Remember the proposed name change for North Avenue?

We learned then that civic pride is alive and well in Grand Junction. People were mobilized to preserve something about their town that was important to them.

But it was a classic case of reacting. Imagine the same zeal applied proactively to a vision of Grand Junction 20 years into the future.

What might Grand Junction look like in 2040? The city is banking on residents delivering ideas, big and small, that will be workshopped into a long-term plan that will help guide growth.

It's worth noting that today's young people will be hitting middle age in two decades. It's a generation we don't really know that well yet. Their needs and values are likely to be much different than what exist now. They may be much more focused on sustainability (walking, small homes, electric vehicles), so the planning process must account for anticipated future trends.

Since April the city has been developing a project to create a 2020 Comprehensive Plan for the municipality — described by officials as a critical road map to guide decisions about the community's future and will address housing, recreation, tourism, open lands preservation, the economy, community sustainability, and transportation, among other topics. This forum asks the enduring question: What do we want to be when we grow up.

Do we want retail opportunities concentrated in shopping districts or sprinkled throughout the city? Do we need more parks and trails? We residents on the Western Slope like to contrast our lifestyle with that found on the Front Range. What can we learn from the Front Range experience to avoid duplicating their problems on our side of the Divide?

How do we encourage growth without committing to urban sprawl and clogged traffic arteries? Is the community center concept worth revisiting? For every idea, there's a demand on infrastructure that has to be factored in.

The next big step in the project involves community members. They can attend a Community Visioning Workshop at 6 p.m. July 16 at the Avalon, 645 Main St.

We also encourage residents to visit a website that has been created in conjunction with the comprehensive plan project — at grandjunction/ — where residents can provide input about the plan or learn information about the process.

The workshop is intended to develop a list of projects and improvements that the city and residents would like to see pursued in the future. But it should also conclude with some kind of general agreement or understanding "regarding the long-term role and character of Grand Junction."

This is a way to get involved in a positive setting. Instead of reacting to something you don't like, you get to put in your two cents about something you'd like to see — and maybe steer the city away from a future controversy in the process.

It's a rare opportunity that we hope city residents will embrace. See you at the Avalon on July 16.

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