March 23, 2016
Healthy future of the Fraser Valley
A recent Denver Post article outlined facts obvious to any person who depends on the healthy future of the Fraser Valley; we are the closest major resort area to Denver, Colorado's population continues to boom, and our valley remains relatively undeveloped. We have watched major development waves begin, and then disappear before engulfing our community. This time I both fear, and view optimistically, the oncoming wave.
If we ride this crest instead of being engulfed by it, we can manage growth and build a valley which serves locals and visitors in a creative fashion instead of seeing the development of yet another cookie-cutter strip of national chains. Having just returned from a 6,000 mile US road trip across the southern tier of states, I can attest to the ongoing homogenization of our Ronald McDonald landscape. I did find a few small towns which stopped this vanilla wave.
The upcoming Mayoral race in Fraser offers voters a clear choice for the town's direction as we deal with community changes. Candidate Philip Vandernail, in his newspaper interview, calls for collaboration to deal with community questions – but he fails to name the two largest players in our neighborhood. He calls for less collaboration with the town of Winter Park and does not call for discussions with the Winter Park Ski Area.
I love the history, and difference of our home town of Fraser. But I also recognize our town gains over half of its income from a single source, namely Safeway. It is no secret the town of Winter Park is working toward putting a grocery outlet within its boundaries. It is unlikely a tourist, likely 2/3 of Safeway's business, will drive past one grocery store to get to the Fraser Safeway. Vandernail cites potential financial impacts to Fraser from cooperation between the two communities – impacts which are incorrect. The potential nose-dive in Safeway tax revenues are not mentioned by the candidate.
Mayor Peggy Smith has worked closely with ski area and Winter Park town leaders, discussions designed to protect Fraser Town taxpayers. She commits to 20 hours or more a week to further town interests at both the local and state level – a realistic schedule for a person who is semi-retired. One wonders if a younger man committed to his business and family can do the same at the present Mayoral pay of about $300 per month.
I will continue to work as a Fraser Trustee to meet development challenges to both protect Fraser taxpayers and to craft a creative community meeting the needs of residents and visitors. I believe Mayor Smith will best meet these needs over the next four years.
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