Leaders want bolder ideas for the town’s future
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The Green Mountain Falls’ comprehensive master plan is in the final stages, with the last public open house held and a detailed set of strategic steps outlined for the town’s future.
However, the town’s elected leaders are not exactly ready to sign off on the draft plan, which began in the spring of 2018.
Elected leaders are urging the consultants to do something that previous critics accused the previous plan authors of devising: Coming up with more creative, pie in the sky options. In past efforts, many locals contended that the master plan had many ideas that just weren’t feasible.
Last week, Kristy Bruce, an environmental planner for Logan Simpson, gave the board an update on the master plan project that started in 2018. She mostly outlined the steps taken and the main thrust of the comp plan, which focuses on such subjects as hazard mitigation, economic sustainability, health and environment, traditional roots, development and growth and wildfire protection. A laundry list of solutions are outlined with a definite timeline for achieving these goals.
She stressed that the consultants tried to get much community input. “We got the sense that this is a unique place,” said Bruce. Moreover, the consultant identified Green Mountain Falls as a community where people desire to live.
However, with this love for the area, the town is confronted with many challenges, as identified in the plan.
That’s well and good, but we need more ambitious ideas, argued the trustees, in response to Bruce’s presentation.
“We are being constrained with what is around us,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Stevens. In essence, he contends that the draft plan is good, but that it maintains the status quo too much.
“We need to shake things up. I am not seeing these crazy ideas,” said Stevens. “Why don’t you fly to the moon,” quipped the mayor pro tem.
Stevens was referring to more futuristic plans and idealistic goals for the town, some of which could not be achieved due to fiscal limitations. But he believes it’s important that bolder visions are incorporated. “We tend to limit ourselves,” said Stevens.
He said it’s really up to the trustees to examine how these various ideas can be implemented.
Similar views were echoed by other trustees. Trustee Katharine Guthrie cited a lack of long-term visions with the current plan. They agreed with Stevens that the current draft product is mostly relaying the message: Let’s keep things the same.
Mayor Jane Newberry said she liked the style of the draft plan. But the mayor and the trustees expressed an interest in “exploring other ideas.”
One of these could deal with the subject of annexation. One idea mulled in an earlier meeting dealt with the prospects of generating more revenue and a larger tax base by incorporating nearby land areas into the town limits.
However, any annexation pursued would mostly likely be done on a voluntary basis.
This was one idea touted in the previous master plan that never saw the light of day.
Dick Bratton, a long-time resident, who is the city’s leader on the master plan, advised the trustees that the master plan is only advisory. “It is a moving target,” said Bratton.
Bruce stated that the consultants would address the trustees’ concerns in the final plan, expected to be completed at the end of this month. Ironically, the main criticism of previous master plan projects is that they established many lofty ideas that were impossible to implement.
The $100,000 planning project is being funded by the Kirkpatrick Foundation and the state Department of Local Affairs.
In other GMF news, Jason Wells publicly informed the board that his time in serving as the interim town manager will be limited. He reminded the trustees that he is pursuing a new opportunity as the owner/operator of the old Ancient Mariner establishment in Manitou Springs.
Wells, who previously served as the interim administrator for Manitou Springs, said he wants to revive the old bar/eatery and rename it as the Armadillo Ranch.