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Tamra Underwood, Avon Town Council candidate

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Tamra Underwood
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Tamra Underwood, 43, is a descendant of Avons original homesteaders. She is an attorney who has worked for Vail Resorts and the town of Avon. She now works for Vail-based Booth Creek Ski Holdings. Underwood has lived in Avon since she was 4. Her great-grandfather was Avon’s original homesteader. She said she will insist on quality and sustainable growth.”I want Avon to grow in a positive direction,” said Underwood, a corporate attorney. “We need growth that is a benefit to the town and the valley as a whole. For example, the river is underutilized and the gateway to Beaver Creek, too.”

Q. What do you expect to be your job as a council member?A. As a member of our Avon Town Council, I look forward to moving Avon in a positive direction both in the short and long-term. Having grown up in Avon, working in Avon as an attorney and raising my part of the fifth generation of Nottinghams in Avon gives me a unique perspective. As a town councilor, I will apply my passion for Avon to make sophisticated decisions on urban planning, fiscal responsibility and other day-to-day business that comes directly before the council. But I will also seek to get Avon involved in matters that can affect our town indirectly, such as public school excellence and preservation of valuable open space. The Avon Town Council must be a leader, not only within our town boundaries, but within our amazing valley too.Q. How would you manage growth in the town?A. Avon’s growth is inevitable but the Avon Town Council must drive growth that is healthy, sustainable and reflective our of small town character. While each development must be evaluated on its own merits by asking, “What assets and liabilities does this project bring to Avon,” an overall vision for Avon must remain our overriding concern. We are currently updating Avon’s comprehensive plan and this written vision for Avon must be a remarkable document that recognizes our desire to live in a great town – a town that has a vibrant and successful core, pleasant and compatible residential areas, preserved open space and historical sites, and fully-utilized amenities.Q. What are the three most pressing issues facing the town?A. First, Avon is not only “The Heart of the Valley” it is the world’s gateway to Beaver Creek – no one else can claim this or take advantage of the vast opportunities presented by this fact. A gondola link and a healthy relationship with the Beaver Creek community are essential to our town’s success, helping attract redevelopment of our town core. Second, is our need to get people out of their cars while in Avon; living in and frequently visiting our town; lingering with Avon’s quality merchants and service providers; and enjoying our unique recreational facilities and public spaces. Avon needs to become more pedestrian friendly. Third, to the greatest extent possible, we must drive the Village at Avon development in a positive way, assuring that it hosts healthy and sustainable growth that is reflective our of small town character. Q. Locals have voiced concerns about transportation. Would you support expanding the transportation system around town?A. Moving locals and guests around Avon efficiently is an important role for the town and I believe it should be in partnership with private contributors. Mass transit is certainly an important component of making Avon more pedestrian-friendly, but providing the frequency, routes and facilities that make patrons happy is a costly and complicated matter. Rising fuel costs, air pollution and other limitations make busing an imperfect method. Along with more traditional approaches, maybe we should be entertaining some maverick ideas like employing eco-friendly vehicles along the railroad corridor. I look forward to helping solve Avon’s transportation dilemma.Q. What do you see in the future for the Village at Avon?A. To the greatest extent possible, we must drive the Village at Avon development in a positive way, assuring that this project hosts healthy and sustainable growth that is reflective of Avon’s small town character. When faced with rare opportunities to effect change in Magnus Lindholm’s development, the Avon Town Council needs to have set clear priorities to affect positive change and then demand such change. The hottest topic currently facing us all is the proper location of the school site. The town needs to understand what the school district wants and needs and must then work to achieve it.If the Village at Avon were a very long book, I think we are only in about Chapter Two – while the table of contents was written in 1998, with further citizen and expert input I know we can re-write parts of future chapters to enhance the public benefits in the project. It is the duty of the Avon Town Council to do whatever it can to make the Village at Avon an asset to our community and the valley at large. Q. How could the town profit from its proximity to Beaver Creek?A. Avon is not only “The Heart of the Valley,” it is the world’s Gateway to Beaver Creek – no one else can claim this or take advantage of the vast opportunities presented by this fact. A gondola link and a healthy relationship with the Beaver Creek community is essential. Directly linking Avon to its world-class neighbor will serve locals, visitors and businesses in Avon by facilitating the valley’s core commodity – skiing – but also bring Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch guests to Avon for dining and shopping alternatives, family entertainment and nightlife, and unique recreational opportunities. The respective success of Avon and Beaver Creek are tied – we must embrace this opportunity. Q. What can the town do to make it more convenient to walk around?A. While it may be a little known fact that humans can cross Avon Road and Beaver Creek Boulevard on foot, I hope to make our town even more pedestrian friendly! Our street and parking patterns need to make sense, the scale of new and redeveloped buildings needs to feel comfortable and inviting, and vehicular traffic needs to be calmed. All of these are long-term and grand goals that the town must work to achieve. In the short-term, tasteful pedestrian crossing lights at our terrifically-efficient roundabouts and other simple, pedestrian enhancing capital improvements, can make Avon an more appealing and successful town.Vail Colorado

AVON – One could say Tamra Nottingham Underwood’s feelings for the town of Avon are reflected in the old ranch house next to the Eagle River she is restoring with her husband and two children.The 1908 wood house, built by Underwood’s great uncle, Clyde Nottingham, stands proudly in the middle of several modern buildings of condos and townhomes.The spirit of old Colorado still breathes throughout the property, which Underwood, 40 – the great granddaughter of William Nottingham, who in 1887 homesteaded the 160 acres of land now called Avon – bought four years ago from her parents.Outside, dozens of mature cottonwoods, aspens and spruce shelter the house from the busier streets of Avon. Inside, the house, which smells of old oak and still has the original windows, is filled with old photos of historic Avon and Underwood’s ancestors.”I want to conserve historical sites and structures and show that Avon’s heritage is an amenity that can be cherished and shared,” said Underwood, one of six candidates vying for one of three seats at the Avon Town Council.After talking to Underwood, it appears she wants to take care of the town of Avon in the same way she’s taking care of her great uncle’s house. “Avon and this house are home more than anything,” said Underwood, whose platform includes the creation of parks, more recreational opportunities and open space.”I don’t want to stop change but to keep change moving in a positive direction,” she added. “The reason I decided to run for council is I decided to put my money where my mouth was and hopefully sit on the board and have a vote for the future of Avon. Avon is on the brink of an important time with ongoing development and redevelopment.”A new town core is among the things Underwood envisions for Avon.”She’s passionate about keeping Avon the way Avon should be kept,” said Darien Underwood, who’s been married to Tamra for 13 years. “She’s one of the most popular locals who have a voice. She knows what she’s talking about and she’s extremely well educated.”‘Heart of the Valley’Underwood has lived in the valley since 1968 and attended schools within the Eagle County School District since kindergarten, graduating from Battle Mountain High School in 1982. She has a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Colorado and she obtained her law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Once the town of Avon prosecutor, Underwood has also served as counsel to Vail Resorts for nine years and currently serves as counsel to Vail-based Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc. Her career as a volunteer includes work with the Eagle Valley Community Fund, The Learning Tree, The Children’s Garden of Learning and the Eagle County Charter Academy. “I agree that Avon is ‘The Heart of the Valley,'” said Underwood referring to the town’s slogan, “and therefore believe Avon’s issues are everyone’s issues. I’d like to strengthen Avon’s relationship with Beaver Creek for our common good. This winter season, the two communities will be more closely connected for the first time by ski lifts.”Although in July she joined an outcry against the new 150-foot flagpole in the Wal-Mart parking lot at the Village at Avon, Underwood said if she gets on council she’ll do everything she can to move the Village at Avon in a direction beneficial to both locals and visitors.”There’s so many chapters yet to be written on that project and I’m optimistic about it,” she said of the largest residential and retail complex in Eagle County, a development that will ultimately double the size of the town. Climbing fourteenersUnderwood said she also wants to help create an atmosphere that attracts small businesses.”Tamra has the vision to bring a true village core to fruition, creating a sense of place in Avon that will allow small businesses the opportunity to survive and thrive,” said longtime local Chris Doyle, 34, an Avon resident and general manager of Bob’s Place. “Casting a vote for Tamra is ensuring new energy among our town’s decision-makers.”Longtime valley rancher and historian, Frank Doll, 83, said Underwood’s goal as an Avon council person would be “to shepherd the development of the land toward an entity of excellence and of the highest quality.” “Wife, mother, attorney, athlete, citizen. These are traits and accomplishments inherited, nourished and refined by Tamra Underwood,” said Doll, who lives next to the Underwoods in Avon. In the meantime, Underwood said she’ll continue fly fishing, hiking fourteeners -she recently hiked one to celebrate her 40th birthday- and camping with her husband and two children.”There’s a little bit of a trophy at the end of a fourteener,” she said. “And you get to spend eight hours with your friends.”Staff writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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