Pitkin Community Meeting: July 23, 2018

by Pitkin News july 23, 2018

COMMUNITY FORUM BUILDS CONSENSUS ON CRITICAL ISSUES AFFECTING TOWN OF PITKIN

Kimberly Bullen of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) facilitated a community discussion about critical issues affecting Pitkin at a Town Hall meeting held Monday, July 23. Ms. Bullen led the approximately thirty participants, including five Town Council members, through a discussion of Pitkin’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). After discussing the four categories of issues affecting Pitkin the group identified several top priority issues which will be discussed in more detail at afuture meeting hosted by DOLA.

STRENGTHS

Quite a few issues were identified under the SWOT categories and for each category the numerous issues were consolidated into topic headings that encompassed all similar issues. Under the category of Strengths the main topics identified related to quality of life, a safe community, community engagement and the attractiveness of Pitkin as a place to live and recreate. Quality of life issues viewed as strengths by the participants included climate, location, and access to public lands. There was quite a bit of discussion about community engagement, including the history of volunteerism, involvement of second homeowners, and passion of participants.

WEAKNESSES

The discussion of Weaknesses revealed a number of concerns about the community as participants acknowledged the community provides limited services and struggles do deal with enforcement issues. The main topics which summarize community weaknesses include financial management, infrastructure, local government functions, and community ducation. There is as concern that deficit budgeting and lack of revenues continues to challenge the Town and some in attendance believe that second homeowners should have a vote in local governmental affairs, particularly taxes. Infrastructure concerns relate to lack of law enforcement, unreliable and slow Internet services and no public water or sewer services. Weaknesses in local government relate to lack of code enforcement of various local ordinances, the unresolved short term rental regulation issue, snow removal, and credibility of the local governmental structure.

OPPORTUNITIES

This category involved a discussion of actions and resources which might be available to assist Pitkin in working toward the future and addressing some of the community’s challenges. Topics that summarize the numerous Opportunities available to Pitkin included citizen engagement, tourism, resources to help local government, and business growth. The identified local government opportunities indicated the participants believe Pitkin should take advantage of state assistance programs and work to become more involved in intergovernmental workings in Gunnison County, such as the local tourism bureau. Capitalizing on access to adjacent public lands and improvement and repair of the Alpine Tunnel road and historical site were also listed as Opportunities. Citizen engagement opportunities included more, or return to, volunteer involvement in government operations and working towards more cooperation among community members.

THREATS

Discussion of this category addressed a number of items that may make it difficult for Pitkin to resolve community concerns. Main topics included local government challenges, infrastructure, quality of life and community engagement. Local government shortcomings include lack of code enforcement, the unresolved short term rental issue, deficit budgeting, and snow removal arrangements with Gunnison County. Community engagement threats include failure to resolve key issues (STR), rumors, and lack of knowledge and understanding of issues. Quality of life concerns include condition of the forest, wildfire threats and the condition of the Alpine Tunnel.

CONSENSUS

Following a nearly two hour discussion of SWOT categories the DOLA facilitator gave each participant the opportunity to cast six votes for what each believed to be the most pressing issues facing Pitkin. Once everyone cast their votes seven topics were identified to be the most important to the participants. By consensus through the voting process the following are areas, which will be addressed in more detail in future discussions, include:

*Lack of Enforcement of local codes and ordinances.

*Taxation without representation (second homeowner representation in local government decisions).

*Resolution of the regulation of short term rentals.

*Voter intimidation (numerous voter challenges in past two elections and lack of understanding of Colorado voting laws).

*Town Council reactive rather than proactive – need to set priorities and budget accordingly.

*Council needs to adopt Best Practices Management tactics to set priorities and be fiscally responsible.

*Alpine Tunnel repairs and preservation

With consensus on the top seven issues developed the next step in the process will be to hold another facilitated workshop when the issues can be discussed in greater detail and goals can be set to identify how these topics can best be resolved. It should be noted that the Council is in ongoing discussions about the short term rental issue, including a special workshop on Tuesday, July 24, to specifically discuss the parameters of an upcoming special election on a short term rental permitting procedure.

You may listen to the audio recording of this meeting by following this Link.