Kristi Ferraro seeks ‘vibrant downtown’ |

Kristi Ferraro seeks ‘vibrant downtown’

Preston Utley/Vail DailyTown Councilwoman Kristi Ferraro, shown with her family, says downtown Avon must become more 'inviting and energetic.'

AVON, Colorado ” More than four years ago, Kristi Ferraro and several homeowners on Eaglebend Drive weren’t happy with the idea of seeing a hotel and strip mall pop up on the north side of I-70 in the Village at Avon, where they would rather see parks, a school and a low-key neighborhood.

They didn’t want to see Stone Bridge Drive, the main entrance to their own neighborhood, become a through street and connect to East Beaver Creek Boulevard. They wanted a cul-de-sac de sac at the end of Eagle Bend Drive to prevent Wal-Mart traffic from driving through their quiet, kid-filled neighborhood.

“Our neighborhood got activated because of the Village at Avon ” it got me realizing the town council wasn’t on track at that point,” Ferraro said.

Ferraro said she and her neighbors made their case to the town council and actually made a difference ” Eaglebend got its cul-de-sac, Stone Bridge was never made a through street, and the strip mall plan was scrapped.

In the meantime, Ferraro got involved, fired up and ran for Avon town council.

Ferraro, who’s now seeking her second four-year term on the council, lives in Avon with her husband, Craig, and two sons, Brett and Peter.

She’s a real estate and business lawyer ” work that involves going through detailed contracts and making sure her clients are protected in business deals. Considering the number of contracts and complex agreements the town has to wade through every year, having an extra set of legal eyes is a big benefit to the town, Ferraro said.

“The development agreement with the Village at Avon is so complicated and sophisticated ” it’s taken time for me even as a lawyer to get my arms around it,” Ferraro said.

She feels the council has accomplished quite a bit in the past few years, and is most proud of creating an Urban Renewal Authority and getting bonds approved to start building the new Main Street.

“I feel Avon had a lot of untapped potential ” and a big goal of mine four years ago was making a more vibrant downtown, and I think we’re doing that,” Ferraro said.

It helps that the current council has a wide variety of perspectives, and generally gets along, she said.

“I’m on a board that really works well together,” Ferraro said. “Everyone listens to everyone else, and they’re able to change minds.”

Ferraro grew up in California and vacationed in Colorado with her family. She attended the University of Colorado, where she met her husband. They’ve moved around the country since then ” back to California while she attended law school at University of California, Berkeley, some time in Philadelphia, a few years in Denver, and before moving to Avon, a few years in Snowmass.

The Ferraros spend their time doing the usual mountain things, like skiing and hiking, but they also like to travel. They participated in “home exchange” programs with families in London, Australia and Hawaii, where you literally switch houses for a couple weeks.

She and her husband really like raising their children in a small mountain town as opposed to a place like Denver.

“As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and the community is so small here that we can look out for each other’s children,” Ferraro said.

Ferraro participates in the Eagle River cleanup every year, and does a lot of pro-bono legal work for different organizations like the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and Eagle County Charter Academy, where her sons go to school.

1. What is Avon’s biggest challenge right now, and how should the town council deal with it?

Creating an inviting and energetic town core to improve the sense of place and sense of community in Avon is the most important challenge facing our town right now. In the past four years we have taken great strides toward a more vibrant downtown with our community-created Comprehensive Plan, as well as laying out plans for the West Town Center and East Avon.

We have funded the West Town Center plan, with no increase in taxes, via an urban renewal authority. We have already broken ground on Lake Street, and will begin construction of Main Street in 2009. We are now exploring tools to implement our vision and plans for East Avon.

These tools will include incentives offered to property owners to build according to our vision, as well as creative ways to fund public improvements. It will be important for the Avon Town Council to maintain the political will and public-private partnership participation to see these projects through to completion.

2. Avon’s new Main Street has been on the drawing board for years ” now it’s actually happening. How can the council ensure that redevelopment of this area goes smoothly and downtown Avon is a success?

For Avon’s new Main Street to be a success, not only does the town need to invest in the streetscape, which we have done with no increase in taxes via an urban renewal authority, but we also need investments from the owners of property bordering Main Street.

The private sector will be willing to invest in Main Street if Avon shows the political will to make it successful, so that politics won’t derail the town’s commitment to Main Street.

Private investors will be convinced of political will if there is community support for the project and a stable town council. Our recent community survey showed significant support for Main Street: Avon’s full-time homeowners, second-home owners and renters all agreed that development of Avon’s town core was the most important issue facing Avon.

One of the reasons I am seeking re-election is to help provide the stability on our town council necessary for the success of Main Street. The long time owners of Columbine Bakery recently opened Ticino restaurant on Main Street because they have confidence in the community’s vision and political will. Their confidence and success should encourage others to follow.

3. How would you describe the town’s relationship with developer Traer Creek over the past couple years? How can that relationship improve ” or should the town take a hard line?

Traer Creek is developing the Village at Avon, which at 1,800 acres, is the largest undeveloped piece of land within the town boundaries and is probably the largest opportunity for development in the entire valley floor.

The Village at Avon has the potential to benefit our community and the developer at the same time. This land is spacious enough to include the mid-box retail developments, mixed-use neighborhoods, and upscale mountain lots that the developer is banking on, as well as the parks, affordable housing, open space, school site and ice skating rink promised by the developer, with room left over for other uses this community needs, such as attainable housing and a hospital site.

The approvals granted by the Avon Town Council in 1998 gave away most of the town’s oversight of this development, severely limiting the town’s ability to demand good planning for this property. Consequently, the land is being developed without a master plan, in piecemeal fashion, potentially squandering many of the opportunities it presents.

In the past few years Avon has approved several changes to the development requested by Traer Creek, but has required counterbalancing public benefits with those changes.

Traer Creek has been pennywise and pound foolish, making no progress on a vision for its project, choosing instead to spend its time and resources on fighting with Avon over legal technicalities and trying to save money by refusing to pay for municipal services, irrigation ditch repairs and bus service within the village.

These are issues that reasonable people can resolve with open and public discussion. I remain hopeful that the Village at Avon will one day become an asset to Avon and to the entire Vail Valley.

4. Avon has taken-on several “green” initiatives in the past year, such as buying wind power and developing a snowmelt system for Main Street using excess heat from the wastewater treatment plant. Should the town continue pursuing projects like these? What’s your philosophy on how Avon should approach environmental stewardship?

Avon, along with the rest of the Vail Valley, has an enviable natural setting; one of this community’s biggest assets. As an Avon town council member, I have pushed for and supported initiatives that protect our natural environment.

I am willing to invest in a revolutionary heating system that will use waste heat from the sewer treatment plant to melt snow and heat pool water at the rec center. I am willing spend more on hybrid busses and wind energy.

Besides just the municipal government, we are a town full of environmental stewards; 70 percent of the respondents of Avon’s Community Survey agree with the current town government’s philosophy. I want to continue to serve on the town council to ensure that our town stays on the forefront of energy efficiency and sets an example for other communities around the world.

5. A new master plan is being developed for Nottingham Park. What improvements are top priority for you?

Improving Nottingham Lake is my top priority for improvements to the park. Nottingham Lake is the feature that sets our park apart from other parks in the Vail Valley.

It has a lot of potential as a recreational amenity in our town, but it is underutilized mostly because the lake edge is not inviting or accessible. Adding a safe wading area to the lake would provide a whole new water play area for kids. Improving the lake edge would make fishing more accessible, picnicking by the lake more pleasant and walking, ice skating and boating around the lake more scenic.

Improving Nottingham Lake’s clarity would make it more desirable for swimming and kayaking. In my opinion, improving the lake would make Nottingham Park a destination for people from all over the valley.

6. What can the council do to keep working-class families in Avon?

The most important thing the council can do to keep working class families in Avon is to ensure that Avon always has housing that can be purchased and rented by locals. However, we must also have high quality jobs and good schools to keep working class families in town.

Our recent housing study showed that Avon has more than 600 deed restricted rental units in town, but only about 50 units of deed restricted “for sale” housing. Avon’s biggest priority should be to provide more attainable housing that can be purchased by locals.

In March of this year, Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission and town council adopted specific housing strategies to increase the supply of “for sale” attainable housing in Avon. Our housing study also showed that Avon houses about 30 percent of its workforce, as well as a substantial portion of Vail’s and Beaver Creek’s workforce. I believe we will increase the percentage of people who both live and work in Avon by attracting high quality jobs to town.

This phenomenon is already occurring with the opening of the Westin Riverfront Resort, because people who previously worked at resorts in Vail and Beaver Creek have found comparable jobs closer to their home in Avon. Just think what having a hospital facility would do for our town.

The council can help provide good schools in town by supporting our local schools.

For the past three years Avon has helped fund the unique, year-round Gore Range Science School program at Avon Elementary School that has become a model for other science programs in the school district. The town also rents vacant land to Stone Creek Charter School in Avon, which provides another school choice in Avon.

7. What more can Avon do to take advantage of its place at the base of Beaver Creek and provide a great experience for tourists?

My 2004 platform had a goal to make the most of Avon’s proximity to Beaver Creek, because providing a great experience for tourists in Avon is good for both our residents and our guests. Making Avon a resort destination helps our residents by increasing tax revenues to the town, allowing Avon to enhance services to our residents.

A better connection to Beaver Creek via the transit center and gondola benefits residents because fewer tourists will use cars, freeing our roads and parking lots. Providing high quality second-home opportunities in the town core is good for Avon residents because it will help keep our locals’ neighborhoods from turning into ghost towns of second homes.

With the opening of the Riverfront gondola, our new transit center, and the Westin Riverfront Resort, Avon took a giant leap forward as a tourist destination at the base of Beaver Creek. The opening of the Westin Riverfront Resort provides a top notch hotel, conference facility, spa and first-quality restaurant in Avon, and its guests will benefit the businesses in Avon and Beaver Creek.

As Avon’s town core becomes more vibrant, pedestrian friendly and inviting with the Main Street project and redevelopment of the East Town Center, Avon’s stature as a resort will continue to rise to the benefit of our entire community.

8. Why should Avon residents vote for you?

As an incumbent, I know the tremendous headway we’ve made in Avon in the last four years, including significant progress on the goals I was elected to achieve four years ago. I’m seeking re-election to make sure we complete our tasks.

I want to keep the Main Street project and the redevelopment of East Avon on track and true to the community’s vision. I want to see our complex, four-government, historic land exchange through to completion, continue to expand Avon’s trails and bike paths, and implement the community’s vision articulated in the Nottingham Park Master Plan.

I want to make our innovative heating system using wastewater a reality and keep Avon in the forefront of energy efficiency. I also want to ensure that Avon always has housing that can be purchased and rented by locals. In addition, I’d like to enhance the sense of community in Avon, so that everyone feels sincerely connected to our town the way that I do.

I want to remain on the Avon Town Council because achieving these goals takes hard work, intelligence, creativity and an ability to deal with complexity. My first term proved I am up to the task. Avon residents should vote for me so that Avon can continue the significant progress of the past four years.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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