High Plains Initiative public workshops discuss future growth
A series of public workshops scheduled in Platte and Goshen counties will be held Oct. 11 through Oct. 14 to provide residents the opportunity to voice their opinion on how they would like to see the area grow in the decades to come.
“This goes back to the Building the Wyoming We Want (BW3) program started by the Governor in January 2008,” explains Platte County Commissioner and rancher Dan Kirkbride. “They offered a more local program in the spring of 2009, and both Platte and Goshen County applied and they chose to combine us into a single program.”
The High Plains Initiative states that their process is focused on engaging citizens and stakeholders in activities that explore growth issues, and developing a range of scenarios and activities that explore the potential growth issues and choices. They also focus on developing a range of scenarios based on public preferences, and ultimately hope to create a vision and strategy for Goshen and Platte counties based on the values of the residents.
“We need participants from all walks of life to come together to brainstorm solutions for our long-term future and determine how we can protect our safe, friendly communities in light of an estimated 24 percent growth in population for Platte and Goshen Counties by 2040,” notes High Plains Initiative Steering Committee Co-Chair Cindy Witt.
In preparation for the workshops, phone and computer surveys have been conducted with local residents to provide a baseline of important issues.
“One thing we will discuss at the workshops is what people really like about how things are today,” explains Kirkbride. He adds that both counties are subject to potential oil development, and that topic will also be presented. Growth trends and land use are additional topics on which attendees will have the opportunity to weigh in.
“People want to preserve small, friendly and safe communities with good educational opportunities. They want to improve job availability, health care and would like to see a recreation facility incorporated,” adds High Plains Initiative Steering Committee Co-Chair Julie Kilty.
“Part of the evening will be a time when people can voice their opinion to questions through clickers. Individuals will punch in their response to a question, then the entire groups responses will be displayed on a screen, showing how many were for, how many were against and how many were undecided on a specific question,” explains Kirkbride. “Another part of the evening will be spent on mapping exercises. Prepared maps showing projected growth in the counties will allow people to discuss their preferences in as much as those things can be shaped.”
The information gathered from the meetings will be compiled into a document for public officials to use in making future decisions.
“The document will act as a jumping off point for communities to show how they may want to move forward,” comments Kilty.
“The end product will be useful for public officials at every level. State, county, municipal, district and board members will all have access to it,” adds Kirkbride.
“I encourage everyone from youth to seniors to be involved and attend a workshop to tell us what you want. Whether you are a student, landowner or business owner, this is an opportunity to think together about what we want to preserve so this region will be a great place for our children and grandchildren, built on the values of our countys’ residents,” says Kilty.
“I’m excited, there are over 20,000 county residents invited, and anyone from outside the two counties is more than welcome to sit in,” comments Kirkbride.
“I also think it’s a chance for a lot of people to see both sides of the issues. They can shape the development by providing incentives to grow in certain ways, which I feel is really positive. I hope a lot of people will show up and be a part of discussing these important issues,” adds Kirkbride.