Invested in the community
Communities are composed of people, and their success depends greatly on how those people take care of each other and the place they share.
By that standard, Carbondale today is a resounding success.
As an elected official, I am constantly reminded of how much we care for this place and our neighbors by the scores of volunteers who commit their time and energy to better the community.
Darryl Fuller, chair of the town’s Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Commission, met with the town trustees on Tuesday and shared that volunteer group’s work to develop a rad bike park at the North Face park, help Carbondale become a gold-level bicycle friendly town and reiterate the need for some key trail connections, particularly along Snowmass Drive, which is a county road that runs along the east edge of town.
As the hour-long conversation progressed into a brainstorming session about how to make it easier to hoof it or pedal around town, everyone’s energy ticked up. We imagined ways to improve the experience for everyone at little or no cost. We schemed ways to get the money we need to expand the trail system to make key connections with the community.
We live in an age when consultants reign and everyone is looking for an “expert” opinion, but the fact is the real experts on Carbondale and its needs are the people who live here. The thought and energy that Darryl and his cohorts on Bikes, Peds and Trails have put into these matters is considerable, and reflect an intimate knowledge of our community. It was an invigorating conversation.
Carbondale lives on a budget, and a tight one at that. We don’t start our year out with much room for discretionary spending, and there usually isn’t much left to save at the end of the year. There’s something to be said for that, however. There really aren’t that many layers of bureaucracy in our town government and we don’t have a lot of extra cash for highly paid consultants. If we want something extraordinary to get done, we have to do it ourselves.
Our Parks & Recreation Commission recently completed a fantastic master plan that will guide the management and development of our facilities for years to come. The Public Arts Commission just finished installing the Art Around Town show on new marble bases that were donated by the quarry up in Mable. The Planning and Zoning Commission is hard at work on a unified development code that will determine how Carbondale grows and changes in the coming years. The Environmental Board continues to put on Dandelion Day each spring and press the town government toward better environmental policies. And Carbondale’s Tree Board provides the expertise needed to help maintain a healthy canopy.
And those are just the folks volunteering on our town boards. The fact is, the volunteers who coach at our schools and recreation programs, who sit on the boards of our nonprofits, who organize and staff weekly, monthly and annual events including Potato Days, Bonedale Bike Week, the full moon ride, the rodeos and the music in the parks series make our community shine.
The fact that we rely on volunteers to do so much here means things move a little bit slower. People have families and jobs to tend to before they attend a board meeting, donate their skills to the newly forming art district, organize a weed pull, spend a morning at Lift Up or separate trash from recyclables at Mountain Fair. That so much does get done is testament to our love of this place we call home.
So thanks to all the volunteers out there with all the organizations that make Carbondale hum. You may not be getting paid, but your contribution is priceless.
Allyn Harvey’s column appears monthly in the Post Independent. He is a Carbondale-based writer, PR consultant and member of the Carbondale Town Board of Trustees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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