Crested Butte prepares to focus on Community Compass planning process

Start with the fourth graders, finish with Junk

[ By Mark Reaman ]

Given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the valley, the expected launch of Crested Butte’s Community Compass planning process has shifted. Instead of starting off this week with a couple of relevant films and panel discussions, a “soft launch” was started with Crested Butte Community School fourth graders to solicit their ideas of what they see in their future.

The Community Compass is the town’s long-term, comprehensive planning initiative that is expected to take months to complete. The town staff plans to focus on copious public input over the next several months before releasing a completed document next summer. The formal launch of the endeavor will happen October 7 with a “magazine insert” in the Crested Butte News that will be accompanied by a corresponding landing page website. Ideally, a completed document will be released next June.

Community development director Troy Russ said the first step in creating the Compass is to “find our bearings. What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing Crested Butte and the North Valley? How do we measure our core values when it comes to our community and our quality of life?”

In a memo to council he said that if “done properly, a Comprehensive Plan provides citizens a voice in envisioning and guiding a community’s future and identifying public needs and priorities of the community. Specifically, Comprehensive Plans help create a foundation in the establishment of a ‘rational nexus’ for community planning initiatives and town council decisions to follow and adhere to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. The rational nexus is simply a coherent connection between the identification of a need and the determination of an appropriate solution.”

He explained the effort will result in the community identifying likely trade-offs that it is willing to make to achieve its long-term goals. He wants robust input from all citizens and expects participation from Mt. Crested Butte and the county.

Councilmember Jasmine Whelan said it was important to include the service workers of the community and so holding standard evening meetings would not be enough.

Russ explained that the plan was for staff to use creative ways to engage the community. “We will be going to the community, not waiting on them to come to us,” he promised. “We will be at happy hours and business staff meetings, whatever we can do to get to people and solicit their input.”

“Look for us at the trailheads this winter handing out hot chocolate,” added town planner Mel Yemma. “We’ll be sitting there at soccer games or hanging out on the benches on Elk Avenue. We want everyone’s ideas.”

Troy promised that the films, Born from Junk and High Country, along with the panel discussions would not be forgotten and would instead take place this March.

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