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Upcoming seminar addresses growth and development

Elected officials, planners and community leaders from throughout Garfield County are being invited to take part in an eight-week series of discussions on how the new economy relates to planning and development issues.

Called the Community Development Academy, the forum is being organized by the Sonoran Institute, a conservation-minded land-use policy think tank working in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana and California.

A limited group of 25 participants is being sought to participate in the forum, which will run for eight Mondays starting Feb. 20, alternating between locations in Glenwood Springs and Rifle.



Participants will be selected through an application process. The deadline to apply is Friday, Jan. 27.

“This is an educational program we have used in different places, that’s about engaging leaders in a community on ways to develop and grow,” Clark Anderson, director of the Sonoran Institute’s Western Colorado Legacy Program, said in a recent presentation to the Garfield Board of County Commissioners.



Glenwood Springs City Council heard a similar presentation at its Jan. 19 meeting. Various other local government and community leaders in the county have been encouraged to apply as well.

The seminar seeks to engage elected officials, land-use planners and others in conversations with various experts and guest lecturers, through a series roundtable-type discussions. The seminar will cover a range of topics, including:

• Economic and demographic trends.

• Development challenges and opportunities.

• Community design strategies.

• How to strengthen existing communities.

• Linking community and economic development goals.

• Expanding housing and transportation opportunities.

• Regional coordination.

• Roles of local leaders.

“Each session will include roundtable discussion to allow participants to hear different perspectives, learn from peers and discuss specific challenges or opportunities in our region,” according to a description of the seminar.

Applying for selection to represent Garfield County will be Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who said he would like to bring a pro-business voice to the discussions.

“I have looked at your website, and my best take is that you are a conservation organization,” Jankovsky observed during a Jan. 9 presentation by Anderson and Jillian Sutherland, the Sonoran Institute’s project manager for the Community Development Academy.

“Philosophically, I am in favor of less government intrusion and less regulation, the rights of the private landowner, and free-market capitalism,” Jankovsky advised. “I find that if we don’t sit in on something like this, then there’s the potential that those views are not heard. I would like to be that voice.”

Anderson said while the Sonoran Institute is focused on conservation, it also recognizes that growth and development are inevitable.

“I think we are unique as a conservation organization, in that we really try to see all sides and be practical,” Anderson said.

“Instead of saying we don’t want growth, we’re an organization that says growth is good,” he said. “But, we need to figure out how to do it and attract the kind of growth that will benefit the community. That’s exactly what this is going to be all about.”

Expressing interest in representing Glenwood Springs were Mayor Matt Steckler and Councilman Mike Gamba.

For more information on the Community Development Academy or to apply, visit http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/cda, call Jill Sutherland at 384-4364 ext. 4002, or email jsutherland@sonoraninstitute.org.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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