Snowmass brings on, welcomes new community development director
Last week, the town of Snowmass Village gained a new community development director to head planning, growth and land use for the village.
That new director is Dave Shinneman, a Midwest native who has headed community development in the Denver area since the late ’90s.
For Shinneman, the opportunity to move from Broomfield to Snowmass Village is one of transition and getting back to what he loves most about community planning — helping guide development and design in a hands-on, highly involved way.
“I wasn’t looking at moving up into taking on more people and bigger communities, I wanted to get back to the work I enjoy and really care about,” Shinneman said. “Snowmass is an area we’ve (Shinneman and his wife, Birgit) always wanted to live and when I came to interview here everyone I talked with confirmed that.”
In late June, former community development director Julie Ann Woods announced her plans for retirement, sparking the town to begin the process of finding a new director.
A few dozen candidates and rounds of interviews with town staff, Town Council and Planning Commission later, Town Manager Clint Kinney said Shinneman was selected for the job for his breadth of experience and professionalism.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of experience and he’s been doing this for a long time,” Kinney said of Shinneman, noting that the town had a number of really great applicants apply for the community development director position. “I think his approach and processes are really aligned with the community on how things can be done, and at the end of the day he proved himself to be very professional and was a top candidate.”
On a recent morning, Shinneman talked over the phone with the Snowmass Sun about his career in community development and planning, starting in college in northern Arizona when a professor “very much into town planning” influenced him to pursue a career in the field.
A business and computer programming graduate, Shinneman said he went on to pursue a master’s degree at Florida State to help him focus on community development and planning.
He said Florida was a very good training ground as he started in the field, working with small communities as a planner to help guide growth in a sustainable way.
“I really, really loved it because I was just involved with everything that helps a community grow from transportation and housing needs to development needs, working with residents, businesses and councils to incorporate their vision and get things done,” Shinneman said.
“There was a lot of growth in Florida at the time so it was very fast-paced and fast moving but the beach communities wanted to retain their identity, and that’s similar to what I see here in Snowmass.”
But although Shinneman felt he learned a lot from his time in Florida, he and his family knew they wanted to end up out west in the Colorado mountains. That’s why in 1997 they made the move to Westminster.
Shinneman spent the next 23 years working on a variety of projects in the Westminster and Broomfield areas, ranging from helping design an urbanist community and pocket parks in Westminster, to the collaborative work on the Arista community and urban transit village in Broomfield.
“It was a fun time, there was a lot going on,” Shinneman said.
But in recent years, Shinneman said he’s gone from primarily doing hands-on planning and design work to more detached employee and finance management. Through taking the job in Snowmass, he hopes to get back to direct community development work and to be a more inclusive member of the local community.
Shinneman said he was really drawn to Snowmass’ focused efforts on housing, multi-modal transportation, protecting open space and the environment, and feels the town’s goals and values are very much aligned with his own.
“I was at a point of working with 50 to 60 employees in a department and getting into a job that was mostly just management and working with the numbers and the budgets and out of the planning and design field,” Shinneman explained.
“I wanted to have some balance in my work life and to also enjoy the work, and when you’re a manager of 50 to 60 employees with at any one time 15 to 30 projects, you’re not truly involved in the work that I enjoy. … I’m really excited to be in a place where I can do more of the work I enjoy, play and enjoy life and really be a part of the community.”
So far Shinneman said he’s settling in well and doing his best to get up to speed with the ongoing town projects and proposals. Moving forward, he hopes to really engage with the community, listen to their thoughts and concerns, and to help Snowmass continue to be the best community it can be.
“I really enjoy being a part of the community, not just coming and working and going home,” Shinneman said. “What I’m doing right now is really taking my time to listen and understand what the community’s desires and concerns are and then work on a plan to help support that.”
“Looking at projects, I don’t want to move things through too quickly. I want to understand what the community’s goals are, what the community’s vision is. I want to make sure we take the time to do it right,” Shinneman said. “I’m here to help the town achieve it’s goals and to really help it see those goals come to fruition.”