10 November 2010: CCC: A Sustainable Community – Pt. I

Clear Creek is a great place to live

(First of a multi-part series on “CCC: A Sustainable Community.”)

Sorry, gentrified NIMBY’ers, no electronic gate will be installed atop Floyd Hill. The voters’ message sent vis-à-vis the commissioner’s race and the school mil levy override is that Clear Creek is open for business.

Yogi Berra advises that when coming to a fork in the road, take it. The 2010 election may prove to be a pivotal choice between two forks. The question of whether CCC citizens expect the community to avoid the path of deconstruction so to rebound from the doldrums to once again become a vibrant and sustainable one has been answered.

The commissioner candidates offered decidedly contrasting visions for CCC 2.0. It was fun to watch Tim Mauck morph from being the perceived anti-development candidate in the Democratic primary against Dan Ebert to the perceived pro-development one against Republican Mark Kline.

In response to my question about his moving from being duly-appointed to duly-elected, Mauck told me he is “exceptionally humbled by the support from the voters and sincerely appreciate the clean campaign Mark Kline ran.”

“But now the hard work begins, and I look forward to continuing to reach out to our residents to move our County forward.”

Forward, as in “selling the complete package of living in Clear Creek,” the thought he expressed during the presentation by the Clear Creek Economic Development Corporation to the BoCC on October 27.

Given that communities stagnate without a strong system of public education, the school district getting much-needed cash intravenously might be more revealing given the tough economic circumstances. Call it long-term fore-planning with foresight, all too scarce in 21st-century America. Mauck calls it’s “an investment into our schools and community that helps us along that road tremendously.”

Trish Kintzele, chair of the Strong Schools, Strong Communities, reflecting on voters giving 3A a thumbs-up said, “Our kids will not feel the impact of this. Their lives will go on as usual. They will continue to get a great education and have opportunities to play sports, take Advanced Placement classes, and do all the other things that make Clear Creek schools great.

“Our families won’t feel the impact of increased fees, overcrowded classrooms and reduced choices for their kids. Our neighbors won’t feel the impact of a housing market declining due to poor quality schools.”

Board of Education President Peter Monson echoed the theme of voters recognizing the correlation of a successful public education system with a sustainable community.

“Tuesday’s victory for the mill levy override (3A) in these difficult economic times demonstrates that Clear Creek County voters care about the future, for the good of the District’s students and the County as a whole.

“Strong schools do lead to strong communities. The successful mill levy vote is a positive step forward in leading us out of these hard times. I feel very optimistic for the education of our students and for the future of Clear Creek County.”

To Trish’s point, though, about the kids not feeling the impact of 3A, I suggest, “not yet.” Some, if not many, graduates will remain in or return to Clear Creek, as have their parents. A decade or two of hindsight will provide that realization.

Obviously, we’re far from being out of the woods. While 3A serves both as a statement and a prescriptive measure, much needs to be done to prime the engine of local economic development.

The 800-pound gorilla in the community continues to be the question of the Henderson Gap, the date when the mine stops production: How will we replace two-thirds of our tax base?

At the CCEDC’s presentation to the Board of Commissioners, Ed Rapp, President of the Clear Creek Watershed, argued that we are “not marketing ourselves for the value we have” such as in the areas of energy and mining.

“We’re not even scratching the surface of our potential,” Rapp insisted.

That was the consensus of the couple dozen audience members, primarily small-business owners who, like millions of other Americans, are the real engines of sustainable growth.

Peggy Stokstad, President of the CCEDC states, “CCEDC has always promoted a healthy and vibrant community and supported the need for a strong diversified economy. We believe that not to do so will put Clear Creek County in a position where we may not be able to sustain when the Henderson Mine eventually closes. The Mine is a tremendous partner and support to the community now, but as a community we need to take responsibility for our economic future.

“Yes, we better be open for business.”

Trish likely speaks for many when she says, “I am so proud to live in CCC where we value and protect our way of life, where WE decide what kind of community we live in. As Hillary said, ‘It takes a village,’ and, well, this is the best village anyone could hope to be a part of.”

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