Stewardship concern behind Pardee’s run
When he arrived in Vail in 1980 from Michigan’s upper peninsula, Larry Pardee, 43, had set his sights on becoming a member of the U.S. Ski Team.
He didn’t ski his way onto the team but he did fall in love with this area and quickly found a job with the town of Vail. Today he’s Vail’s Public Works, Streets and Maintenance manager.
Pardee is also one of two candidates who want to serve on the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s board of directors, representing Avon. He’s opposing incumbent Mac McDevitt for a four-year term on the board that oversees drinking water supplies and sewer operations. The election is Tuesday.
But “opposing” may be too strong a characterization of his motives – he says he does not have any axes to grind with the operation of the board.
“In this country everybody assumes something negative,” Pardee says. ” I’m not running a ‘take the bums out’ campaign. I just want to help. I’ve been wanting to do something for a while now. This is something that I can do something about.”
It’s the challenge of ensuring enough water for future development and also that water rates remain fair and equitable that attracted him to the position.
He also decided to get involved more deeply in local affairs after attending a six-month-long White River Institute leadership training program where the participants were asked what they could do to make the community a better place.
“I’m not a town council or planning and zoning type of person,” he says. “This is something I can do.”
He and wife Kris live in Avon’s Wildridge and have two young daughters. When he’s not working, he says, he likes to ski with his family. As a board member, Pardee says he’d like to set an example for his children.
“I would like to be a good steward (of water),” he says. “That’s the crux of it.”
Pardee said he would like to help craft the decisions that will ensure there will be adequate water for the county’s projected population of 75,000 or more by 2025.
“Are we making the (right) choices today for when that point comes,” he says.
A more immediate concern is the impending drought this year. Snowpack is equal to or lower than it was prior to the drought of 2002, the worst in more than 300 years.
“(The lack of) water worries me. A lot of stuff starts right here in this little watershed,” he says. “This is a fragile environment and I want to protect it.”
To maintain adequate supplies, Pardee said he wants to make sure water district residents are fully educated on the benefits of water conservation. He says Vail has installed a computer-controlled irrigation system in its public parks that monitors the weather before watering. If it’s raining, it doesn’t irrigate.
“It’s a godsend,” he says.
A second objective is to ensure that water rates remain fair for district residents. “They have escalated in the past two years,” he says.
Part of the challenge, he says, will be keeping rates within reason while the district faces huge waterline and sewer line replacement expenses. Many of the pipes are brittle cast iron, and have broken, forcing costly repairs. It’s estimated the district will need to spend $30 million to replace the older pipes in Vail.
Pardee said his 23 years as a public servant will be an asset if he’s elected to the position. “I want to be fair, open and honest to all points of view,” he says. “I hope I can be the voice of fairness and can represent all user groups. That’s my objective.”
Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.