New council will decide whether or not to send Avon barn question to voters
AVON — With one election over, another may be looming.
When the new Avon Town Council is sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 11, one of its first action items will be to decide if it wants to hold a special election regarding the fate of the Hahnewald barn.
The more than 100-year-old barn is set to be demolished in June 2019 if it is not able to be moved off the Eagle Water & Sanitation District’s property. A plan to temporarily place the barn in the parking lot of the former Town Hall on the west end of Benchmark Road has been presented for a cost of $390,000. Beyond that, the council has been presented with options to put the barn where the former Town Hall and fire station buildings currently exist. Those plans are in the $5 million to $8 million range, not including the cost of demolishing the buildings that are currently there. Those demolitions are expected to cost about $600,000 apiece.
In the final meeting of the existing Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 13, a majority of the board agreed that it should be the next council that decides whether an election should take place, but a resolution should be on the agenda in case they are ready to have that election, as time is of the essence.
“This was a very prominent issue during the election,” said council member Megan Burch, who offered a swing decision to the six other council members who appeared to be split on whether or not to make the special election call themselves or send it to the next council.
“I feel like people voted based on some of their feelings on the barn, and I don’t think it’s fair to make a decision knowing that we’re about to seat the newly elected council,” Burch said.
Burch, along with council member Matt Gennett, will vacate the council on Dec. 11 as Avon residents Chico Thuon and Tamra Nottingham Underwood are sworn in.
Town attorney Eric Heil said if a resolution were passed on Dec. 11, a special election could be held in late January or early February. Heil also said if a resolution were passed at the council’s next regular meeting after that, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 8, a special election could still likely take place in advance of the council’s Tuesday, Feb. 26, council meeting.
Both scenarios would allow enough time for the council to decide to fund the move, should the election offer direction on that issue.
LANGUAGE TO BE DECIDED
Just what question will be asked in the election, however, remains undecided.
One question that won’t be asked is whether or not to seek financing on the project, as that question would have to be asked in a November election per Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights legislation.
Council members expressed opinions and concern over the wording of a potential ballot question.
“It might be a three- or four-part question that brings in the rec center, the fire station, the Town Hall site, individually and then as a whole, for whether there is a community appetite for this,” Mayor Jennie Fancher said.
Gennett said he didn’t like the idea of combining the barn question with other issues.
Council member Scott Prince, who was re-elected in November, agreed with Gennett.
“Is it pitched as ‘hey, we could do restrooms,’ when we could do restrooms under a separate plan?” Prince asked. “We need to be very careful with the language of that ballot.”
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.