Q How do you see the board of trustee’s role in managing growth in town?
A I see the first job of the board of trustees role to clarify – in specific and practical terms – the type of growth that our community wants to see.
Buena Vista’s growth is inevitable. By being proactive in how we guide our own future instead of reacting to it is incredibly important. Our codes and policies are the tools we will use to build a bright future, protecting the qualities we all love about BV without sacrificing opportunities that will bring value for all of our families.
I believe we need to look at our current policies, while studying the approaches of similar Colorado towns for their successes and failures on this front.
Let’s then take an informed approach to making sure we get it right, because the stakes are high and we really need to get it right.
Q What role should the town play in addressing our critical workforce housing shortage?
A Our town’s leadership has a critical role to play. To address the problem, we need more moderately priced rental and for-sale housing to keep up with the demand.
I believe the town staff should pro-actively help local landowners and local builders navigate the process to get these types of housing projects built.
This fits into the proactive approach to guiding our town’s future the right way, instead of allowing lack of supply to result in high-priced housing like so many other Colorado mountain communities.
We can clarify this vision for the town through adequate processes and public input and empower town staff to activate the projects that fit the vision. This will also help prevent the projects that don’t fit our community’s vision.
In my mind, large scale, cookie cutter projects like we see in the suburbs of Denver don’t fit in well here (or there) and we should all have the opportunity to voice our opposition to them. Large multi-family projects are a “use by right” in certain neighborhoods and I doubt people are aware of it.
Q How would you define BV’s recreation economy and its importance to town?
A In my mind, it is smart for a town to maximize the benefits of its natural resources. In some areas the natural resource may result in a fishing village, in others wheat fields. In BV, we have brilliant, vast public lands that can help create a year-round, sustainable economy.
These lands alone don’t create jobs, but with the addition of trails for many user groups, river waves for many water levels and great access to these natural resources, we can earn tourism revenue as well as grow locally owned businesses.
Towns with world-class outdoor recreation amenities also have the potential to attract great businesses. One option is to attract businesses directly connected to the outdoor industry such as Yeti, Black Diamond and Icelantic Skis. There is also the much less obvious business decision to move or start a company here by inspiring the CEO of a company for lifestyle reasons.
If she or he can envision the lifestyle of running a business in between bike rides at lunch or a surf session at the end of the day for themselves and their employees, they could become inspired to locate here.
Q What is the town’s biggest challenge to securing future water rights for residents?
A Securing an adequate water supply is a major challenge. If you add water storage to that conversation, the challenge only grows in urgency and scale. Most of the town’s water system is fed by water rights in Cottonwood Creek, which has a relatively small amount of storage and certainly not enough to sustain us in the long run. On the other hand, Arkansas River water and storage is pretty darn expensive and forces us to compete with Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. Those are some competitors with deep pockets.
Time is of the essence when it comes to long-term water planning because there are very limited options that actually have the potential to become an effective 100-year solution.
We do have control over how efficient our water usage is though. While we are exploring long-term solutions, we can do quite a bit in our homes and businesses to avoid waste and reduce our usage. Denver’s “Use What You Need” campaign had dramatic impacts on their usage and is something we could easily replicate here.
Q Please state how you would spur continued growth in business-generated sales tax to fund town services.
A I view businesses that want to open their doors here as our town’s customers. While our town has a lot of projects and a schedule of its own, when a customer walks in the door, helping them has to be our top priority.
I would love to help create an environment for businesses going through the process of opening their doors that is so efficient and values-driven that they are thrilled about how smoothly the process went. And how appreciated they felt for investing their time and money here to create jobs and sales tax. Unfortunately, this is not a common story today.
I want to see local wages rise and for local businesses to be able to operate year-round instead of the seasonal cycle we currently have. I also would like to dive into what it would take to support additional amenities in town such as a movie theater, larger grocery store and/or a bowling alley.
One of my favorite quotes is “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Proverbs 29:18
I think people that want to invest in a place, whether in the form of building housing or starting a company, need to know our vision for our place. “We don’t want to be Vail” is not a vision.
I believe it is time for us all to put words to what we do want to be and get everyone in town on board.
I believe the vision lies somewhere in a combination for honoring our roots as a historic Colorado mining and ranching town with a well informed and planned out eye for the future.
Once the vision is clear, I believe there will be a sense of relief for everyone. A shared vision for the future will bring people together.