Monday, March 7, 2016

Candidate profile from The Mountain Ear

Julie Gustafson hopes to strengthen community relationships

A Barker Road resident and Nederland school supervisor has qualified as a candidate for Town Trustee in the April 2016 elections. Julie Gustafson, 32 Barker Road, has been active with the Nederland PTA and Community Clothing Closet.
“My top priority if elected as a Trustee is twofold, but in my mind, inextricably linked –to strengthen relationships between the Board of Trustees and other community leaders and reinvigorate community volunteerism,” Gustafson wrote in a Mountain-Ear questionnaire. “Strengthening relationships between the Board and community leaders is important, and the time is now.
“The Board has in recent years dedicated Trustees to working with specific organizations and agencies local and regional. The myriad benefits of this have included learning from other mountain communities, connecting to new resources, and building a larger network; however, with limited Trustees this also spreads our people resources very thin,” Gustafson wrote.
“I would like to see Trustees prioritizing work with our local Boards and Commissions. This is not meant to exclude our role on important Boards and Commissions at the Regional or State level but to ensure we carefully evaluate what the top priorities are for our community and make sure the support is there first.
“For example, if the DDA Debt Authorization ballot passes, as I hope it does, it would be in the community’s best interest for a Trustee to be privy to the DDA’s project proposals as they develop and to synthesize the information for the rest of the Trustees. This would allow for concerns and challenges to be addressed prior to specific project proposals being presented to the Board for approval. By establishing that communication stream and regularly relaying information — we can mitigate unexpected challenges, avoid unnecessary conflict and progress more efficiently.
“Reinvigorating community volunteerism is crucial. So many community members and volunteers over the years have given their time, knowledge and skills to make our town the unique, eclectic community it is. A few challenges have arisen that have led some incredibly talented and resourceful people to step away from community volunteerism and I want to create an environment where those folks and new volunteers and staff choose to work together.
“Nederland has tackled planning for our future, from Vision 2020, to the DDA Master Plan and the Master Infrastructure Plan just to name a few. We are at a crucial time for uniting around the work ahead of us. I’d like to work with the town and one of the available online volunteer tracking databases (e.g., Volunteermatch or Volunteer Connection) to connect people in our community with the plethora of opportunities available to serve our community.
“Whether your interest is volunteering with your kids one weekend a year or finding a leadership position on a local board-as a town we should be able to facilitate this connection. If we are better able to link people to the work that interests them, more volunteers are likely to give more and we will all benefit.
“My second priority is to improve communication between the town government and the community. While being aware of the limitations imposed by Sunshine Laws, I’d like to identify communication avenues for the exciting happenings in town.
“I think this is especially important for community members who may work outside of town and miss opportunities to connect locally. For example, as the DDA advances its plans for traffic and non-motorized travel around town, and plans for signage improvements, is there an app the town can develop that displays our current events via community calendar? I want to make it easy for people to engage and be excited about town happenings.
“My third priority may be the most important; I want to promote efficiency in town governance and operations. I’ll come prepared to the Board meetings so the efficient operations can start there. I will be available to the Nederland community for voicing concerns, sharing ideas and connecting people to resources. I’ll also be available to Town staff to ensure that the Board is meeting its obligations and fostering a successful atmosphere for town operations.
“The most important part of The Vision 2020 document that is used to guide the Nederland Board of Trustees is the Nederland Vision 2020 statement. The statement demonstrates the shared values of our community — as identified by our community. In addition to informing the Board, the Nederland vision statement depicts our town, its make-up, direction and values, which is vital information for any person or business with interest in working in or with Nederland successfully.”
Gustafson has lived in the Big Springs community since the summer of 2006. Before that, for about a year and a half, she lived in an old miner’s cabin on Cold Spring Road. Born in Erie, PA, she grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and as a young adult lived in Georgia before moving to Colorado. Once in Colorado, she lived briefly in Federal Heights, Denver and Boulder before moving to Nederland in January of 2005.
Gustafson attended kindergarten through eighth grade at Holy Spirit School (K-8), Whitehall, Ohio, and Walnut Ridge High School, Columbus, Ohio. She received a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Ohio State University and attended the Front Range Community College in Westminster with a pottery focus.
Gustafson works as Campus Supervisor at Nederland Middle/Senior High School. “I bring my experience working in conservation and education to NMSHS by supporting outdoor learning and identifying and pursuing related funding opportunities to support the school, educators and learners,” Gustafson wrote.
“Last year, I applied to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) for funding to support the development of a natural play yard and outdoor learning area for NMSHS middle school students. While that funding did not come through, GOCO’s encouragement and student excitement led me to The Colorado Health Foundation, which is currently reviewing our application to fund these projects for our middle school students.
“Though I have lived here for 11 years, this is the first time I have gotten to know the kids in our community that are 12-18 years old. They are an incredible bunch! While most of my time is focused on supporting their good decisions (and deterring questionable ones) I also use the opportunity to try to advance environmental education and connection to the outdoors.”
Gustafson is happily married to an educator at heart who is also a Park Ranger, and they have two daughters attending Nederland Elementary School. She has served on the Nederland Elementary School PTA and as PTA Secretary during the 2014 2015 school year and is a volunteer for the Community Clothing Closet.
Gustafson also started the Halloween Candy Collection to support old time residents who show our youth the best Halloween trick or treating she has ever known. “As a full-time working parent, I recognize my time to volunteer in the community has been somewhat limited; however, as my children have gotten a little older and the opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees has come, I am excited to combine my interest in the community, policy and volunteering by serving on the Board, if elected,” she wrote.
“The Board should have or develop an understanding of the overall environmental health of our community using not only local resources and expertise but those afforded us by entities such as Boulder County and Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. Information gleaned from this knowledge should be used to inform local policies developed and adopted by the Board,” Gustafson wrote.
“In addition, the Board should be kept aware of what emergency response plans have been created for the Town of Nederland, identify if there are gaps in available plans and lead the work to develop comprehensive plans to address the myriad environmental health challenges that could arise in our community. Lastly, the Board should ensure the community has access to the plans and the information they can use to protect their families, neighborhood and property.”
Regarding meeting the needs of families in the Town, Gustafson wrote that the Board should continue to provide an opportunity at each meeting for community members to be heard relative to their concerns. “In addition, community members and families need to know they can reach the Board by email or phone call.
“Town staff should remain the first primary contact for families — to address their needs as they are aware of resources to meet those varied needs; however, the Board should recognize, acknowledge and appropriately address needs trending through and affecting the community. For example, if one family is unable to find housing that meets their needs and budget, it is not a Board issue, but when many families, month in and month out, cannot find housing that meets their needs, it becomes a Board issue as it affects and alters the community as a whole.
“When an issue reaches this level, it is imperative the Board collaborate with Town leaders (Planning Commission, developers, investors and others) to identify an array of possible solutions, including policies to ease the burden on families, and support our community as a whole. The Board must then choose which avenues to take in addressing this challenge and communicate effectively with those impacted and the entire community, what solutions are being employed and what the expected outcome is.
“Nederland’s Master Infrastructure Plan identifies and prioritizes the town’s infrastructure needs by neighborhood and category: water system, sewer system, roadways, storm water and drainage. It also provides cost estimates for planned improvements and funding opportunities available to offset costs that will be incurred by town.
“The Board of Trustees must take the plan from the 50,000 foot level (or planning level) and bring it down to 10,000 foot level (mapped out for implementation). The Board must choose which projects to undertake immediately and oversee the implementation phase of those projects.
“The Board also must continue to recognize the importance of sustainability in our approach to this work, without letting it become a barrier to its completion. Lastly, the Board must be sure to communicate with the community what projects are undertaken, the budget, the expected impacts to the community during construction, and, of course, the benefits of the project completion.
“The Board of Trustees should work closely with the Downtown Development Authority to encourage and support business development. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will plan for improvements, projects and programs in the downtown area to benefit the businesses as well those they serve.
“Their work will only be able to advance with the Board’s support. The Board liaison to the DDA must ensure a clear line of communication between the two entities so that as proposals come before the Board for a vote, there aren’t surprising obstacles that make it difficult for the community to advance work toward common goals. The Board should also consider how its support of events in our community can support our local economy, enabling business to not just survive but thrive year round.
“The Board of Trustees needs to address marijuana as it does liquor and beer. The Board must ensure that decisions regarding retail marijuana and related cultivations are in line with the current state regulations and our town’s existing ordinances.
“Well-planned and executed cultural events in town can and should provide an inviting atmosphere for locals and tourists. The Board’s role in cultural events being hosted in town is to provide a place for discussion and consideration of such events and their impact on the community. As necessary the Board must vote to provide required permits for such events.
“I expect the Board to consider the feedback of all people and businesses impacted by proposed events and make an informed decision regarding each event based on that community input. Beyond the potential for economic development, I would like and expect the Board to consider such questions as: Is this event family friendly? Does it adversely impact a particular neighborhood? Can the event mitigate those impacts? Is it congruent with the community in which it is being hosted? Does it highlight the community? Does it make sense for it to be here? Will it support our existing local businesses?
“Will it impact the land where it is held? What will the cost be to the town – in staff and resources? Will this be an annual event? Will it grow over time and how will that change its impacts? In weighing these questions and the community feedback the Board will best be able to support events that fit our community and support our local economy.
“The Board of Trustees’ role moving forward should be to work with the Nederland Police Chief and Police Department to identify areas of focus for the Nederland PD to serve the community. The focus areas need to address both where the need for patrolling and enforcement is, and what the challenges are. The PD focus will then reflect the concerns of our community.
“The Board and Ned PD must maintain avenues of communication to revisit focus areas and make adjustments according to the community’s ever changing needs. The Board’s role in this process is especially important as most of the Nederland PD officers live outside our community.
“While they spend significant time here, they may not have a full understanding of our community,” Gustafson wrote. “By working together to identify and address the safety challenges in our community, we can be a safe and welcoming, as well as an exemplar in community policing.”Julie Gustafson hopes to strengthen community relationships

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