Aspen electeds get clearer vision for 2020 |

Aspen electeds get clearer vision for 2020

Facilitator Michelle Ferguson on Tuesday with Aspen City Council during its 2020 retreat.
Carolyn Sackariason/The Aspen Times

2030 headlines by Aspen city council members

The following are headlines conjured up by Aspen City Council members when asked what they want their town to look like a decade from now:

“Aspen houses 70 percent of the workforce in housing program” — Ann Mullins

“Aspen celebrates car free downtown; residents divided, guests love it” — Ward Hauenstein

“Entrance to Aspen, new bridge construction begins” — Rachel Richards

“Ribbon cutting for new senior housing today” — Rachel Richards

“Aspen, once known for Prada now known for community; voted No. 1 in country for connection and kindness” — Skippy Mesirow

“Aspen named happiest and healthiest in U.S.” — Torre

With their second retreat in less than a year under their belts, Aspen City Council members this week now have better clarity on what they plan to accomplish in 2020.

Council members convened Monday and Tuesday with facilitator Michelle Ferguson from Novak Consulting Group and four department heads to hone priorities and goals that were established last year.

Goals around affordable housing, the environment and child care were areas that council members found themselves in alignment when they held a retreat last July, which was only a few weeks after they were sworn in.

At that time, there was no permanent city manager in place or process to determine a performance evaluation for the position, Mayor Torre said.

Since then, council has hired Sara Ott as the city manager and given her marching orders for the more than 325 employees within the organization.

Council also is closer to crafting a mission statement for the city as an organization, which is aimed at giving purpose and meaning for the staff, elected officials and the public.

It also serves as a foundational statement for preparing detailed documents like strategic plans, communications approaches, and recruitment and community relations, according to Ott.

She said this week’s retreat validated the work she and her team have been doing since council members drafted their goals last fall and gave clarity to them this week.

“This retreat provided opportunity for meaningful and thoughtful discussion on the priorities for 2020,” she said after the gathering. “The discussion reaffirmed the strong commitment to protecting our natural environment, while implementing solutions to our community’s affordable housing and child care needs.

“I’m looking forward to implementing the direction from the City Council over the next year.”

She said during the retreat Tuesday that the city is getting close to an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Mountain College for it to provide early-childhood education opportunities to local families.

The city also is working with the state to find funding for early-childhood education, as well as from private donors, Ott noted.

She said the city will likely launch a public outreach campaign on childhood education’s importance to the community.

A couple of the 13 goals established last fall fell off the list but were put in different tiers of priority to make it more manageable for city staff.

But whatever level of priority they are, council still plans to tackle affordable housing, both new and existing inventory, as well as finding capital funding sources for an aging storm water system and addressing energy inefficient buildings, among other work that is already underway.

Torre said he’s satisfied with this week’s two-day gathering being built off of last summer’s retreat when strategic focus areas also were established.

Combined, the two retreats cost the city $10,000.

“This is another step going toward value-based decision making and budgeting,” Torre said. “To get policy going it has to be clear to have it carried out and it’s been unclear until now.”


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