Lost in the 50s
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer Outback Boal
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
News from the desk of the Mayor:
Lunch With The Mayor: Improve the Local Economy
This article is the second installment of a four-part series through October describing my goals and priorities as mayor of Sandpoint. Those are: 1) Engage the public to address community concerns 2) Improve the local economy. 3) Sustain quality of life for Sandpoint residents 4) Keep Sandpoint affordable.
Priority #2: Improve the Local Economy
This week I will report on projects I’m involved with to spur economic vitality in our community. There is good news to report as commercial building vacancy rates have decreased significantly since the 2008 recession. Also, 2016 was nearly a record year in building permits issued. The unemployment rate for Bonner County is at 3.6%, which is the lowest rate since prior the recession. These indicators point to a strengthening economy.
Not surprisingly, much of this growth is driven by tourism. The City’s continued investments in parks and quality of life amenities fuel this growth. The new Watershed Crest Trail and Memorial Field are great examples of this. Conservation of recreational elements and natural space at the University of Idaho Boyer property are important components to be preserved in future development efforts.
What makes Sandpoint truly resilient, however, is that we have a broadly diversified economy. Manufacturing, aerospace and biomedical are growing sectors of the regional technology economy. To sustain this growth, we have to support adequate housing, workforce development and infrastructure.
There are several strategies we have already initiated to support our current economic growth. In 2012 Sandpoint completed city-wide zoning amendments which allow for greater density, greater housing options and greater affordability. The City cut its water and sewer hook-up fees by half to stimulate development and reduce new home cost. Currently we are facilitating a public engagement effort for the Comprehensive Plan Review. Our effort is to get you, our citizens, to consider a development proposal that could bring additional, higher density housing to undeveloped areas along Boyer Avenue. Collectively, these actions will accommodate a larger workforce and provide the housing it needs at an affordable cost. I encourage all who are interested to participate in the next workshop on October 17th.
High speed internet may be the most significant investment the City is making to stimulate the economy. Over the last two years the City has developed a fiber backbone to facilitate expedited, high speed internet service throughout the City and the region. The City, School District, County and other large firms are experiencing the benefits of this network today. Over the next couple years this network will be built out to homes and small businesses in Sandpoint and beyond so everyone can enjoy high speed connectivity.
Infrastructure also includes transportation, utilities and city facilities. Implementation of the 2012 Downtown Streets Plan has begun with traditional two-way traffic throughout the downtown core, calming traffic, improving access and increasing parking options. The sewer replacement work that is underway on 1st Avenue today replaces a failing sewer main and laterals within the right of way. The capstone on the downtown streets project is the Farmin’s Landing property between Bridge St. and the Panida. The goal with this project is to create a safe multi-modal connection between the pedestrian bridge and the bike Path on Main St. while capturing and filtering storm water to prevent pollution in our lake. There will also be great opportunities to improve public accessibility to our waterfront and create a unique community gathering place which connects downtown to Sand Creek. These changes to the downtown core will dramatically improve its look, feel and function making it an even more attractive place to visit and do business.
I am motivated to continue promoting the interests of business in Sandpoint by investing in parks, quality of life and infrastructure as a proactive way to spur economic health and vitality. My City Staff and I will continue to encourage public engagement in planning, strategizing and prioritizing our communities needs to ensure appropriate economic growth for everyone.
This series is in preparation for a new “Lunch With The Mayor” informal meeting to be held on the last Thursday of the month beginning October 26th, from 12-1pm at the Cedar Street Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge.
Shelby RognstadSandpoint Mayor
Shelby Rognstad was born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho. A fourth generation Idahoan, Shelby moved to Sandpoint in 1999. Shelby first came here to practice permaculture after graduating with a liberal arts degree from the University of Idaho in 1998. In 2006, he opened Common Knowledge Bookstore and Café. In addition to selling new and used books, it served breakfast and lunch using locally sourced and organic foods. In 2013, Shelby co-founded The Hive, an entertainment venue in downtown Sandpoint. Since 2012, Shelby has worked in real estate holding and private lending in North Idaho and Eastern Washington.
Shelby served on the steering committee and Board of Directors for Sandpoint Transition Initiative (2007-2008) and has supported other local nonprofits, including Sandpoint Community Radio, the Public Forum on Sustainability, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper and the Eureka Institute. He practices yoga and Vipassanā Meditation and has volunteered at Vipassanā Meditation Centers in Washington, British Columbia and Puerto Rico. He is active year round in sports and outdoor activities.
Shelby’s public service began in 2007 when he was appointed to the Sandpoint Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. In 2009, he was appointed to the Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission. He served as Vice Chair until he was appointed to the City Council by Mayor Ogilvie on January 18, 2012. Shelby was elected City Council President in February of 2014. In November of 2015, he was elected Mayor and was sworn in on January 6, 2016.
Education and Workforce Training:
While in office, Mayor Rognstad intends to work with employers, educators and community leaders to develop workforce training and higher education opportunities in Sandpoint. The Mayor recognizes the importance and value of North Idaho College and the PTECH (Pathways to Technology in Early College High School) program in Sandpoint. Sandpoint is fortunate to have excellent options in K-12 education. However, more needs to be done to foster greater opportunities for youth and to develop an educated, skilled workforce in Sandpoint’s growing technology and health care industries. For these reasons, supporting PTECH and the growth of NIC locally are high priorities.
In recent years, Sandpoint has seen significant growth in technology related industries. Aerospace, biomedical and information technology, in particular, have taken a foothold. High tech employers provide high paying jobs that serve a global market. The result is an increasingly diversified economy that ensures economic stability. The Mayor intends to continue to support these growing industries and attract new employers to Sandpoint. By serving the needs of existing companies and leveraging assets, the City will retain quality employers and attract the right kind of growth and development in the future.
Mayor Rognstad is committed to improving the quality of life in Sandpoint. This requires a commitment to sustaining environmental health for which Sandpoint has taken many steps in recent years. We’ve partnered with Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper to develop an herbicide-free weed management program for the lake. We’ve created a city-wide zoning code which encourages multimodal connectivity, energy efficiency, community oriented design and reduces our carbon footprint. Looking forward, the Mayor intends to reduce herbicide use in city parks, complete the implementation of the City’s storm water management plan and ensure long term protection of the City’s watershed.
From the mountain to the lake, Sandpoint boasts many recreational opportunities. Residents and visitors alike have long enjoyed the benefits of our signature assets: Lake Pend Oreille and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. However, recent additions like the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, the Sand Creek Trail and the Watershed Crest Trail have been welcomed additions to our world class park system. Mayor Rognstad will continue to develop opportunities like these in the future.