How should Avon handle Traer Creek?
Vail, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado – Six candidates are now vying for four seats on Avon Town Council in the November election.
Incumbents Rich Carroll and Dave Dantas will be campaigning to keep their seats. The challengers are Chris Evans, a local builder and longtime Avon Planning Commission chairman, Todd Goulding, the current planning commission chairman, and former councilman Jim Benson. The latest person to join the fray is write-in candidate Paul Siemonsma, senior estimator at the Gallegos Corporation.
Two of the seats opening up in November belong to Ron Wolfe and Brian Sipes. Both are leaving office due to term limits.
Here, the candidates discuss the dynamic between the town and developers of Village at Avon. Ongoing lawsuits have put a strain on the relationship between Avon and the developers. As a result, the Village at Avon project has been largely stalled.
Vail Daily: How should the town manage the relationship with Traer Creek moving forward?
Jim Benson: In a single word: Carefully. As land owners they have rights. We need to remember that. As the town has supplied certain services we need to be reimbursed. That is the basic agreement that was set up when the Traer Creek development was annexed to the town. I was on the council during this time.
Unfortunately, what has been going on has been behind closed doors. So the incumbents have more knowledge as to the underlying issues. I do know we need to resolve things quickly and stop spending town funds in legal fees and staff time.
I know there are emotional issues as well within the current council and/or staff. I would bring a business mind and clean sense of “let’s resolve this conflict and let’s move forward.”
Rich Carroll: I want Traer Creek to be a successful project for the developer, the business community, and Avon residents. Development in the Village at Avon is a good thing. Traer Creek will always be treated in a fair, honest, open and public manner. This is how I manage relationships for Avon.
Your town has an account receivable balance from Traer over $3 million due to nonpayment. This is your taxpayer money and is increasing by $90,000 per month as their nonpayment continues.
Extensive discussions, meetings and negotiations have occurred between Avon and Traer Creek. It is awful that there is one lawsuit, much less two lawsuits. In the first case the courts have ruled three times in Avon’s favor. The second has not gone to trial. I will continue strong efforts at dialogue with an unwavering commitment to a solution that results in an equitable resolution for our citizens, town and Traer Creek.
Dave Dantas: The Town of Avon is currently involved in multiple lawsuits with Traer Creek. Because of the lawsuits I will not comment on the relationship between the Town of Avon and Traer Creek.
Chris Evans: Both the town and Traer Creek have a moral and legal obligation to abide by the adopted agreements between parties and live up to those requirements. The town has provided services and Traer Creek needs to pay for them. On this point the town should not compromise. However, those agreements are written such that there is more than one way of interpreting them depending on one’s perspective. Traer Creek thinks they are right and the town believes they are right as well. I think both parties need to try to better understand the other’s perspective on these issues and why they believe they are right. If we can understand how they view the situation without the inherent blinders brought on by defensiveness, we may be better able to reach a resolution without continuing to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Todd Goulding: The current relationship between the Town of Avon and Traer Creek, the largest landowner in the town, has degenerated into rounds of litigation in which only the lawyers will make money, resolving nothing for years.
However, there is a contract in place that both parties signed and both are bound to live by – a commitment is a commitment. Disagreements on interpretation need to be resolved through negotiation, not in court. Because I have considerable experience in conflict resolutions, I believe I would be well positioned to lead this effort.
Until then, we need to set aside the areas of disagreement and move forward, focusing on areas of common interest. Only by moving forward can we prepare Avon for development when the economy recovers. Traer Creek will be a large part of Avon’s future which can’t be hostage to a lose-lose situation in which only the attorneys win.
Paul Siemonsma: Before we can move forward the current situation will have to be resolved. That outcome will direct how any future forward progress will be engineered. Without knowing all of the ins and outs of everything that is currently happening in litigation makes this hard to answer. I would handle this relationship the same as any other relationship. Common sense, fair and professional. Every situation has a solution, you just have to be open to listen to all ideas as well as all points of view for both parties. You have to be willing to make some concessions until a median playing field is reached.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.