Friday, September 20, 2019

Council on quest to come up with a master plan for town

“ Remember, we are a small community…”

The pursuit for a town of Crested Butte master plan has begun. The Town Council last week decided to take the first steps toward a document meant to guide the council and overall community in making decisions in
the future.



The first step is for the council and staff to take a few
weeks to look at such plans already in existence from
towns such as Telluride and Bend, Oregon.
The council held an hour-long work session Monday,
November 17 to discuss ideas for a master plan.
Town planner John Hess asked the council what exactly
they wanted.
“We as a staff aren’t sure what it is you’d like to see,”
he said. “We are in the middle of getting a master plan
together specifically for the Parks and Recreation department.
The town already has an area plan and a transportation
plan. You need to tell us what you want.”
Mayor pro tem Leah Williams liked the Telluride
master plan. “When you Google it, it goes right to the
area saying that the local real estate consortium used the
plan,” she said. “They look at the National Historic District,
density and all kinds of things. I’d like a document
that everyone really uses.”
Councilperson Billy Rankin liked the idea of a specific
master plan. “Master plan has been a buzz word for
us lately,” he admitted. “Whatever we come up with, it
should be a useable document.”
Councilperson Skip Berkshire wanted a thorough
plan. “I think I pulled the pin on this hand grenade a
year ago after seeing Mt. Crested Butte compile a ‘Community
Plan.’ They went through a good process with a
community survey, and a vision and then crafted a plan
that speaks to their community. In theory, there are things
that help them in their decision making. One thing I don’t
want to do is work on something and come back after a
year and have to undo it.”
Rankin said the council should get into specific detail
with the plan. “We need a narrow focus,” he said. “For
example, how do we deal with the land we have left and
what amenities can we place on that land. A parking plan
can be included and a comprehensive energy plan.”
Williams lobbied for a professional plan. “I think it is
important to have a professional complete the plan,” she
said. “They can incorporate everything we already have
into a document that can be used by everyone and we
can all be on the same page and direction.”
“Does the staff see value in this? Do we really need it
or is it already covered in plans we already have?” asked
Councilperson Dan Escalante.
Hess said there was some merit to the quest. “I think
there is something broken and it can help,” said Hess.
“For example, we just built an expensive ball field and
now we’re moving it. We need something and maybe
this helps with the vision thing.”
Hess suggested studying the Telluride Master Plan
document closely. “I’ll bet they’ve addressed a lot of the
things that are familiar to us,” he said. But he also emphasized
that proceeding toward a master plan has to have
“community buy-in.”
Town manager Susan Parker also saw some value in
a master plan document. “As long as there is broad community
buy-in it makes sense. To me, if it is used, it is a
way for the council to communicate with the staff what it
is you want in a year or five years. It’s a communication
Councilperson Kimberly Metsch asked if the plan
should reach out to those not living within town boundaries
but using town facilities.
Parker said it was just a matter of money. “It will cost
more to broaden the scope but that’s certainly a possibility,”
she said. Parker said having a professional master
plan would cost in the neighborhood of $70,000.
Williams liked the idea of taking a regional approach
to the plan. “Maybe we can find places we [can] all benefit
from regionalization, whether it is Mt. Crested Butte
or Crested Butte South,” she said. “Places like recreation
or law enforcement.”
Rankin asked if it was too late for a master plan.
“How much is left to plan? Are we too close to buildout?”
Berkshire responded that more problems probably
come at build-out.
Town building and zoning director Bob Gillie asked
when the council would have used a master plan in the
last couple of years.
Williams said it could have come in handy during
the CBAR (Crested Butte Arts and Recreation) planning
process or during the horizontal zoning discussion. She
said it could also be used by new businesses coming to
town to get a feel for what the town is trying to accomplish.
Berkshire suggested a slow approach. Hess said he
would investigate web links to other master planning
sites. Williams suggested having another meeting to discuss
the issue in January.
“It is more important to do it right than do it fast,”
said Berkshire.
Gillie reminded the council they live in a small town.
“Sometimes I think we have an appetite for some of the
big things that the richer, bigger towns have,” he said.
“Remember, we have a small staff and we are still a small
community. There are times we can only be reactive.”

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