The vision casting stage of comprehensive master planning is like a discussion in a brew pub, said Dr. Sharon Friedman, retired National Forest Service geneticist and volunteer member of the El Paso County Planning Commission.
“Here’s a time when people get to talk about big stuff,” she said.
Friedman attended her first El Paso County Master Plan workshop, along with 20 other citizens, May 14 at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce in downtown Monument.
The planning and community development department of El Paso County hosted two meetings last week in Monument, one in Peyton, one in Falcon and one in Fountain. Citizens were invited to provide feedback and talk to County planners about the new master plan.
Carrie Johnson, owner of the building in Monument that houses Bella Art & Frame, was also in attendance at the Chamber and said she wanted to talk especially about water issues. And she wasn’t the only one with that subject on her mind. Brandon Nolin of Houseal Lavigne Associates of Chicago, the consulting firm hired to help with the master planning process, said he’s heard about water concerns at other workshops. The County established a Water Master Plan in 2018.
Nolin introduced the workshop part of the meeting and said the master plan process was “in that listening phase,” with meetings and surveys an attempt to document existing conditions and give the El Paso County Planning Commission the support it needs to recommend next steps.
A project outreach workshop questionnaire asks participants to:
• identify five issues or concerns confronting the county and individual communities and prioritize those;
• identify three projects or actions they would like to see in motion in the county, and;
• list the primary strengths and assets of El Paso County.
Friedman said at this stage, they want participants to imagine the best things that could happen in their community by asking questions like “How would we solve our problems if we had all the money in the world?”
Monument residents also brought up maintaining small-town character as the Town’s population continues to grow rapidly. Concerns included transportation, road maintenance and zoning issues.
“It’s a big corral,” Friedman said of the master plan discussion process. “Everybody gets to put their problems — like cattle — into this corral.
“But then, you get the water issues herded into a little clump and take them to the right ranch.”
El Paso County is the second largest county in the state with an estimated population of 713,856 and stretching more than 329 square miles. The Master Plan Survey is available at elpasoco.com.