Snowmass sees green future
Vail, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colorado ” Snowmass Village might look a lot greener in the coming years if some of its residents have anything to say about the matter.
Village residents and representatives from Holy Cross Energy, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District, the U.S. Forest Service and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency met twice Tuesday to begin the process of developing an environmental action plan for the community.
The idea of a townwide environmental plan was proposed last year by a group of Snowmass Village residents, said Town Manager Russell Forrest. The town eventually stepped in to help guide and fund the process, he explained.
The public process is taking place alongside the public review of the updated Snowmass Comprehensive Plan, a document that guides community development.
“It’s no coincidence that this is occurring in a time frame to influence the comp plan,” Forrest said in the morning meeting.
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In two two-hour sessions, Rocky Mountain Institute facilitator Michael Kinsley guided brainstorming sessions regarding environmental concerns. Affordable housing and transportation emerged as popular themes, with the group echoing the Town Council’s general belief that Snowmass should aim to house all its workers who want to live there.
In addition, the morning group identified issues such as the need for more local, diverse retail to relieve parents from driving 40 miles to buy school supplies.
Many communities, including Snowmass, have done a lot to create sustainable housing, but have failed to establish “affordable retail,” Kinsley said.
“It’s interesting how we left that out,” he said.
Group members also discussed innovative ideas such as promoting permeable pathways (to cut down on impermeable surfaces such as driveways that send runoff contaminated with oil and other substances directly into streams and rivers), facilitating a variety of transportation modes within town, and improving regional recycling facilities so local recyclables don’t have to be shipped long distances.
Kinsley then asked participants to identify their top concerns. For the morning group, the top seven concerns were: energy consumption, affordable housing, the need for clustered development and/or transit-oriented development, water availability, recycling, building codes and how they guide development, and wildlife.
Participants in the afternoon session agreed with the priorities set by the morning group, and focused on possible guiding principles, said Jason Haber, Snowmass Village economic resource director.
They echoed the idea of energy conservation and locally renewable or alternative energy generation, said Haber. They also talked about creating attractive and usable trails, creating programs to meet needs that the free market won’t fill, creating incentives for good behaviors, providing opportunities for local carbon offsets and making recycling simple and obvious, he said. He added that they pointed out that preserving Snowmass Village’s environment is also a matter of economic importance.
The second set of public workshops will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15. Both meetings will cover the same agenda; they are being held at different times to accommodate different schedules. The workshops will focus on creating targets and performance indicators ” and on creating an environmental plan to guide Snowmass Village into a greener future.