Smith Hymes: The important work we’re doing in Avon | VailDaily.com

Smith Hymes: The important work we’re doing in Avon

Sarah Smith Hymes
Valley Voices

While the debate about the Hahnewald barn dominated the headlines in recent months, the 90 employees of the town of Avon were hard at work every day delivering exceptional municipal services while continuing to implement the ambitious initiatives of Avon’s strategic plan. 

The strategic plan is updated annually and reviewed quarterly by the Avon Town Council. The most recent iteration of the plan reflects input from the community survey completed in August 2018, open houses and other community outreach. This 11-page document, which details the plan’s purpose, vision, key outcomes and prioritized strategies, can be found at http://www.avon.org/strategicplan.

Here’s a quick update on the work of the town.  

Eric Heil, Avon’s town attorney for the past 10 years, was hired as the new town manager, effective April 29.  The search to fill the position was expertly conducted in-house by Lance Richards, the town’s director of human resources. It yielded more than 100 resumes and two rounds of stakeholder interviews. Eric’s extensive experience as a land planner and municipal attorney, his profound grasp of Avon’s challenges and opportunities, and the creative and detailed plan he outlined to elevate community outreach and engagement were key considerations in his selection.

The Whitewater Park Repair Project on the Eagle River by Bob the Bridge is complete, just in time for runoff season. Boulders were relocated and reset at the three features. Activating the riverfront, one of Avon’s most valuable natural assets, is one strategy to shore up the shoulder and summer season economy as rising temperatures shorten the ski seasons.  

Aligned with the adoption of the community housing plan, the Avon Town Council is considering a number of amendments to the town code to encourage attainable housing. Potential changes include inclusionary housing requirements, development bonuses, fee waivers and increasing the primary residence real estate transfer tax exemption. Further discussion will resume at the May 14t council meeting.

Avon was designated an Opportunity Zone by the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade. Enacted as part of the 2017 federal tax reform, Opportunity Zones incentivize private equity investment in businesses and real estate ventures through deferral, reduction and potential elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes. Avon will develop a prospectus to highlight the advantages of investing in Avon. Avon is the only Opportunity Zone in Eagle County.

The Zagster bike share program was relaunched on April 1. For $2 daily or $10 annual memberships, residents and visitors can access a convenient, affordable way to get around town. Twenty-five cruiser bikes are available at six stations for on-demand local trips. Avon’s bike-share program is part of a multimodal effort to enhance the visitor experience and reduce personal vehicle usage and parking demand.

Avon, an active member of the Climate Action Collaborative for Eagle County, has invited the collaborative to present its 2018-19 annual report to the town council on May 14. Results of the Climate Action Collaborative community survey, 2018 carbon reduction results, achievements of members (including Avon) and 2019 priorities will be addressed. Two highlights are the Waste Wizard app and the Renewable Energy Calculator, which makes immediate action on greenhouse gas reduction accessible to everyone.

The town recently partnered with Vail Honeywagon to place a compost drop-site container at the Avon regional recycling center. Vail Honeywagon has established a variety of drop sites for residents who would like to participate in the compost program. If you are interested in signing up for a compost drop-site membership, please contact Vail Honeyagon at requests@vailhoneywagon.com.

The Avon Recreation Center is in the middle stage of a capital remodel and upgrade. Upon completion of the project, the recreation center will feature:

  • A new yoga and multipurpose studio.
  • An expanded cardio exercise area featuring 11 new treadmills, new bikes, AMTs, Arc Trainers and Peloton bikes.
  • A new Cybex strength equipment.
  • A new 2,650-square foot advanced strength training room.
  • Fitness studio equipped with TRX and Wellbeats on-demand fitness classes

The Avon Police Department was accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. Less than 1% of law enforcement agencies in the United States are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and Avon’s is the smallest agency in Colorado to earn this honor.  Additionally, the Avon PD recently received a five-year accreditation renewal through the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Last but not least, an exciting summer of community-oriented special events is being planned. The season starts this Saturday with an Easter Egg hunt in Nottingham Park, followed by the town cleanup — with free food and music — on May 23. Eight free Avon Live concerts are scheduled on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. And, of course, the unparalleled Salute to the USA on July 3. Stay tuned for special event updates coming soon. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.avon.org/special events.

See you around town.

Sarah Smith Hymes is the mayor of the town of Avon. Email her at shymes@avon.org.