Paonia residents will receive a copy of "Envisioning Paonia's Comprehensive Plan: Utilizing diversity to move towards a self-sustaining community" before the end of the year. The document was written by Barbara Peterson, Paonia town clerk.
The last comprehensive plan for the town was approved in 1996. It has basically gathered dust the last six years and has rarely if ever impacted votes by the town council. Another criticism of that document was the lack of public input in the writing of the comprehensive plan.
Peterson saw the need to change how a comprehensive plan is written. To be effective, public input is necessary throughout the process. She also believes the finished product should be a living document utilized by trustees in making decisions.
Peterson felt that as town clerk she had a unique insight into the thoughts of elected officials, town staff and the citizens because of her daily contact with all of them.
To that end she received permission from the town council to participate in an opportunity provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. She was accepted into the New Directions Cathy Shipley Best and Brightest Internship program. This program allowed her to fulfill her necessary requirements for a Master's Degree in Political Science while continuing her full-time work as town clerk.
To achieve her master's she wrote her document on a new preliminary comprehensive plan for Paonia. "It is the intent of this article to assess the current situation in Paonia via examinations of existing resources, including the history, demographics, land use and human capital to formulate a preliminary document, providing starting points of discussion for Paonia's comprehensive plan. This article does not intend to be a final authority of the citizens of Paonia, but rather one researcher's vision of how Paonia may capitalize on its strengths to retain the quality of life found in Paonia," Peterson wrote. "This paper will address the problem updating the comprehensive plan to incorporate entrepreneurial endeavors that will diversify Paonia's economic base, thereby increasing the probability of a self-sustaining community that retains the character and values of its citizens, while planning for the future."
Wanting to make sure that the citizens would have their own copy of the document and submit comments, Peterson had asked the town council if copies could be mailed to Paonia citizens. Some council members balked at the cost of such an endeavor. They also questioned whether now was the time to be adding the work of a comprehensive plan to the staff's workload.
At last Tuesday's town council meeting, a workable solution was found. Police Chief Scott Leon suggested to trustee Corinne Ferguson that Paonia High School perhaps could deliver the plan to local residents. Ferguson contacted assistant principal Lindsay Molitor and the student council about whether juniors and seniors who do community service projects could hand deliver the plan. They agreed and said all that would be required of the town was a letter for their college applications acknowledging their community service. There will be no cost to the town other than for printing.
Peterson said the comprehensive plan document will be coordinated with North Fork Heart and Soul so as not to duplicate efforts in surveying the public. Heart and Soul wants to gather information on the core values of the citizens to be incorporated in future planning for the town. Hopefully this can be done in November or December following Peterson's training in Texas on how to translate value-based statements into legislative language for the comprehensive plan. The three days of training is being paid for by North Fork Heart and Soul.
Mayor Neal Schwieterman commented that Peterson has been integral to the efforts of Heart and Soul in Paonia, and that with the high school students' service, getting the comprehensive plan to the citizens is within the current budget. The project will proceed with the town council's blessings.
Once the plan is delivered, it will be up to the citizens to read the preliminary comprehensive plan, answer the Heart and Soul survey and submit their comments to town hall. The Town of Paonia wants active participation from its citizens in creation of the new comprehensive plan.blog comments powered by Disqus