Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chopsticks: Ron Mitchell and Joni Mitchell

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Ron Mitchell and Mayor Joe Gierlach
I had a chance to stop in Ron Mitchell's redevelopment open house last Sunday, and it looked like a big production, perhaps a bit overwhelming. There was a wooden framework used as a mock-up with the different streets and phases of the project labeled on the floor. I hung out for a while on each of the four sides of the framework with drawings attached, and listened to people. As time went on, I learned about different details and features that have been worked into the plan. He has a dream, he has been talking to local folks and put a lot of thought into it, for at least 20 years. His community pride shows through as he explains the project.

For people completely new to Ned, (or who have been cryogenically frozen and unaware) Ron's property is located in the core of downtown and the existing buildings are falling apart, inefficient and need substantial repairs, so keeping the status quo is not a sustainable option. We do know that whatever happens at that location will impact the character of our town, for the better, worse or somewhere in between. At this point, I can only assume that he is not planning to sell the property to an out-of-town developer, Walmart, or Red Roof Inn for that matter.

I cannot comment on the plan itself, but I have to credit him on a solid process. Ron, is asking for community input to 'preserve and enhance the character of Nederland'. We are fortunate that he is reaching out to the community. Another developer, (Target, Boston Chicken, or a Super 8 motel) would not do that.

The rules on development in town are clear so that it is fair to the property owner and the townspeople. Ron has a right to due process, which is dictated by the Nederland Municipal Code; more specifically Chapter 16 Zoning, and Chapter 18 Building codes.

The Board of Trustees have adopted the Nederland Planning Process (NPP) to increase community input for public projects and events. Property owners are not subjected to the same rigorous community involvement, yet Ron has elected to do so on his own. I have to respect him for that. In addition, he has listed twenty-four ways that his plan adheres to the Envision 2020 vision statements.

Ron will be conducting open houses on the next two Sundays as well. (March 24 & 31 from 4:00-8:00pm at the Community Center)

I believe that our town planning process is effective for solving problems and filling needs in our community in order to evolve sustainably in our own Nedhead way. Our solutions may seem unusual compared to the homogenized American model, but in many ways it is far superior. For me, chopsticks come to mind. A product invented on the other side of the world – cheaper to make, easier to use (once you get the knack for it) and possibly healthier for us. There are places that have evolved separately too. New Orleans, with its Creole language, Cajun cuisine, Jazz Music, and French Quarter culture. Switzerland, where all the doors and windows open a little bit differently. The indigenous communities of the American West, or Buckminster Fuller and the Geodesic dome.

In Nederland, we have a distinct culture with artists, musicians, even our own time zone. As a community, we have an opportunity to pursue the 'rebirth of the village' concept in the Peak to Peak region. An interconnected network of services where each area plays a role. As a town, we have a huge advantage in that we don't have to figure out what to do with the vacated Albertsons. Instead, we have an opportunity to provide input on an area in the middle of our business district that can have a profound impact on our community.

Please take the time to attend one of the next two open houses. Be respectful and listen to where some of the ideas have come from. Then have the courage to tell him what you would do in his situation. What would  you do to 'preserve and enhance the character of Nederland'? I'm grateful for the opportunity.

[Here is a Video Valediction] I'll leave you with The Songbirds Festival: Everyone sings "Big Yellow Taxi" including Ned local singer/songwriters Gabrielle Louise and Lara Ruggles[What is a Video Valediction?]

I couldn't resist the Joni Mitchell cover, but these women are incredible in their own right:

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