Amy Ito: Frisco has grown up
FRISCO – Not only has Frisco grown in the past decade, it also has matured, according to its now departed community development director.
Amy Ito came to the mountains in 1992 to work for Frisco’s planning department. She recently resigned from her position as community development director to accept a position with Jefferson County.
In the 11 years Ito has worked with the town, she has been intimate with its growth and the issues surrounding its development.
When Ito first began working for Frisco, the town had neither open space nor a committee for it – perhaps because, as a small town surrounded by National Forest, town officials didn’t see the need for preserving undeveloped land within its boundaries, Ito surmises.
By the end of the decade, however, Frisco officials had purchased the town’s first open-space parcel. The town added a second parcel to its open space inventory last year and expanded its open space committee to include parks, recreation and trails.
“In some ways, I think our perception of ourself as far as a community 10-plus years ago was just not quite as urban,” Ito said. “Now we’re dealing with more urban issues – not because we’re urban, but because they’re more advanced issues.”
Some issues, such as open space, town officials initiated. Others were thrust upon them.
It took a proposed topless bar for Frisco officials to create a regulation regarding sexually oriented businesses – defining where and how such a business could operate, should it land in Frisco. And when homes were built without regard to the town’s character, officials began looking into architectural guidelines for developers.
“That’s when we started to realize we do need to regulate, we do need to define ourselves a bit,” Ito said.
“I think it just made us realize that we’re growing up.”
Working as a town planner isn’t always easy, she said.
Planners try to solicit input from the town’s citizens to create goals and action items for the town – a vision officials then use to guide them as they review development applications. But they also have to enforce those regulations.
“Having to tell people “no’ is never easy under any capacity, and we do that a lot,” Ito said. “If someone isn’t meeting regulations, that’s our job to enforce.”
Sometimes, planners can meet with applicants to help them come up with creative designs that will work with the town’s regulations.
That’s when the job is rewarding, she said.
Looking back at her 11 years, Ito isn’t sure if there’s one project that’s been more fulfilling than the others.
Probably the best part of the job, she said, has been working with the community.
The other day, Ito went for a walk on the bike path between the Frisco Marina and the Lakepoint Towers. As she walked, Ito remembered every step of the process in making the now-popular path a reality.
“All told, it was a six- to eight-year process,” she said. “To be here long enough to see it to fruition was incredibly rewarding.”
Friday was Ito’s last day. Former senior planner Mark Gage will take over as Frisco’s community development director.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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