Silverthorne is creating its first sustainability strategic plan and wants community input

Part of Silverthorne is pictured from Dillon Dam Road on March 9, 2024. Silverthorne is working towards making its first sustainability strategic plan.

By Kit Geary/ Summit Daily News

This January, Silverthorne embarked on a six-month planning process to curate its first sustainability strategic plan. A finalized plan is slated to be reviewed by Silverthorne Town Council on July 10.

Energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, waste reduction, landfill disposal, mobility, public transportation and greenhouse gas reductions will be focuses in the report. Council members requested the creation of a sustainability strategic plan in 2023 since the town previously didn’t have one. They received an update on the planning process on March 13.

Silverthorne awarded Western Urban Sustainability Advisors, or WestUrb, with a contract following a bidding process. WestUrb brought in engineering firm, AECOM, and Aspire Sustainability, a consulting firm based in Breckenridge, to assist in the project. This same team also helped Breckenridge update its sustainability plan in 2022. Breckenridge’s plan update won the Honors Award in environmental and sustainability planning from the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association. 

Jerry Tinianow with WestUrb led the presentation to council and informed them the plan is on track and on budget. He said the team behind creating the planning wants to ensure it is really customized for Silverthorne and heavily pulls on input from the community and council. 

He said the goal is to have a plan for the council to vote on in July.

“Typically, other projects like this go 12 to 18 months, but we did it in six months in Breckenridge. I’m confident we can do it,” Tinianow said. 

He explained right now the process largely involves input from various stakeholders, and the town has formed a staff coordinating group to help inform the contractors. Additionally, they are analyzing data. He said data did have some gaps in it, but this is usual for a town that previously didn’t have a sustainability plan. Deanna Weber of AECOM followed and added some input to help them create the focus areas of the plan. 

“When we look at this, it’s not in silos. We’re looking at synergies and strategies and co-benefits,” Weber said. “So if we have an action here, we want to get bonus points and make sure that we reap the benefits in other areas.”

The contractor also looked at the sustainability plans and reporting of other similar towns including Breckenridge; Eagle (county and town); Gunnison (county and town); Truckee, California; Jackson, Wyoming and Whitefish, Montana. 

Weber said that data was crucial since it showed what worked and what didn’t for other similar places.

The contractors told the council they are about one-third of the way through the project. Current next steps involve a community survey that will close April 19.

Council member Amy Manka questioned contractors about how detailed the survey is and if they would be able to capture the thoughts of the community.

Contactors responded and said this entails just six or seven questions that are multiple choice with a box where people can share their thoughts more in depth. 

Council member Erin Young wondered if there was going to be a survey just for businesses. Contractors said there is not, but businesses that can respond to the community survey. 

Contractors said there will be a public outreach meeting in May where people can share what they would like to see in the plan. 

Thinking about Breckenridge’s plastic bans and guidelines for take-out tupperware, council members wondered how well that initiative could fit in Silverthorne. 

“I think compostable food containers for restaurants are off the table,” Council member Tanecia Spagnolia said. 

Young added it would have to be off the table since Silverthorne doesn’t have a compost center.

Weber said there are certain parts of the process that could be considered “stretch goals” that the town could work toward but not put in the plan. 

Young said she would like to see some of the state’s sustainability goals and mandates outlined in the plan as well so the town can figure out how to best navigate those. 

Contractors said the March 13 presentation will be the first of four to council, and they will come back April 10, sometime in May and on July 10.

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