Brower: Tom Hale and Granby’s growth
Grand Enterprise Initiative
Former Granby Town Manager Tom Hale died three weeks ago after suffering through the effects of a brain tumor. I was sorry to hear the news. Tom was a friend of mine.
It may not be evident to many but Tom played a critical role in the growth and development of Granby, helping to clear the way for what is likely to be the continued economic expansion of this unique town under the guidance of current Town Manager Aaron Blair and Mayor Paul Chavoustie.
And yet it was Tom’s quiet guidance and, yes, leadership, more than 10 years ago that made Granby more than two times larger than it had been when he took Granby Town Manager job. More than two times larger and many times more likely to succeed. How, you may ask, did he do this?
First, he was smart enough to see great opportunity for Granby when Granby Ranch came to the town and wanted to annex. That one annexation alone doubled the size of the town and created a blueprint for the eastern and southern expansion of the town. Hale helped to craft an annexation and development plan for Granby Ranch that allowed the town to bring in added property tax and sales tax revenue while giving Granby Ranch the opportunity to develop its relatively large land holdings in a way that made sense for that project.
It was a win-win situation and Hale was smart enough to guide the town in a way that made it good for all. He also included in that development plan, through annexation agreements and the like, a “slush fund,” if you will, that steered money from that development to downtown Granby. What that means is Hale and the town saw that outlying development could pose a competitive threat to existing downtown businesses and landowners and funds were set aside to help them in the face of that threat.
He also presided over the extensive development and annexation of properties at what is now Grand Elk, which included work on the City Market inclusion in the town of Granby. Those critical moves and smart negotiations helped assure that Granby had a great grocery amenity in the town while also assuring that those sales tax dollars came to our town coffers.
Not only that, he worked with the then developers of what was known as the Orvis Shorefox property, getting that land annexed into town with development and subdivision agreements that continued to protect “old town” Granby from getting over-committed to costly new development. Yes, Orvis Shorefox ultimately failed, but the agreements and the annexation assured that whatever might happen in the future would happen in the town of Granby, assuring that the town of Granby would play a critical part of that property’s future.
And now we have the opportunity, with the wise purchase of the land there by the town, to bring in a major RV park developer and perhaps some good affordable housing for workers in our county. That’s not to mention the recreational amenities there that are benefiting all the people of Granby.
Tom was also the manager when Marv Heemeyer rampaged through the town, destroying or severely damaging 13 buildings and causing $10 million in damage. One of those buildings was the old Granby Town Hall where the Granby Library was also located. Hale was at the helm when the process started to plan the replacement of the Town Hall. (He always jokingly worried that there were to be some empty offices in that new structure, knowing the propensity of government to try and fill those offices with perhaps superfluous staff.)
In the end, Hale was rewarded for his good work with an unceremonious and undeserved firing by Granby Mayor Ted Wang, which took place in the throes of Tom’s effort to negotiate a higher salary.
In the end, Granby got more than its money’s worth with Tom Hale, who laid the groundwork for the town’s current and future economic expansion.
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at email@example.com.
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