Small towns and rural communities throughout the United States are looking for ways to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life, and build on local assets. Many rural communities and small towns are facing challenges, including rapid growth at metropolitan edges, declining rural populations, and loss of farms and working lands.
Slow-growing and shrinking rural areas might find that their policies are not bringing the prosperity they seek, while fast-growing rural areas at the edge of metropolitan regions face metropolitan-style development pressures.
Smart growth strategies can help rural communities achieve their goals for growth and development while maintaining their distinctive rural character.
One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP) is Gunnison County's version of a visioning project like Envision Chaffee County. I was curious about the role of the Community Foundation of Gunnison County (CFGC) in the project. The attached notes give a brief summary of how CFGC will carry out some of the objectives established through OVPP's planning process.
Just got this from Dominique Naccarato this morning. Summary of transportation needs survey for both residents and tourists. Data would be useful for Community Vision groups 2 and 3.
Submitted by Jan Ohmstede
In researching existing data available to represent views of our local cultural groups, I found this report. The 4-year plan includes results from a survey of area senior citizens. This comprehensive plan covers 2015-2019.
Durango has had the same city manager for 10 years and are on their fourth manager since the 1950's. He indicated that manager stability is a major reason the community has done so well. The council elects the mayor annually by charter and it rotates annually amongst the council. The rotation of the mayor lends authority to the manager. The mayor is not CEO-the council appoints the manager, attorney, and municipal judge. They have had a staff attorney for the past 4 years and prior to that they had a contract attorney who was around for 30 years.
The council has a retreat every spring-use the meeting room at the library-for two days and bring in a facilitator to identify a set of goals they want staff working on. The outcome of the retreat is it creates the basis for department heads to determine priorities. They also do a budge retreat in the fall and both are public meetings.
They have had 10 years of congenial councils. When he came in as the new mayor in 2013 he had 1 on 1's with each council person.
The toughest issue he is dealing with is homelessness and the city manager concurs. The sherriff has tacitly allowed camping in certain areas around Durango-has said he cannot enforce the law if people have no where to go. Fire danger is a huge concern. There is a proposal for permanent housing via tax credits but it is at least 3 years out. The big fear is that if we have a drought next spring/summer all the camping in the woods could lead to wild fires.
They put in a new land use code 4 years ago which helped them get ahead of the VRBO issue. They enforce it with a third party enforcement company who scours websites and compares to city licenses.
Asked if we are member of CAST(Colorado Association of Ski Towns) which puts out really good surveys.
Mentioned that Durango is about to launch a major civic engagement project and that Fort Collins was a really good source for them. They went through a 6-12 process asking the community to establish procedures which led to a Tabor override.
Lori grew up in Fruita as a third generation member of the community. She moved back in 2001 and at the time downtown was very quiet and mountain biking was gaining ground. There was definitely a mountain biker versus everyone else mentality. The local hospital has been helpful in bridging this divide by running ads showing people falling off a mountain bike and a horse and regardless of which it is they are there to help. Their population doubled from 2000-2008. As they grew what helped was having a great land use code in place and they could show people on a map how things were intended to play out. Today people no longer have to drive to Grand Junction to shop and can see the correlation between growth and the amenities that come with it.
She said it was critical to identify community champions like the owners of bike shops and restaurants and then asking them what to you need and what is the community lacking. It is also really important to turn over rocks, get out in the community and speak with people. She said that it has never worked when the city pushed for something-things have to happen organically. A good example is that it was residents rather than the city who pushed for a community center. The city helped them with a feasibility study. It was a dead tie the first time around but the second time they were able to get some of the biggest opponents to come around and they were able to build a 11.8 million dollar facility.
She also shared that sending out a quarterly 2 fold publication to anyone who gets a utility bill has been the best way to keep people informed. When they surveyed the public people indicated that the publication was their number 1 source of information. It has pictures and numbers for council and asks the questions of what do you see? and what can we do better?
Her final thought was having a council who supports the city manager is critical.
a big focus of their council has been facilitating civil discourse. The previous council fought all the time and were too focused on personal issues. In addition, they had a tendency to blindside staff. They put in place much more structured work sessions than had existed and have them two weeks prior to council meeting which provides time to really look at what is brought, ask staff questions, gives staff two weeks to research issues, and also gives council time to get out into the community. Staff now knows what to expect and what questions are likely to be asked. They schedule the work session in the middle of the day and all department heads are there.
She emphasized taking small steps, focusing on something positive and coming together as a council-once a decision is made need to go out to the community with a consistent message. She also shared that they did a total redo of city code 3 years ago and came up with many housing incentives including in kind, taking sidewalk and gutter responsibility away from developers and placing on the city, adding ADUs, and working to make it easier for developers to come in.
They formed a rec district 30 years ago but only 3 years ago they passed a sales tax to build a $28 million rec center with many kids programs and set up public transport to take kids to the rec center for after school activities. The first time they tried it failed miserably because they did not have an exact location selected. The second time they bought the land and listened to people and got community buy in. Outside of the city people were assessed a mill levy and today approximately 1/3 of memberships are with people who opposed and fought vehemently against it. This has built confidence which has led to strong partnerships between the city and rec district.
I (Cindy) reached out to a college at Omada consulting, London who specializes in building community. He had some wonderful ideas around how we might connect and engage Chaffee citizens and build shared culture - they are attached. A few that I loved:
* Look for and tell stories of those who epitomize "Chaffee Friendly" or "Chaffee Engaged"
* Run Chaffee welcomes that connect new comers
* Photo context - "Chaffee at it's best " or "Now THIS is Colorado" and have local gallery showing/s
* Have local school kids make "Why Chaffee is Special" video clips and show at the community centers
The rest attached
As part of identifying what the community values during Phase I of the Envision Chaffee County initiative, the Envision Team conducted a survey designed to gather input from a representative sample of the County’s population. Community engagement in the Envision survey was excellent, with 1,203 total respondents – more than a quarter of whom asked to stay involved in the project.
The demographic summary of survey participants shows a strongly representative sampling of Chaffee County citizens. Coverage by zip code area, age bracket and work force participation is highly representative of County composition. Coverage of all income ranges is also high, but with somewhat of an under-representation of lower incomes and over-representation of higher income ranges. This potential bias was addressed by testing results for each survey question by income range and reporting any significant differences. A broad range of different lengths of county residency was also sampled, even though no county-wide data were available for comparison.
In summary, the Envision community survey is representative; it provides very clear and quantitative information about what the county’s residents value most and what concerns them as they consider the County’s growth. This report complements the Community Interview Report.
Published: November 6, 2017
As part of identifying what the community values during Phase I of the Envision Chaffee County initiative, the Envision Team conducted short interviews (five questions) with a broad range of local residents to discuss one-on-one their vision for Chaffee County’s future, and garner their feedback on the draft results statements created by the Envision Team during the group’s first meeting in early October. A total of 95 people were interviewed. This report complements the Community Survey Report.
Everyone who participated in the first Envision Team meeting was invited to interview community members. The result was a diverse set of conversations with people who participate in the Chaffee County community a variety of ways, including: Buena Vista and Salida school administrators and teachers; business owners; bankers; realtors; ranchers; public officials; pastors; outdoor enthusiasts; retirees; high school students; seasonal workers; parents; teachers; foresters; and more. Coverage by zip code area and age bracket was representative of Chaffee County’s composition.
Published: November 7, 2017
As part of Phase I of the Envision Chaffee County initiative, the community defined what is most valued in Chaffee County and then developed four vision statements describing the future citizens want to see. The community then defined measures to show how we are doing relative to these Community Visions. These measures are the basis of our report card. This report card is a first for our community – a data-centric “grading” that shows how we are progressing relative to the vision citizens have for the future. This report card shows some areas to celebrate, and many areas that require new approaches and planning, to create a future where the community’s vision becomes reality.
Published: January 15, 2018