A coalition of Garfield County residents eyeing a tax-funded open space program will host a series of public open houses next week.
The group, Garfield Legacy Project (GLP), is gauging community support for a new sales tax, which would require a public vote, to support an open space program.
Beginning Monday, GLP is holding four community open houses to inform the public about the Greenprint for Conservation and Economic Opportunity and offer an additional chance for input. The Greenprint began last fall with a survey and community workshops that identified a set of land conservation goals, which were to preserve agriculture and wildlife habitat, protect water quality, enhance trails and recreational opportunities, and create open space buffers between communities.
Mary Noone, co-chair of GLP, said the Greenprint is designed to gauge community priorities for open space: “Ultimately, we hope to see the community create a funded open lands program, but it has to reflect Garfield County’s unique needs and values, so that’s the idea behind the Greenprint — to figure out what the Garfield County community thinks is most important.”
Following the survey and workshops, a steering committee and technical advisory team worked with Greenprint consultants to identify and map out areas that reflect the Greenprint goals. GLP member Phil Halliwell, who is also on the Greenprint Steering Committee, commended the balanced approach of the process.
“This is valuable because it isn’t about one use versus another use,” he said. “It says there are some places that we can achieve multiple benefits.”
The upcoming open houses are intended to allow people a chance to learn more about the Greenprint and offer their ideas. In addition to showing the asset maps, members of GLP will have a set of guiding principles that emerged during the project.
“The principles reflect specific issues or ideas we heard from people during the project,” said Dave Devanney, who co-chairs GLP with Noone. “The principles are not about what we want to preserve or create, but how we would do it. So, we have a principle that speaks to the voluntary nature of the program and one that talks about accountability, among others. Together, they provide guideposts as we set about designing a program that fits Garfield County.”
The open houses are scheduled for Monday at the Rifle Library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday at the New Castle Library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday at Carbondale Town Hall from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday in Glenwood Springs at the county administrative building from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.