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Economic development efforts continue
12/5/2008 By: Carole McWilliams
Bayfield's community economic development strategic plan is progressing, with a list of needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses that might be adopted on Dec. 11.
Town and county representatives, local business people and interested community members started working on the plan in April.
The process was led by town administrative intern
Jack McGroder, using guidelines from the University of Illinois Center for Economic Development.
Kristopher White, a member
of the Shadowwind Dancers, wore a white
fox pelt as part of his S Ute tribal
regalia as he danced during the
grand opening ceremonies of the new
Sky Ute Casino Resort on Saturday.
He presented a pared down list of needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the latest group meeting on Nov. 13. He also has a longer list in each category.
“The goals are what are new," McGroder told participants.
He listed draft goals for land use, infrastructure, business development, retention, and recruitment, workforce development, workforce housing, transportation, Mill Street revitalization, and community development including senior and youth activities, special events, and tourism.
Each of those categories will have their own sub-groups of participants. The Mill Street group has been most active so far, carrying over from the existing Downtown Business Association. McGroder wants participants to prioritize goals at the Dec. 11 meeting. He also wants to firm up commitments for who will be in each of those sub-groups.
In a memo sent to previous meeting participants, he said the strategic plan will do “nothing by itself, it is up to each of us to make the targeted goals into reality. So the most important aspect of this entire process remains the personal and business/ organizational commitments that we all share – it will be the human efforts going forward that produce these goals."
Meeting participants have discussed the industrial overlay in Gem Village, that allows businesses to start up there without having to jump through all the county land use hoops that they’d have to elsewhere. One of the suggestions was to expand that.
At least one business that started there has since moved into Bayfield. McGroder noted one of the issues to expanding the industrial overlay south of Highway 160 is the Colorado Department of Transportation’s long-term plans to reroute 160 to a bypass on the south side. Designations of future routes effectively become encumbrances on the private property, even though the projects and CDOT purchase of rights-of-way might not happen for many years.
Town planner Joe Crain commented of the Gem Village bypass, "I don't think that road will be built in my lifetime."
McGroder also brought up the perennial issue of a new grocery store. It’s a sensitive issue, since the town already has an established grocery store, he said, “but it keeps coming up. Ninety-five percent of survey respondents want it. The community very consistently says it wants broader selection.” The survey was done in 2004.
"We are losing so much of our grocery dollars to Durango," he said. The draft plan is available online at www.bayfieldgov.org. Click on the Economic Development link. Print copies are available at town hall and the library.
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