AVON, Colorado - At some point, the Avon Town Council's time won't be dominated by discussions with Village at Avon developers. What follows that process is the subject of this week's question to the five people running for three council seats in the Nov. 6 election:
Assuming that the current Avon Town Council gets through the settlement process with the Village at Avon developers before election day, what do you see as the top issue facing the council?
The top issue facing the council is making Avon's town core a more viable, competitive, and attractive place for everyone.
Avon's "downtown" needs an increased level of viability in order for our existing small business owners to survive and compete with their counterparts located in Vail, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, and further down valley. The town's core area is sorely in need of infill development on the remaining vacant parcels situated in high profile locations; and a gradual redevelopment of outdated, underutilized properties located throughout the core is long overdue.
Avon's downtown can become more physically attractive to our visitors and more financially enticing to developers and new businesses alike, if we return to the basic principles already established and adopted in the East and West Town Center planning documents.
The town of Avon has invested a huge amount of capital to create these urban renewal plans and did so with the buy-in of the stakeholders located along "Main Street." These partnerships remain as the keys to turning our grand vision into a reality and we must honor our commitments by following through with our plans. A crucial piece of the puzzle and an integral component of Avon's core, too big to ignore, is the Village at Avon. Our future is their future, and vice versa.
Before looking past any Traer Creek settlement, I want to say: this matter will not simply "go away!" Even with progress on the settlement agreement, the Village at Avon will be back before the Avon Planning and Zoning Commission (where I now serve) and the Town Council many times before necessary details can be hammered out.
That said, the next big priority facing the Town Council is Avon's budget, where I will focus on:
• Revenue sources: We must help revenue sources and jobs to grow. Slowly increasing real estate values and business revenues (that generate property and sales taxes) should be encouraged. Economic development, including special events (especially in cooperation with Beaver Creek), can and will stimulate Avon's economy, year 'round.
• Operating expenditures. Our town has a great history of living within its means, which I will support. We must keep our infrastructure and amenities in good shape, and invest in our town employees and equipment.
Budget choices are the key to Avon's success. My BA in economics from Harvard and MBA in finance from Stanford led me to a career with AutoZone. There, I worked with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars (the size of Avon's current budgets) and larger budgets (the size of some recent developments in Avon). I'll bring that experience to Town Council.
If money were no object I would see the development of Main Street and an update to the town's comprehensive plan as top priorities. As money is an issue I see attracting new business as a top priority. Increasing tax revenues for the town is important for its fiscal health. In addition, developing Swift Gulch with the grant money issued for the project is on the list, as is continuing the relationship with ECO Transit toward a stronger valley-wide transportation partnership.
The future development of the town of Avon. We need a clear vision of what we want to be as a community. It would be wonderful if our town could have a Main Street area with a pedestrian mall. This would give us a place to meet up with our neighbors and would help Avon to be a destination and not just the gateway to Beaver Creek.
Balancing our budget! We need to try to spend town revenues on an as-needed basis until we recover from the economic downturn.
With that said, it is my priority to see the town of Avon employees go back to work without furlough days and to bring their pay scales back to previous standards.