The race is on in Avon |

The race is on in Avon

Matt Zalaznick

Term limits prevent Mayor Judy Yoder from running for reelection after here more than 10 years on council.Meanwhile, incumbents, Debbie Buckley and Mac McDevitt will campaign to retain their seats while freshman Brian Sipes, appointed to replace Rick Cuny in June, will run for his first full term.Many candidates say Avon is at a critical point in its 24-year history, as construction on the sprawling Village of Avon slowly doubles the size of the town, new developments spring up, Vail Resorts continues to look for help building a gondola up to Beaver Creek Mountain, and the town’s finances are in a slump.The 12 candidates are profiled here in alphabetical order.- Bob Angel, 44, sales associate at Vail DailySmall businesses shouldn’t try to compete with megastores when the latter move into town, says candidate Bob Angel, who ran the European and Mid-Atlantic divisions of Petsmart before moving to Avon about two years ago.Avon’s small retailers will face the dilemma of co-existing with a much larger Wal-Mart and The Home Depot when the Village at Avon opens in east Avon next summer.”I can be extremely helpful with large stores coming in and give counsel to smaller businesses that need to co-exist with large corporations,” Angel says. “A lot of small businesses try to compete with the big stores instead of adapting. They’ll need some counsel on the transition and I’ve got 25 years of experience in retail and big-box operations.”Avon and Vail Resorts have to team up on the gondola the company wants to build from the town’s riverside confluence site up to the slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain.”It’s an advantage for the town and for Vail Resorts,” he says. “The town can’t pick up the whole bill. It should only pick up the portion of revenue it feels will come in to help businesses in the town.”Avon has to pay attention to traffic, Angel says.”Obviously, (U.S.) Highway 6 needs to be a four-lane highway around the area of the new superstores.”Angel says he spent a lot of his career “out of town” and never had time for civic matters. But now that he lives in Wildridge, he says he’s ready to pitch in.”Now that I have the opportunity and the business knowledge, I feel I can make a difference – that’s the biggest thing, making a difference,” he says.- Bobby Bank, 39, runs Vail Brochure DeliveryA few Avon neighborhoods are being ignored by the Town Council, says Bobby Bank, who lives on Eaglebend Road.Bank’s neighborhood comprises the closest homes in town to the sprawling Village at Avon, where construction is now underway and The Home Depot and Wal-Mart will open in summer 2003.”I just don’t think the current council really represents my neighborhood,” Bank says. “From the decisions they make and the stuff they say, I don’t think they really represent us.”Bank says he isn’t anti-development but was disappointed in the approval of the Village at Avon.”I think they gave away the whole store with the Village at Avon,” Bank says. “I’m for development, but it needs to be responsible.”Bank says he doesn’t plan to use a council spot as a launching post for a political career.”If I get elected, it’s a one-term deal,” he says. “I certainly don’t have any intention of making this a career. I would like to see a lot of other people do the same thing.”Bank was among the leaders of a group of Eaglebend residents who battled last year to get a cul-de-sac to close the end of their road to keep out traffic from the Village at Avon.”Whether I get elected or not, I would like to see a big change in the Town Council,” Bank says.- Editor’s note: A photo of this candidate was not available.- Tab Bonidy, 44, architect, runs Tab AssociatesA lot of major developments are on track in Avon, but the town’s future leaders have to make sure these projects aren’t derailed, says architect Tab Bonidy, who lives on Nottingham Road.”Some of the very important things have been established, but there are more things that come along with development, particularly at the Village of Avon,” Bonidy says. “There are all the things that will pop up – and they will pop up – with that development.”As Avon grows, its leaders have to pay careful attention to how it’s spending its money, tax revenues and its relationship with Vail Resorts, Bonidy says.”There are always things that can be handled differently,” he says. “I typically don’t point fingers at what’s gone wrong in the past. I’ve elected people to represent me and do the best job they can – and that’s what I expect if the public elects me.”A close relationship with Vail Resorts and the slopes of Beaver Creek is crucial to Avon’s success, Bonidy says.”Avon is the gateway to Beaver Creek and the previous councils have done a wonderful job with artistic value and created quite the entry to Beaver Creek,” Bonidy says. “Keeping our strong relationship with the resort is important.”Bonidy says he wants Avon to be a success for those who live there, like his wife and children and those who do business there.”I’m just extremely interested in protecting homeowners and small businessmen,” he says. “This is the town that I live in, work in. Everything we do centers around Avon.”I just feel I need to give my professional opinion back to the town,” he adds. “I have a lot of development background, and with all things going on in Avon, I think I can be a valuable asset.”- Editor’s note: A photo of this candidate was not available.- Debbie Buckley, 45, Web developer, runs InternetVail.comTown Hall is often empty for many of Avon’s Town Council meetings. Incumbent Councilwoman Debbie Buckley, after her first four-year-term, says that’s partly the council’s fault.”I think the council needs to assume some responsibility,” Buckley says. “The responsibility for communications lies with the communicator and that’s the council. Last time I ran I talked about that, but I don’t think we’ve made a lot of progress.”Recent issues, such as charging fares for Avon’s buses and a tax on building supplies, have stirred controversy at council meetings when residents have learned of those plans at the last minute – and then complained to the council.Buckley says if the council can spend more time on an issue, residents can get more involved with decision-making.”I think that sometimes we might make decisions too quickly,” she says. “Maybe we need to put off a decision to another meeting and try to publicize even more public hearings and invite more public input.”If reelected, Buckley says, she’d like to get to work on making the Wildridge neighborhood easier to get around on foot and bicycle.”We’ve looked at widening the road and putting a bike path around the road,” she says. “It’s really important because there are so many little kids, and no matter what the police do so many people are still coming through here too fast.”She says she also wants to make the construction at the Village at Avon easier to bear for Avon residents who live next door.”We’re trying to make this as livable as we can for them,” she says.Avon should also try to diversify its economy in the coming years, she says.”We have some financial issues, and I have some ideas about trying to work on economic development that goes beyond resort based income,” she says. “We’re hurting right now, just like everybody else.”- Rene Martinez, 27, building maintenance worker, Town of VailAvon needs more affordable housing, and its younger residents need more recreation options and educational opportunities, says Rene Martinez, the first Hispanic ever to run for Avon Town Council.”I believe in democracy and I think we should be represented,” says Martinez, a volunteer with La Mesa, a Hispanic advocacy group. “I think the community needs new ideas and I think I could help solve some problems and try to make it a better community for all.”Avon doesn’t have a lot of places for young people to go, he says.”We need more recreational activities for the youth. There are hardly any places here, like a bowling alley or indoor sports for the winter time – like a hockey arena or a skatepark,” he says.The town could also give teens a boost in life, Martinez says.”There could be more scholarships so we can get people started,” he says. “And there are other problems, like alcohol and drug abuse, that we need to help them out with a little more.”If Avon helps pay for a gondola to carry skiers from town up to the slopes of Beaver Creek, the town’s residents should share the benefits, he says.”If the community pays for that, they should get cheap tickets or part of the revenues,” he says.One of his priorities is leaving the town in better shape than he found it, Martinez says.”A lot of cities, they’re creating only problems for future generations,” he says. “I think if we grow at a certain rate, we’ll be able to accomplish a lot of things and not leave problems for the future.”But the residents’ desires will outweigh his priorities, Martinez says.”More than what I have to offer, I really want to know what’s important for everybody in this community,” he says. “I want to know what people would really like to change.”- Mike McClinton, 33, internal auditor, Vail ResortsThe Town Council is the next step in several years of community service, says Mike McClinton, now a member of Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission.”I moved to the area in 1996 and I believe being involved with the community is important,” says McClinton, who lives with his family at Avon Crossing. “Especially in this type of area where everything is kind of transient, the whole focus is on building a neighborhood.”McClinton volunteered for a summer with the Minturn Fire Department and has worked with the Snowboard Outreach Society. Being an auditor, he’s got his sights set on invigorating Avon’s economy, which is slumping along with towns throughout Colorado.”The doors have closed on several businesses. Simply building commercial space doesn’t insure businesses will come,” McClinton says. “We need to make sure we’re maintaining and recruiting the right businesses, something that’s going be here long-term.”A rejuvenated economy starts with some foresight, he says.”We need an economic plan for the town of Avon,” McClinton says. “I want to make sure we’re being fiscally smart and I want to ensure our tax money is managed and spent well.”Business could also be stimulated by better linking the two sides of Avon, McClinton says.”I believe creating a sense of place is extremely important for Avon,” he says. “Making everything one cohesive unit where east and west Avon work together – I would hope in four years I could do something like that.”The entire valley would benefit from more cooperation between towns and the county government, McClinton says.”Avon has made an effort to be the commercial center of the valley,” he says. “But the town could work with the other towns and the county to reduce the cost for the town and make the valley a better place and make it work better.”- Mac McDevitt, retired consultantUncertainty looms over Avon’s future -and a lot depends on the economy and the snow, says incumbent Mac McDevitt.”Depending on the economy, we’ve got some tough issues to face,” McDevitt says.The Home Depot and Wal-Mart are opening in the Village at Avon next year. But the town won’t get any sales tax revenues from the store for perhaps more than a decade. And if those two stores lure a significant amount of business away from other Avon stores, the town could face financial problems.”We’re going have a fall off in taxes -a pretty big fall that hopefully won’t be as big as projected,” McDevitt says. “We have to be good stewards of the town’s money and find ways to make up that shortfall.”A way to generate business would be to make the town more customer friendly, McDevitt says.”We’ve got to try and create more activity in the town,” he says. “We’ve got to have restaurants arranged like they are in Edwards. In Avon, they’re spaced apart and you can’t park in one place and have half-a-dozen restaurants to choose from.”McDevitt has a simple stance on the gondola.”I’m all for the gondola so long as Vail Resorts buys it,” McDevitt says. McDevitt also says the town deserves more money from the county government.”I’m unhappy the county government is spending money disproportionally in Edwards when we are paying the same taxes,” he says. “I’m going to try and correct that in the next four years.”McDevitt says it’s vital to have people on the council who understand the town.”It’s important to have continuity with people who really know the issues, rather than people who think they know the issues,” McDevitt says. “The next four years will be every bit as tough – if not more so -than the last four.”- Steve Miller, 54, cellular infrastructure equipment consultant,Town Council members are more interested in agreeing with each other than guiding the town, says Steve Miller, who was an Avon councilman from 1984 until 1988.”I’m concerned with what I perceive to be a lack of leadership in certain arenas,” Miller says. “There are a lot of very bright people on council right now, but it seems like consensus is their format rather than leadership.”Miller says he’s frustrated by the Town Council’s recent actions on building fees and taxes.In April, the town repealed a law requiring builders to pay a compliance deposit before starting work. Tuesday, a 4 percent tax on all building materials used in the town was put on the November ballot.”Back in February, the town was approached regarding a compliance deposit. I had a problem with it then and I have a problem with it now,” Miller says. “Then they turned around and put the construction material “use tax’ on the ballot under the name of letting growth pay.”The tax could drive people away from Avon, Miller says.”An intelligent buyer searches out fees and costs to help them determine where they want to build, obviously in an effort to reduce costs,” Miller says.By having extensive discussions of town business in afternoon work sessions, the council shuts some residents out, Miller says.”I think it’s difficult many times for people to make these afternoon meetings,” he says. “They have to find time for citizens to attend all of the business of the town.”The town and other agencies have to start worrying more about conserving water, Miller says.”The water authority is indicating that we’re in the middle of a minimum of a 5-year, and potentially longer, drought,” he says. “We have to be careful about growth and other things that have the potential of using water resources.”-Ron Neville, 35, general manager, Arrowhead and Bachelor. Gulch property managementGrowth, no matter where it is, takes vision, says Ron Neville.”I’ve been through growth like Avon’s going through in my job, both at Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch,” Neville says. “It takes a lot of foresight to increase a community’s size and maintain services and infrastructure.”But that’s a challenge Neville looks forward to.”Avon is in a real exciting time right now with all the new developments. There’s a lot out there right now with the Village at Avon, The Home Depot, Wal-Mart, the confluence,” he says. “It would be fun to be involved and make sure everything is going forward smoothly.”Neville says he’s no stranger to managing finances. He’s got an MBA in economics.”Another item I bring to the table is my financial background,” he says. “I handle 28 community associations that are essentially micro-towns.”Neville says the town has to prepare for a potential drop in sales tax revenues when The Home Depot and Wal-Mart open next year. The town won’t get sales tax from the stores until the shopping center’s developer pay off its bonds.”We need to pay attention to what’s coming up and make sure we’re preparing to handle the downfall and help instigate clients moving into the old Wal-Mart building,” Neville says.Avon could also use a more defined commercial district, he says.”The idea of a pedestrian mall in the center of town has a lot of validity,” he says. “Could it become more like Vail Village and Lionshead, where you have a couple of different centers? I hope that could happen.”Neville says he supports building a gondola, though the financials still have to be worked out. He also wants to deal with fewer smaller issues.”I think something has to be done about the Hurd Lane intersection with Village Road,” he says. “It’s a nightmare to get in and out of there.”- Brian Sipes, 35, architect with Zehren & AssociatesInstead of scrambling for revenues during an economic slump, Avon should start planning for the future, says Councilman Brian Sipes, an Avon Planning and Zoning Commissioner before being appointed in June to fill the seat vacated by Rick Cuny.”We have a short-term problem that towns all over Colorado are having,” Sipes says. “We shouldn’t take drastic measures in the short term. We should look to the future five, 10, 15 years down the road to make Avon vibrant so we won’t have these peaks and valleys.”One way to invigorate the local economy is for the town’s leaders to have more contact with the town’s business owners, Sipes says.”The business community is willing to meet with the town and at least give them their opinions,” Sipes says.Commercial activity could also get a boost, Sipes says, if businesses in east and west Avon are linked to each other and to the new stores at the Village at Avon.”I’d like to see east Avon studied with the same scrutiny as west Avon, to tie them together,” Sipes says. “And we should engage the developer of the Village at Avon to be part of that, so the village is pulled into and made a part of the town, rather than becoming a whole separate town.”Sipes says he can play a bigger role in the town’s future on the Town Council than on the Planning and Zoning Commission.”Avon is at a crossroads, with the Village at Avon coming online and the few remaining parcels in the town center,” Sipes says. “The decisions made in the next four years will affect the next 50 years.”But the town has tons of potential, he says.”Avon is poised to be a really great place and have a strong retail core and a good quality of life for the people that live here,” he says.-Albert “Chico” Thuon, 36, fishing guide/ski instructorAvon could use a jolt of fresh ideas and youth among its leaders, says Albert “Chico” Thuon, who lives in Wildridge and is engaged to be married in September.”I just feel as though there perhaps needs to be some new, younger blood,” Thuon says. “The decisions that are made make me question the people who are running their town.”Avon has been allowed to grow too rapidly and haphazardly, Thuon says.”Some of the things that are on my mind are pedestrian issues and also the way the town is being developed,” Thuon says. “Maybe things need to be slowed down and looked at a little more closely.”Shoppers are sometimes scared away from Avon because there’s nowhere for people to walk, Thuon says.”One of the things I think about is creating some type of town mall so you don’t have to be afraid to get out of your car to go in the shops,” he says. “If you look at Edwards, Beaver Creek and Vail, they all have forethought and planning and they all have a “Main Street.'”Avon has no Main Street and the council members don’t seem like they have any idea what direction they want to go in,” Thuon says.Thuon says he’d also like to see sidewalks in Wildridge.”It’s zero pedestrian- and kid-friendly up here,” he says. “You drive up here and you see moms and kids walking and cars buzzing them at 40 mph an hour.”The town should also work with Vail Resorts to build a gondola from Avon to the slopes at Beaver Creek, he says.”I’m for a gondola and developing a center around the gondola,” Thuon says. “I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want a gondola. It’s sort of like shooting yourself in your foot. The quicker it gets done, the quicker the town can move.”- Ron Wolfe, 61, retired chemical engineer for Avon ProductsWhen a town’s growing, its leaders have to make sure the quality of life there isn’t ruined, says Ron Wolfe, currently a member of Avon’s Planning and Zoning Commission.”Avon is at a critical time,” Wolfe says. “We have the Village at Avon evolving – which will double the town’s size – we have the confluence site and questions of the gondola,” he says. “I want to provide better ways for people to live here, work here, play here and raise a family.”Wolfe says the town should build affordable housing for young professionals.”That’s not government’s definition of affordable housing, but we don’t want to lose that vibrant part of our community,” Wolfe says.A gondola from Avon to Beaver Creek would benefit the town, but it would benefit Vail Resorts a lot more, Wolfe says.”The gondola is a good thing,” he says. “But any kind of financial analysis would clearly have to say there’s almost no risk and that it would bring enough extra revenue to the town to warrant a bond issue.”The town may have given the developer of the Village at Avon too sweet a deal when the shopping center was given the go ahead in 1998, Wolfe says.”It seems like we made an awful lot of concessions. Maybe a better deal could’ve been struck,” Wolfe says. “As negotiations go on, maybe we can find other things, like day-care. Perhaps things like that should be discussed in the future.”The council could also do a better job of communicating and explaining issues to the public, he says.”I would certainly want to see – whether I’m on council or not – a greater prior notification of topics that are going to be discussed and a lot more in-depth discussions,” he says. “There are still things that are surprises that pop-up. People need time to chew on projects.”

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