30 October 2013: Floyd Hill shows divergent ideas for future

Floyd Hill shows divergent ideas for future

The unpleasantness that has arisen due to commissioners Tom Hayden and Phil Buckland reneging on their promise to protect open space atop Floyd Hill has to be looked at not as an isolated, local concern but from their decision’s meaning for the entire Clear Creek community.

There are several broad concepts we, especially our community leaders, need to keep in mind as we envision and create a pathway to Clear Creek of the future:

First, understanding the way things have worked no longer will is paramount.  The rules have changed with a new dynamic in play in a smart, sleek, instantaneous world that is no longer your daddy’s Buick.  It’s critical we assess our situation in context of this larger 21st-century culture and plan accordingly.  The old joke used to be you needed your kids to program your VCR.  The new reality: What’s a VCR?

In terms of the county’s practical fiscal concerns, there is no way we can replace dollar for dollar with commercial construction the anticipated revenue loss when Henderson curtails or ceases production.  That loss can only be mitigated by people, especially young families, taking up permanent residence and for visitors parting with more of their disposable dollars here rather than elsewhere such as in Summit or Vail.

A current untenable reality is that many of those who work to make this community function such as teachers and miners don’t consider Clear Creek their home, which in turn detracts from the wholeness and vitality of the community: financially, culturally, and socially.

According to Commissioner Tim Mauck, we “need to make significant investments in laying infrastructure that will attract the next generation of residents and young families,” including “workforce housing, broadband and health care services.”

Second, a healthy, sustainable, and dynamic community is contingent upon the harmonious synchronization of all its human moving parts—individuals, sub-groups (social, neighborhoods, towns, etc.), and businesses—in context of and in conjunction with its infrastructure, and we do ourselves a disservice if we look at key elements as separate pieces of the puzzle.

An unhealthy way to look at our population is from what might be called a Balkanization perspective that sees each town and out-lying neighborhood or region as separate and distinct from the whole rather than one of the many valued integral human centers essential to the well-being of the whole community.  In short, a viable Clear Creek community is contingent on the sum of all its co-equal human parts.

If we operate in the latter context—that what happens, for example, atop Floyd Hill does have direct bearing on those living in the west end of the county—then we are on our way to creating that desirable place to be not only in terms of work and recreation but also living.  Further, we cannot be working against the common good by concocting or allowing schemes that in the end will detract from it.

Case in point: Development atop Floyd Hill would compete with and have negative implications for redevelopment in Idaho Spring’s east end.  Another way to look at is development atop Floyd Hill is like investing in a VCR in a Netflix world.

Third, we need to look at our community assets.  What lies outside our front and back doors is first and foremost.  What many take might take for granted, others travel great distances to enjoy.  Yes, 80 percent of our land is undevelopable, but that can be an asset rather than a liability.

For me, another is our social and cultural make-up: our quirkiness, funkiness, and diversity.  Clear Creek is home to open-space loving conservatives and pro-development progressives.  We have two Republican commissioners elected at the same time we outperformed the state in support for Barack Obama.  Go figure.

As Mauck reminds us, Clear Creek is “an exceptional community” with assets that make it “attractive to young Colorado families: access to world-class outdoors, 30 minutes to a major metropolitan area and international airport, and an engaging population that spans economic-social classes that positively interacts with one another.”

Finally, I-70 is simultaneously our bane and our lifeline.  It’s up to us to figure which is the more powerful strain.  Mauck would like to see us “enhance our capacity to ‘mine’ the commerce travelling along I-70, much of which is recreational and tourism that is driving through our community.”

Clear Creek is facing a divergence on its path to the future: The old way of thinking that leads to social, cultural, and financial stagnation or the forward-thinking approach that fertilizes the soil and sows the seeds for a healthy, sustainable, and vibrant 21st-century community.  We get to choose.


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