sara Stokes of the Keystone Center explained that Leadership Summit has already initiated a process for training emerging leaders to value and use collaborative techniques. Tonight’s forum is an excellent exampleof that process-engaging in dialogue is more import than the creation of a vision statement. She urged everyone to bring this topic in with other settings such as conversations with friend and neighbors and meeting of other groups they belong to
How feasible is it to influence the governance of the county so that regular citizens have a cooperative entity working on their behalf as opposed to competing governments.
Each panelist was asked to comment on sustainability..
Bob – have more people involved in the process.
Eric – common vision based on common issues community-wide.
Mary Anne – we do have a
crisis. Agitation does exist across the county
Jennifer Kermode – process of
creating a vision is more important.
Gary Severson – Stop thinking
about Summit County. To keep
Process starts because of our own passion (Don Parsons).
“Are we sustainable over the long run?” asked Howard Hallman, “How can we sustain housing, integration, transportation for growing needs.”
Next Forum: “How Safe are Snowsports in Summit County?” 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Thursday, March 9th, 2006 at the Keystone Center.
Comments and questions can be directed to:
Howard Hallman, PO Box 209, Frisco, CO 80443
970-468-9134 or firstname.lastname@example.org