Fraser selects Fisher to fill board vacancy
A vacancy on the Fraser town board garnered a large public response hoping to bring in a former mayor.
The Fraser Board of Trustees were not swayed, and instead appointed business owner Kaydee Fisher to fill the vacancy left by Ryan Barwick’s resignation. Fisher will hold the position through April 2022, when the seat will be up for election.
On April 21, the board had a choice between Fisher, former mayor Peggy Smith and Brian Roman after conducting interviews with the three earlier this month.
The board allowed for a half hour of public comments before making a decision. Many trustees had also received a number of emails and texts about the candidates. The public comments were overwhelmingly in support of Smith, citing her prior experience on the board.
Smith has served both as a Fraser trustee and mayor, losing re-election in 2016 by one vote to Mayor Philip Vandernail. Vandernail was up for re-election last year and won again when no other candidates came forward to run for mayor.
In the last year, Smith has been a vocal critic of actions taken by the town and local developer Clark Lipscomb. An easement signed by the mayor in March 2020 stated that Grand Park had satisfied development requirements — but that was voided in the fall when Smith and others raised questions about previous agreements, which the developer has maintained were satisfied.
Lipscomb went on to close public access to his private land in Elk Creek and Cozens Meadows, which had been open to public use, specifically citing Smith as the main reason for closing the meadows.
While many members of the public felt that Smith’s experience and knowledge of development would be a benefit to the town, some board members wondered if Smith would be too biased to approach these topics objectively.
After the group spoke in favor of Smith, Fisher approached the stand to make her own comment. While Fisher has not served on the town board before, as co-owner of Fisher’s Bar and Sharky’s Eatery, she comes with deep community ties.
“We could chalk it all up to my inexperience, but I didn’t really know it was a thing to have all your friends get on and support you,” Fisher said.
Lipscomb also made a comment on the selection, stating that he believes Fraser needed a fresh perspective and said that Smith’s actions over the last year have been detrimental to the town.
“I think a lot of the divisiveness that has happened in the past year is a direct result of Peggy, and I think Peggy knows better,” Lipscomb said. “… I think the town needs to be run in a more businesslike fashion.”
Smith responded by saying that she is not a “Clark-hater,” even if the two have had their differences.
“I try not to be divisive, but I did call out a major issue that I felt Clark was responsible for and brought it to the board’s attention,” Smith said.
The town board then discussed their takes on the issue. Trustees Andy Miller and Katie Soles spoke in favor of Smith and her experience. Trustees Parnell Quinn and Brian Cerkvenik expressed their worries that Smith would be too biased to serve the board effectively. They both preferred Fisher.
Mayor Pro-Tem Eileen Waldow said all the candidates were well qualified, but Waldow preferred Fisher based on the fact that Fraser is listed as Fisher’s hometown on Facebook.
As of Friday, Smith’s Facebook said she lived in Winter Park while Roman’s listed Fraser. While some trustees spoke positively of Roman, the discussions focused primarily on Smith and Fisher.
Vandernail encouraged all applicants to run in the upcoming election, before voting in favor of Fisher to fill the roll. With trustees split 4-2 favoring Fisher over Smith, Fisher was immediately sworn in.
In other business:
• Following an hourlong executive session, the town board approved a revised agreement for the completion of the Market Street buildings in the Grand Park Development at 78 Market St. N. and 118 Market St. S. The developer had asked that the completion date be extended to June 30, 2022.
The trustees said that a number of conditions must be met to approve the extension, including an updating of terms and a construction guarantee agreement for improvements with a surety of at least $97,000. If these terms are not satisfied in 30 days, the developer will not receive the extension of the incentive agreement, and the town will be able to recover fees that have been waived per that agreement.
• Fraser revised its memorandum of understanding with Headwaters Trails Alliance to update their contributions for trail work this year. The town agreed to contribute $5,000 dollars to HTA’s new stewardship program, becoming the first group to fiscally commit to the project.
• The town extended, for the third time, a business relief resolution related to COVID-19. This extension goes through Sept. 30.
• Fraser said it was open to the transit advisory committee exploring an extension on the seasonal Red Line route that would add four stops in Rendezvous. The ultimate decision on that extension lies with Winter Park’s town board.
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