Morgan Mahala

Morgan Mahala

Q: How do you see the board of trustee’s role in managing growth in town?

A: It will be important for the new BOT to continue collaborating with various groups like Envision Chaffee County and Chaffee Housing Trust in conjunction with Planning and Zoning and the Public Works Department. Collectively, informed and focused plans can be made, and referenced for decisions, while setting and achieving goals related to infrastructure, housing, economy, agriculture and outdoor recreational use.

BV is in a position to learn from other communities who have faced similar challenges and any relevant information gathered should be given serious consideration.

Finding unique ways to incorporate helpful solutions could, in turn, help another community as they grow.

I also believe that it is the responsibility of the BOT’s to consider the diversity and uniqueness of the community and do as much as reasonably possible to help maintain the history and character of BV in the face of inevitable development and change.

Q: What role should the town play in addressing our critical workforce housing shortage?

A: Town should play a leadership role with a willingness to keep an open mind and and allow for creativity.

Once again, if you look at communities that are similar to ours, measures such as vacation rental restrictions and taxes, tiered and lottery based systems for placement of applicants, changes in city codes to promote lower-cost housing, deed-restrictions and incentives have been implemented successfully and maybe at times unsuccessfully.

We are already in the initial phases of addressing this issue with projects like Collegiate Commons and it is crucial to continue the momentum while providing room for informed, careful planning.

Not having the proximity to a major ski resort or the I-70 corridor has allowed for a slower growth rate than those communities and in essence gives us slightly more room to plan, which needs to continue to be taken advantage of.

Q: How would you define BV’s recreation economy and its importance to town?

A: At this point in time, our recreational economy is a crucial part of our community.

The growth of outdoor recreation has exploded and Colorado is consistently rated as one of the healthiest states in the country. With unbelievable accessibility to world-class hiking, biking, climbing and whitewater, BV is on the map.

The uniqueness of this accessibility paired with the range of beginner to intermediate options makes our area one that is suitable for most visitors.

Although there are national economic fluctuations that occasionally affect tourism, these components draw consistent, if not growing, seasonal business and also introduces folks committed to the outdoor lifestyle to the community who often decide to stay.

I believe that this group, along with growing interest among longtime residents, will continue to push our recreational economy from one that is mostly tourist based to one that is measurably locally sustained out into the shoulder and slower seasons, joining the Climax Mine, correctional facility, schools and hospitals as a reliable source of means. 

Q: What is the town’s biggest challenge to securing future water rights for residents?

A: When it comes to our town and the concern for water, the challenge faced lies more in the realm of financing the storage, development and maintenance of infrastructure than the actual procuring of water rights.

In the the 2014 Water Resources Master Plan, it was found that we had enough water rights to last us for quite some time including accounting for a percentage of growth in the community.

Four years later this is still the case. Currently the majority of our funding is awarded through grants and tap fees. Clearly we should continue to work with the Public Works department, the water advisory board and town administrative officials in pursuing such grants while working closely with planning and zoning and new developments to ensure that such funds are being maximized.

In addition, careful consideration should be given to accessory dwelling units that are sometimes used as rentals to ensure that the appropriate amount of tap fees are collected in congruence with intended use of the space.

Q: Please state how you would spur continued growth in business-generated sales tax to fund town services?

A: It is a source of much contention; however, one option would be to seriously reconsider the recreational legalization of marijuana in Buena Vista.

It has been brought to my attention that many people are more inclined to do their shopping and run other errands in Salida (spend money)

when they use those recreational stores. 

Though it is medical, we already have one shop established in the community and they have been an excellent source of education and example of a responsible, informed establishment. 

It would make sense to take the next step and capitalize on the tax revenue from recreational sales, not just as an encouragement to visitors to stop and stay longer (spend money), but as an encouragement to locals to keep more than just the recreational marijuana money here, especially as we are faced with paying for new school facilities. 

Another option could be to work with our economic vitality centered groups to centralize a location of small business resources and information. 

There are a number of wonderful and informative organizations in the valley including our local chambers of commerce, Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation, The Watershed and citizen task forces like Envision Chaffee County whose commitment is to helping our businesses succeed. 

Unfortunately, I believe many small business owners become so inundated with other details and concerns of their investments, they might overlook these valuable sources of support or not even realize they exist. 

Efforts to make these resources more visible to our community would be impactful.

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