20 May 2015: Clear Creek needs to think, act boldly

Clear Creek needs to think, act boldly

When preparing to write this column, I began by constructing an ideas list about intrinsic community assets young Americans expect or anticipate.  The list, which surely is incomplete, follows; but upon reflecting on it, I’ve come realize it can be summarized in three words: The American Dream.

The promise of America, whether for native-born youth or immigrants, is something that does separate us from most other nations.   It helps make us exceptional.

While roadblocks such as being born into extreme poverty, income inequality, corporatism, and racial and other bigotries work to sabotage one’s pursuit of the dream, it’s nonetheless there, it’s real, and it’s achievable.

The dream changes from generation to generation.  Studies and polls indicate today’s youth are far less impressed with accumulating material objects and more interested in establishing interpersonal connections and communications and pursuing life-fulfilling opportunities.  Old taboos, belief systems, and outlooks are falling by the wayside with new, fresh, and open perspectives taking their places.

Clear Creek provides a unique landscape and opportunity for those trying to realize their dream.  We’re a small community tangent either to a major transportation corridor or a well-developed area (Evergreen).  Further, we’re not dominated by a corporate conglomerate such as Summit County, which has morphed into a satellite of Vail.

I can continue, as you might as well, to identify what Clear Creek de facto offers, but suffices to say we are blessed and fortunate to be residents in and of this special gem.

Within in a decade or two however, the county’s character will look considerably different.  Demographically the largest group—55 plus—will have abided by one of nature’s laws and moved onto fertile ground.  In addition, our communications network will continue to evolve as will our modes of transportation.

With that in perspective, it’s time Clear Creek begins to charter its own course and not simply be the pawn of CDOT and Summit and Eagle counties.  It’s time to say, “We’re in charge here!”

The new course needs to coalesce around a dynamic, forward-looking vision and philosophy that states Clear Creek is no longer a conduit or corridor with pit stops and quaint pubs for travelers and recreation seekers.  It’s an end point.

As I wrote last week, the county should begin by securing the Henderson property and developing it into a world-class, albeit medium-sized, winter and summer recreation area.

As for rail to Vail forget it.  CDOT has no intention to build an Advanced Guideway System and Vail has no interest to fund it as long as they can build more lanes to give commuters the illusion of decreasing travel times and inconveniences.  An AGS will happen only when Vail’s business model becomes unsustainable.

In the meantime, Clear Creek ought to begin looking into doing its own thing in terms of rail: Light rail to Georgetown and Loveland and to James Peak via the Empire Valley from Idaho Springs.

While such a dynamic approach would draw the attention of young people and families, much more needs to be put into place.  To wit:

  • Affordable high density housing beginning in the “urban” areas: Idaho Springs, Empire, and Georgetown
  • Entrepreneurial and employment opportunities
  • Health care facilities
  • World-class educational opportunities: pre-k through 12 and even post-secondary
  • Pristine and natural environment
  • State-of-the-art IT infrastructure
  • Community media both print and radio…TV?
  • Mass modes of transportation not only within the community but also to Denver and DIA
  • Diverse communities
  • Cultural centers

Clear Creek’s large-scale mining days are numbered, never to return.  While fitting attention should continue to be made in terms of honoring that past through historical preservation, Clear Creek needs to begin looking to a future premised upon a whole different set of criteria.

Finally, it’s time to drive a stake into the heart of the I-70 Corridor farce.  The message needs to be loud and clear: We’re no longer Vail’s doormat.

It’s time to think and act boldly.  The American Dream can be had if we pursue it.

The question before us: How far down the rabbit hole of a future Clear Creek are we willing to go?

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