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Pass Ordinances to Develop Vision

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Sandpoint's Paul Krames calls for ordinances

About a year ago I attended a meeting at the City Forum conducted by Tom Hudson. He is the man whose firm helped plan the downtown revitalization and is currently involved with developing parking strategies for Sandpoint. In attendance was the Mayor, as well as representatives from city council, county commissioners, Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, DSBA, other community leaders and ordinary citizens. At that meeting Tom acted as facilitator to elicit those things that folks hold most dear about our town. Tom counseled that any future plans regarding Sandpoint should seek to preserve and protect those aspects folks most cherish and to find ways to incorporate these “ingredients” as core elements for future planning.

Dick Hutter’s concern for historic preservation, for instance, is an excellent example of such a value. Tom was prophetic when he said growth of the town along with change was coming to Sandpoint (mind you, this was before the slew of national articles). He advised those in attendance that like it or not, you either embrace change and develop a vision and process for change, or else towns suffer consequences when others come in like bulls in a china shop (Tom gave some pretty dramatic examples of this in other towns) and affect change piecemeal.

I believe that an ordinance which allows taller buildings to be constructed as well as plans for a commercial boat moorage to be built adjacent to Swan’s Landing to be wakeup calls to begin in earnest a process to devise a plan to shape and influence the future Sandpoint.

If “town planners” allow resorts to build taller structures on the lake’s shoreline, how does that fit into the vision and future plan? Are we to become a resort community akin to Coeur d”Alene and then to allow the public driving access only through private resort property? Gambling is legal in Idaho. What if we had casinos here? Are casinos congruent with residents’ value system? If you allow developers to build bigger resorts, how much of the shoreline do you designate for the purpose? What are the trade-offs with the lake‘s role as a recreational resource, environmental impacts, etc., etc. How does it all fit in the plan? Where are we going? What is it that will define Sandpoint in the future?

Mr. Hudson recommended that developing a vision to shape future plans, needs to be broadly representative of the town’s residents and that this in itself was going to make it a tough and emotionally charged process. As a first step, I think some dialogue should begin in earnest NOW. To stir discussion, perhaps those values shared at that meeting can be printed in the Bee, River Journal and any other local publications. Items mentioned were written on big sheets of paper at the front of the room. It would create an opportunity for residents to “weigh in”. Maybe the debate will take on a life of its own, out of which some folks with guts (and yes differing opinions) and vision and concern for Sandpoint come together for the greater benefit of planning to shape the town’s future. To do it piecemeal and without a plan would in my opinion be tragic. There’s way too much great about where we live to let that happen! Leadership in this context is defined as, “The ability to compromise (oneself) to get the job done”.

Paul Krames, Sandpoint, Idaho

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