24 June 2015: County needs a Henderson-closure czarina

County needs a Henderson-closure czarina

Besides specific actions we need to take to move forward given the closing of the Henderson Mine, there are at least two broader lessons we can glean from this experience especially in conjunction with the probable expansion of I-70 to Empire Junction: We’re on our own and it presents immense opportunity.

It’s empowering to operate from a sense of independence.  Clear Creek should no longer feel dependent upon CDOT and Vail Resorts for the opportunity to service travelers.

I want to be clear in my criticisms of CDOT and VR I’m not suggesting they’re evil operations conspiring to further their ultimate goal—to move more and more wallets to Summit and Vail as rapidly as possible—at the detriment of Clear Creek.  However, they are enterprises pursuing their own interests even those that are at the expense of Clear Creek.

As one reader and listener wrote me, I-70 is both “a resource and a pain.”  The highway is a pain in that it dictates life for us from determining travel times during peak seasons and enduring perpetual upgrades to fostering the boom-bust business cycle.

In addition to empowerment, acting independently would serve as a unifying force for the entire community.  As my reader/listener asserts, “We’re all on the same team. We’re now faced with an ultimatum: get smart, get together, and change nearly everything within 10 years.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Undoubtedly, we’ll need to rise above what he describes as the county’s “partisan divide” in which “many well-meaning, intelligent people talk past each other” and, I’ll add, identify first with a particular area or community—Idaho Springs, Floyd Hill, Georgetown, Fall River Road/St. Mary’s—rather than as Creekers.

What might help promote identification with Clear Creek is the realization that this presents an opportunity for all of us.  We can create a sustainable, more-than-human, as eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin calls it, community predicated on enhancing not only entrepreneurial opportunity but also a healthy and just place: environmentally, socially, and culturally.

By securing the Henderson property and developing it as an all-seasons recreation area, we can create an authentic alternative for patrons seeking a fun-filled experience without feeling compelled to endure the painful trek through the tunnels and perhaps over Vail Pass.

In short, we can create a new Clear Creek

All that will take work, planning, and an eye on the big picture, a task to more than fill the time of one person.

During my conversation with Clear Creek Economic Development Corporation director Peggy Stokstad and Commissioner Tim Mauck, which can be heard at www.kygt.org, I asked if it would be helpful for one person to oversee the whole process.  Stokstad replied she is a one-person operation and too often gets mired in the minutia.

“I’m a big picture type of person,” she stated.

I’m as well and so appreciate the frustration of getting bogged down in specifics.

Moving Clear Creek to a new paradigm on various levels requires a visionary who understands the old way no longer works and the future holds infinite potential.  Accordingly, the leader engenders an environment conducive to eliciting a wide range of ideas allowing their merits to determine whether feasible or not.

In short, the county needs a czar/czarina who knows the history, sees a big picture of possibilities, isn’t vested in seeing any win out over others, and is careful not to allow him/herself to get mired in the minutia.

We currently have such a person who fills that bill: Peggy Stokstad.

To that end, I am encouraging the CCEDC to restructure by being creative in how it funds itself, as Stokstad suggested, by redefining Stokstad’s position, and by bringing one or two others on board who would be in charge of ironing out details.

“Many positive items were discussed,” my reader/listener said about the radio conversation, “e.g. intra-county bus-service; discussions with major hotel chains; projects to increase healthcare services; upgrade image of CC County, both appearance and content; getting all CC communities working from the same sheet; others.

“All of these initiatives, and probably many others, are very positive for the county, but where is the integrated, comprehensive plan that states the major goals and then knits all required initiatives together?  The interview didn’t indicate that such a plan is on the board yet.”

The clock is ticking.  Less than a decade.  Time is nigh to act presently to shape our future.

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