Avon Town Council candidates talk local issues ahead of the election | VailDaily.com

Avon Town Council candidates talk local issues ahead of the election

Six people vying for three seats in Avon

Avon Town Council veteran Amy Phillips on Monday was joined by a group of five people hoping to become first-time councilmembers in Avon for a live forum on channel 5.

Three seats are available in the Nov. 3 election. The forum gave the candidates — Phillips, Lindsay Hardy, Martin Golembiewski, Kevin Hyatt, Missy Erickson and Russell Andrade — a chance to tell the community about themselves and what they would want to work on as councilmembers. The candidates were also asked about some of the bigger issues facing the town.

Several of the projects Phillips took on over her last four years on council became the subject of discussion, with candidates praising the town’s deed-restriction purchase program and real estate transfer tax exemption increase.

Indeed, the most criticism on the latter came from Phillips herself, who said raising the exemption from $160,000 to $240,000 was “paltry,” and the exemption needed to go higher to better approach the purchase price of an average two-bedroom townhome in Avon.

In working on that issue, the time spent by the council was inversely proportional to the public participation on the matter, so much so that the absence of attendance at meetings on the issue became a topic of discussion in itself at those meetings.

However, during Tuesday’s forum, the town’s real estate transfer tax came up early and often. Candidate Lindsay Hardy cited an examination of the transfer tax first in a list of three issues she would like to address as a councilmember.

“Obviously, everyone is concerned with RETT,” Hardy said.

Hardy also said walkability in town, proper parking on West Beaver Creek Boulevard, and looking at the budget would be her top issues.

“I would love to assess what we could do with that,” Hardy said of the budget.

Candidate Martin Golembiewski also said real estate transfer tax needs to be examined, but not before saying that more homeownership programs and more winter events in Avon would be the top issues he would like to take on as a councilmember.

“If you have a lot of events, that will bring a lot into town, which will be, I think, really beneficiary,” Golembiewski said.

Candidate Kevin Hyatt said making the stage at Nottingham Park into a cash cow, looking at the real estate transfer tax and building more apartments in Avon, as opposed to more homes, would be his top priorities.

“Not everyone is looking for a house yet, but let’s make a town that they want to stay in, and then they can look for housing permanently,” Hyatt said.

Asked about her top-three priorities as councilmember, candidate Missy Erickson also said the real estate transfer tax would be at the top of her list, saying she was in favor of the $160,000 exemption that was already in place before the council spent months crafting and passing the effort to increase it to $240,000.

“Gallagher amendment and seeing how it might be antiquated in today’s time in 2020; workforce housing is a big one for me; I absolutely support preserving our natural resources, wildlife and open spaces; I also support the acknowledgment of neighborhood protective covenants; and the protocol to place workforce housing near commerce, schools, stores, restaurants, transit. So those are my three big ones,” Erickson said.

Aside from Phillips, candidate Russell Andrade was the only person who didn’t cite an examination of the real estate transfer tax among their top priorities. Andrade said enhancement of homebuyer assistance programs like Avon’s new deed restriction purchase program would be his top priority, and in the near-term, working alongside businesses to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic would also be a priority to him if elected. Andrade also said the town can’t let its guard down when it comes to the protection of trails on town open space.

“Road 779, if we don’t maintain that road, there’s a chance the Forest Service will close that down, which I would be against,” Andrade said.

Phillips also said further enhancements to the town’s new deed restriction purchase program would be among her priorities. She also wants to finish what was started in Nottingham Park.

“Everyone talks about getting more events,” Phillips said. “There’s quite a few capital projects that need to be put into place, including real restrooms, and real restrooms to support the beach, as well as the parking adjacent to the beach, and lastly, making it safer to walk from Nottingham Road to town.”

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