Article

Gunnison 2030: Live. Learn. Earn.

2021 Honor Award: General Planning Project

by Anton Sinkewich, AICP

The City’s first comprehensive planning effort and community-wide guiding document since 2007 focuses on the development and activation of strategies and an implementation plan, focusing City resources and promoting interagency collaboration for the next decade. The plan includes specific actions to improve our City’s image and function for residents and visitors alike.

The Comprehensive Plan update process kicked off with an aggressive schedule in to be completed by the end of 2019 and formally adopted by City Council at the beginning of 2020. The accelerated schedule driven by a one-year adoption goal was ambitious and unique to the Gunnison 2030 process.

Beginning in January 2019, and continuing through April, consultants and City staff conducted 19 community focus group meetings and direct stakeholder interviews. These focused group meetings and one-on-one interviews were a chance for stakeholders to convey more specific information about their experiences living and working in Gunnison. The project team met with residents; City leadership; emergency service personnel; community facility representatives; business owners and operators; high school, university undergraduate and graduate students; senior citizens; ESL population, interagency staff, and other key stakeholders. Focus groups and interviews were organized around stakeholder groups with shared, common expertise or interest in key topics or fields, such as transportation, housing, and infrastructure. The primary goal of these interactions was to bring out nuanced information on topics in fine detail from specific perspectives while tapping into the local expertise in our Gunnison Valley community.

Another unique and innovative aspect of the plan was the City’s formation of a partnership with Western
Colorado University’s Master in Environmental Management Program to work with City staff, the consultant team, and the community to identify issues and opportunities for creating a more sustainable society. This partnership included discussions with various stakeholder groups related to water, energy sustainability, and solid waste, which was further informed by collaborative participation in the Gunnison Valley Climate Action Conference in January 2020, producing sustainability recommendations that touched all chapters of the Gunnison 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

An Issues and Opportunities Memorandum was drafted that represented the culmination of focused, initial outreach and data collection for the plan. From this point, there were ongoing opportunities for input through additional Community, Spanish Language, Business, and Visioning workshops.

In June 2019, City staff assembled six focus groups to address the six primary subjects that were identified by the community participants as key priorities to be addressed within the Comprehensive Plan. The key priorities were: housing; land use/growth; transportation and transit; economy; environment and sustainability; and image and identity. Participants in these topical focus groups worked to formulate vision statements, goals, and strategies, each intended to provide clear direction for the future. Invitations were sent out to each person that had participated in the process to date. Additional outreach for comments was solicited at public events such as the weekend Farmer’s Market and through the City’s email distribution list. At the end of July 2019, the workshop focus groups were reconvened for a second review and additional feedback. The refined Vision, Goals, and Strategies were reviewed and approved by City Council in August. These Vision, Goals, and Strategies were assembled into the final format of the Gunnison 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

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