Should Avon dress up for 2015?
AVON, Colorado – Each week, the Vail Daily is doing a Q&A with Avon town council candidates to help voters get better acquainted with their views. Six candidates will be competing for four seats in November’s election.Incumbents Rich Carroll and Dave Dantas are both vying to keep their jobs. The seats belonging to Brian Sipes and Ron Wolfe will be opening up because both have reached their term limits.Challengers include Chris Evans, a local builder and longtime planning commission chairman in Avon; Todd Goulding, Avon’s current planning commission chairman and owner of a development consulting company; Jim Benson, a former town councilman who owns an insulation company and, formerly, Box Office Video; and write-in candidate Paul Siemonsma, senior estimator at the Gallegos Corp. and president of West Lake Village’s Home Owners Association.Question: What physical improvements, if any, should the town make leading up to the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships?Jim Benson: I think the most important thing for the town to worry about is its financial situation. I think the town needs to be fiscally responsible right now during these economic times. We should be looking for ways to minimize our expenditures, not trying to spend more money/tax dollars. We have a good looking, functional town. Let’s get out of these financial trouble times first then see if there is something we need to do before the World Cup comes to town. The World Cup is four and half years away. I think by then, or even a year before, things will be different.So at this time we should not be spending more money for the World Cup. Rich Carroll: Each day we work for a better and vibrant Avon community. My first priority is the basics such as roads, parks, transit and police. The health and safety for our citizens and guests must be maintained.I judge improvements on the following criteria. Does Avon have the money? Will the improvement truly benefit our residents and business community? Can Avon afford to maintain the improvement?Main Street should be built, even in a basic form, when it makes sense financially. Avon will pursue the redevelopment of East and West Avon as called for in our publicly adopted plans.Nottingham Park improvements will be guided by its master plan. Have you visited the new fishing pier, 64 percent of which was paid for by a federal grant? The Wildridge/Metcalf bike lane and Highway 6 path will be built in the next few years.This approach benefits our broad community and will enable Avon to shine for the World in 2015.Dave Dantas: Last year the Town Council planned a pavilion in Nottingham Park. The stage is designed on the north side of the municipal building. Spectators will view events from the soccer field. Partial cost comes from a Holy Cross Community fund. Naming rights, sponsorships and donations are needed for the remaining funds to build.Leading up to 2015 we will have a summer concert series, and spring, fall and special events in the park. Residents and guests will add needed vibrancy to the downtown by coming to the park.Avon Station will be incredibly busy in 2015. The mall area in front of Bob’s [Place] and Ticino can be reconfigured as a gathering place. For the event a Jumbotron and fire pit can be added.The Vail Valley Foundation and Beaver Creek did a great job securing 2015 World Championships. We now have to collaborate on mall improvements, transportation and funding for the pavilion.Chris Evans: I don’t believe that we should build anything solely for the 2015 World Championships, but rather evaluate any proposed town-funded development by what is in the town’s best long-term interests. Town-directed/funded development should be evaluated by four criteria: 1. Does it meet the comprehensive and sub-area master plans?2. What are the town’s priorities?3. Can we afford it?4. Does it benefit Avon’s merchants and citizens?As an example, consider the proposed Nottingham Park Pavilion. It meets criteria one and four. If we reached a written agreement that would utilize the pavilion for award ceremonies during the championships, this could directly benefit the town’s merchants. Currently, the pavilion is a low priority in the Nottingham Park master plan. The potential benefit merits raising the priority, so it could meet criteria three. Funding is another issue that would have to be carefully considered.Todd Goulding: Clearly, the 2015 World Alpine Championships will benefit the entire valley, including Avon, and I am excited our community has an opportunity to be involved. An event of this magnitude will involve many entities including the International Ski Federation (FIS), Vail Resorts and the Beaver Creek Metro District, to name a few. Avon should partner with these organizations and leverage their respective resources efficiently. However, to my knowledge, we have not been asked to provide anything specific by the coordinating committee. Avon’s ability to construct new improvements or partner in any project would depend upon the cost of those projects and their benefits to Avon and its residents. As is the case with any capital improvement, we must clearly understand the return on investment in order to support spending. Paul Siemonsma: Personally I would not make any improvements that are just for the Ski Championships. Instead I would concentrate on making improvements that would be for the betterment of the community in the long run. Avon’s new “Main Street” would be a good example of that. Also transportation will be a major issue with such a major event. Mass transit plans should be implemented to ensure visitors as well as locals have adequate means of getting to any and all events whether they be in Vail or Beaver Creek. With a major influx of people parking is going to be a major concern. Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.