Avon’s town manager resigns
Efting, 49, resigned Wednesday after running Avon for nearly six years. In that time the roundabouts were built, the economy soared and slumped, and a deal was made with the Village at Avon, the large shopping and residential complex now under construction that will double the size of the town.
“I think he’s leaving the place in better shape than he found it,” says Vail Town Manager Bob McLaurin, one of Efting’s close friends. “He’s done a lot for the community and the whole valley. I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Efting, an avid golfer, has been hired as the city manager in South Padre Island, Texas, a popular spring break spot near the Mexican boarder. Efting gave his 30-day resignation notice Wednesday to Mayor Pro Tem Buz Reynolds.
“I’d rather golf than ski,” Efting says. “I’m trading in my skis for a Speedo. Isn’t that an ugly sight? I won’t even know if I have it on.”
Efting, a native of South Dakota and a former naval officer, came to Avon in 1997 after working for 11 years as the assistant town manger in Aspen.
“I do believe in leaving while they miss you. In my profession, you can stay too long,” Efting says. “I think we’ve done a lot of good things between the roundabouts, new parks up in Wildridge, new maintenance facility and the community picnics, which are something that people look forward to.
“I’ve never seen a town change its looks so much,” he adds, “and I think it’s been a great evolution.”
Busy and bustling
The Town Council has just balanced the 2003 budget. The somewhat controversial, trimmed-down spending package contains a salary freeze for town employees and an increase in membership costs for Avon’s recreation center.
On the east side of town, workers continue building the first phase of the Village at Avon, where a new Interstate 70 interchange, The Home Depot and Wal-Mart Supercenter are scheduled to be open by next summer.
And Tuesday, four seats on the Town Council are up for grabs.
“I think change is good for towns. I have my strengths, but I’ve got my weaknesses,” Efting says. “It’s the best job I ever had, but I’m ready for something new. I’m ready for no winter.
“Plus,” he added, “Garth Brooks played there last year on the beach.”
Efting also may be trading blizzards for hurricanes.
“In the Navy I was in big storms,” he says. “I know what that type stuff is like.”
When a hurricane approaches, for example, residents are told to stock up on a week’s worth of bottled water and canned food, like soup and Chef Boy-ar-dee products.
“That’s my regular diet,” Efting says.
Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi, who has lived in Avon since 1991, says Avon changed drastically while Efting was at the helm.
“I think he’s done a tremendous job during a time of rapid growth where he had to manage a lot of different things,” Menconi says. “I wish him well and I hope he breaks 80 on the links on a regular basis.”
Slices and shanks
But those who have worked and played with Efting compliment him more on his administrative savvy than his golf or tennis swing.
“The reason we could play golf is we were equally bad,” says golfing buddy Jimmy Mandel, who heads Vail Resorts Development Company. “The good news is his town manager skills are a lot better than his golfing skills.”
“I beat him like a drum in tennis,” McLaurin says, “So he quit calling me to play tennis.”
The town and Vail Resorts have been working on a design for a small village the ski company wants to build on a patch of land called “the confluence,” between the Eagle River and the Seasons building.
The site also is where Vail Resorts would like to launch a gondola to carry skiers from Avon up to Beaver Creek Mountain.
“I’ve become a big fan of Bill over the recent years,” Mandel says. “He’s been terrific to deal with. I think it’s a great loss for Avon.”
As town manager, Efting ran the day-to-day operations of the municipal government. He worked directly for the Town Council, whose plans and projects he was responsible for executing.
“He handled the council quite well considering the personalities he had to deal with,” Mayor Pro Tem Buz Reynolds Jr. says. “I believe some of the personalities are a little stronger than he wanted to keep dealing with.”
The town has been hit hard by the country’s economic quagmire and some businesses in Avon are struggling. Reynolds says Efting has made the recession less painful for the town.
“I don’t think the town’s in worse shape due to his action. It’s in worse shape because of the economy and we’ve weathered it well, considering,” Reynolds says. “The town would be in a lot worse shape if Bill hadn’t stepped up to the plate and helped with the budget and the other problems we’re going through.”
Efting also did a great job when new developments and building projects upset neighbors – such as when residents of Eaglebend Drive wanted a cul-de-sac to block traffic from the Village at Avon, Reynolds says.
“He would try to balance between the incoming developer and the existing property owners with as much grace as he possibly could muster,” Reynolds says.
Former Avon Town Councilman Rick Cuny, who resigned in June, says Efting is his all-time favorite town manager.
“I am both sad and happy about Bill Efting’s resignation,” Cuny says. “I’m happy for him because I know he’s been looking to make a change and he got a wonderful opportunity and a fun place to move to out of the deal.
“But I’m sad,” Cuny added, “because I won’t have a good friend closer by –I’ll have to travel to Texas to see him, which is not the best.”
South Padre Island is one of country’s hot spots for spring breakers.
“Well,” Cuny says, “Bill’s a party kind of guy.”
Efting says he can handle spring break.
“It sounds like it’s 10 days of mass chaos,” he says.
The second-in-command in Avon is Assistant Town Manager Larry Brooks, who says Efting ran an open government.
“I don’t think he ever passed up an opportunity to talk with somebody or share information with people,” Efting says. “He always saw around the bend, seeing people who might be interested in knowing what he knew.”
Efting also ran the town with a great sense of humor, Brooks says.
“He had the ability to laugh at himself and he would laugh at a group of us employees, but we never felt insulted,” Brooks says.
Efting apparently left his penchant for pranks behind him in Aspen, Brooks says.
“He was always telling these “Aspen stories,’ but I never saw him do anything bizarre here,” Brooks says. “But we should probably pay attention for the next 30 days. Now that we know he’s leaving, it might not be as safe.”
More importantly, Efting’s departure may leave Vail’s town manager as the shortest administrator in the county, McLaurin jokes.
“Efting’s shorter than I am. He is the shortest city manager on the Vail Valley, maybe on the Western Slope,” McLaurin says.
The two men also kept up the mostly friendly rivalry between Vail and Avon, McLaurin says.
“It’s always a little competitive,” McLaurin says. “He always says Avon is the “heart of the valley.’ I let him go at that.”
Of the height dispute, Efting doesn’t agree McLaurin is taller.
“I’ve always thought he was a dwarf, but he can keep telling himself he’s taller,” Efting says.
New council will pick Efting’s replacement
Four open seats on the Avon Town Council will be filled Tuesday, and it will be up to the new panel to pick a replacement for Efting.
Mayor Pro Tem Buz Reynolds says the council has neither discusses Efting’s resignation nor begun talking about a replacement.
“We really haven’t had a chance to talk to each other at a council level,” Reynolds says. “I think this will be a job for the new council.”
The four top vote-getters on Election Day will be sworn in after the current council passes the budget at the Nov. 12 Town Council meeting. The new council also will pick a new mayor because terms limits have prevented longtime Mayor Judy Yoder from running for reelection.
Reynolds, along with Councilmen Mike Brown and Pete Buckley, will retain their posts because their seats are not open for reelection this year.
Incumbent council members Debbie Buckley, Mac McDevitt and Brian Sipes are running against nine challengers to keep their seats.
As for the length of time it takes to replace Efting, that depends on whether the council promotes from within the town or does a state- or nationwide search, Reynolds says.
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.