City participating in ranking program to grade Steamboat on sustainability efforts | SteamboatToday.com

City participating in ranking program to grade Steamboat on sustainability efforts

Teresa Ristow

City of Steamboat Springs intern Liz Ross

— The city of Steamboat Springs is nearing completion of a community survey that will be used to generate a report that ranks Steamboat on its health, inclusiveness and prosperity.

A city intern has spent the summer collecting data on the local economy, education, arts, health, environment and other factors as part of the Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities, or STAR Communities program.

The data will be sent to STAR Communities, who will evaluate and confirm the information before ranking Steamboat compared to other communities and offering suggestions for goal-setting to improve Steamboat's community sustainability.

"It's a rigorous benchmarking framework and a very thorough and comprehensive view of community sustainability," said Winnie Delliquadri, assistant to the city manager, in a news release about the project.

Steamboat is one of eight communities participating in the program in 2015. Others include Boise, Idaho, and San Antonio, Texas. More than 100 communities have participated since the STAR program was created.

Intern Liz Ross completed most of the surveying for the report, interviewing community leaders to gather information to answer more than 500 questions asked as part of the program.

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As an example, Ross interviewed organization leaders and city and county staff to determine whether Steamboat had specific plans in place for green infrastructure, integrated pest management or a plan to enhance art and cultural resources.

"They asked a good bit about our open spaces, our parks and our trails, which we know are very important to people in Steamboat." Ross said. "Among many things, we had to demonstrate that 90 percent of households are located within three miles of an off-road trail."

The results of the report, once completed, can be used by local leaders as a baseline audit to move forward on areas in the community needing improvement in sustainability.

The work of Ross and another part-time intern, who worked earlier in the summer, was funded through a matching grant with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.

More information about the STAR program is available at http://www.starcommunities.org.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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