Seven vie for empty Avon council seat
Avon’s council is famous for its speedy meetings, some lasting less than 10 minutes, while other councils in the valley labor late into the night. Cuny, an outspoken councilman who was about seven months shy of completing his first four-year-term, resigned earlier this month because he and his family have moved to Singletree, in Edwards. He had to quit because Avon council members must be residents of the town.
The remaining six council members will choose his replacement May 28 from a field of seven applicants: Bob Angel, Tab Bonidy, Rene Martinez, Steve Michonski, Tim Savage, Brian Sipes and Barbara Wilson. The new council member will likely take his or her seat at the June 11 council meeting.
“Everything we do is centered around Avon. Our business is here. Our home is here. We ski at Vail and Beaver Creek. We have all our fun here,” said Bonidy, 43, an architect who runs TAB Associates, Inc. in Avon. “So I’m extremely interested in the success of Avon.”
A council member chosen as a replacement only keeps his or her seat until the next town election, which for Avon is in November, when Cuny’s term would have expired anyway.
“The reason I want to be on the town council is it gives me an opportunity to give back to the community that I’m living in with all of my expertise in working in large corporations over last 25 years,” said Angel, 44, a semi-retired sales representative at the Vail Daily.
Michonski, 34, a real estate broker at Prudential Gore Range Properties, said he doesn’t want Avon to lose its links to the slopes.
“Avon is definitely the retail center of the upper valley but I’d like to see it remain part of the ski industry and resort community, too,” Michonski said. “I think it’s vital not just to focus on strip malls.”
In the upcoming months –and over the next 20 years – Town Council will have to oversee the construction of the sprawling Village at Avon shopping and residential complex on the eastern edge of Avon.
Retailing giants The Home Depot and Wal-Mart will build stores in the shopping center and 2,400 homes are planned in the residential side of the project.
Town Council also will continue to negotiate with Vail Resorts on the company’s plan to build a gondola from Avon to the slopes at Beaver Creek’s Strawberry Park. Vail Resorts has asked Avon to help pay for the gondola and council members have said that would likely require a tax increase.
Avon will have even more say over the ski village that Vail Resorts wants to build between the Eagle River and the Seasons Building on Benchmark Road. The village, currently known as “Avon Landing,” would be the launching point for the gondola and is entirely within the town limits.
“I’m a big fan of the gondola coming into Avon,” Michonski said. “I don’t necessary think Avon should pay for it, but we should do everything else we can do to get it in there.”
Town Council members have so far said they won’t decide if Avon will help pay for the gondola until they’ve seen and approved the final plans for Avon Landing.
“Strategically placed development is a good thing, and it has to do with growth and the survival of a community. Look around the country and see what’s happened to areas that have no growth,” said Bonidy, who moved to Avon in 1995. “I am not of the mindset that I’m the last one that’s going to move here.”
Angel said the council has to weigh the financial benefits of new development with the uncluttered mountain setting that many people moved to the valley seeking.
“I believe growth has to be balanced,” Angel said.
Angel, who moved to Avon a year-and-a-half ago, said one of his strengths is his understanding of the business community.
“I have a lot of expertise in dealing with both sides of the community – the business and the public,” he said. “I’ve worked very, very closely with cities and towns throughout the U.S.”
Michonski, who’s been in Avon for three years, said one reason he’s running is that he lives on Nottingham Lake – in contrast to five of the six remaining council members who live up on the hill, in Wildridge. Only Councilman Mike Brown, who lives in Sunridge, doesn’t own a home in Wildridge.
“I live on the lake and I think there’s two different parts of Avon that need representation,” he said.
Bonidy said he’d like to work on making Avon easier and safer for tourists and residents to walk around.
“There was thought given years ago to putting Avon Road underground and opening a pedestrian mall. I think that would be just a great thing,” Bonidy said. “That’s a future improvement and there’s a lot of work that goes into getting there but in the big picture if Avon was a little more pedestrian-friendly, it’d be a great thing.”
Michonski said he’d like to see the streets of Avon a little less tangled.
“I’m for straight roads and ski slopes,” he said. “I would like to straighten all the roads in Avon.”
The other four applicants could not be reached for comment.
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.