Fraser starts to eye economic development
Facing the loss of one of Fraser’s largest retailers and increasing pressure from neighboring Winter Park, the Fraser Board of Trustees mulled a number of economic development approaches at its Dec. 4 meeting.
Much of the conversation centered on increasing sales tax, which makes up about 75 percent of revenue for the town’s general fund, according to the town’s budget notes.
The impending loss of the Fraser Alco and the possibility of a new grocery store in Winter Park led to a drop of $55,000 in budgeted sales tax revenue from 2014 to 2015.
The town set aside $100,000 for economic development programs and $100,000 for local revitalization initiatives in its 2015 budget, which it adopted at the meeting.
Local developer Clark Lipscomb questioned what exactly the board had in mind for the funds.
“My hopes are to foster new development,” said Trustee Andy Miller. “We hear lots of talk from the Town of Winter Park about a large retail center, but we recognize that really the only town that has large retail center space is our town.”
Miller also pointed toward downtown revitalization as an appropriate use for the funds.
Trustee Jane Mather agreed with Miller’s ideas about improving the look of downtown, and added that the town was open to ideas from the community.
“I would like to see some big picture thinking,” said Mayor Peggy Smith.
Smith suggested working with developers, including Lipscomb, to attract businesses to Fraser.
The Grand Park development, which Lipscomb represents, includes retail space along U.S. Highway 40.
“I want and need for Fraser to flourish and do quite well, obviously, and not just on our property but throughout town,” Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb suggested holding workshops in the future to discuss possible economic development initiatives.
The town has not set a date for any possible workshops.
Compensation for planning commissioners
The board additionally approved compensation for members of the planning commission to the tune of $75 per meeting.
The new compensation won’t apply to current trustees who are also members of the planning commission.
Fraser resident and former trustee Vesta Shapiro expressed concern that the new policy created an ethical gray area for the planning commission, which handles land use issues in Fraser.
Supporters said commissioners deserve compensation for what can be an exacting position.
Trustee and commissioner Cody Taylor abstained from the vote while Trustee Eileen Waldow voted against it.
Cat grooming on Fraser River Trail
Fraser set aside $3,000 in its budget for trail grooming along the Fraser River Trail. This year, the 7 miles of trail from Winter Park Resort to Safeway will be groomed with a modified Snowcat.
Headwaters Trail Alliance will coordinate the grooming.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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