Big box is wrong, but if it’s to be, don’t design it to be a focal point
Governmental Expansionists 1, Bleeding Heart Liberals 0. That was the result of the 9.4-acre parcel debate on Tuesday night at the Frisco Town Council meeting. More realistically, it was a net loss for everyone in the long run.Sustainable growth it was not. Maintaining the small-town status quo it was not.Listening to the voice of the people it was most definitely not. It was a headlong rush to a preordained decision regardless of any public input, whether that input had merit or not. After three and a half hours LISTENING to the many points of view, it was obvious to me that neither of the options presented at the meeting – basically Colorado Mountain College versus retail – had the correct combination of factors: viable, desirable, sustainable, profitable, marketable, serviceable. So, why did the elected representatives of the people, vote to back the town employees, without at least respecting the unarguable wishes of their electorate and exploring some other options.If we are going to go ahead with the retail proposal regardless of public opinion, then we shouldn’t hide it as being something that it is not. It is an attempt to bring in national big-box retailers to increase sales tax revenues so that the town and council does not have to increase property and/or sales taxes, because, for whatever their reasons, they do not want to consider revising the capital projects already on the books, or sacrifice any salaries or jobs at town hall.Let there be no doubt, this will have a major impact on Main Street and other local businesses.The staff and council want to take the easy option, and generate another temporary income blip like was done by Wal-Mart in the mid-1990s.Unfortunately, they are being extremely short-sighted about the effects down the road. They are basing their decision on generating about $50 million in what they determine to be a bright retail future as their developer friends see it – but they base the fact that they need this development on a gloomy overall outlook for retail sales tax revenue generation. Which is it. It can’t be both.If they do go the retail route, it should be exactly what we are really talking about – a big box. Forget the sentimentalism. Don’t create a new town center to compete with Main Street.Do not make a beautified, visitor-friendly shopping center that will just create two town centers vying for business and funding. Don’t pretend it’s something it’s not. Build the big box and forget about environmentalism and aesthetics. Go for the big box if you think that there is not enough creativity and knowledge in this town to generate the sales tax revenues needed by other means. Go for the big box if you think the will to increase sales or property taxation is not there. Go for the big box if you think that Frisco residents don’t have the will to trim some capital projects during some tough years. But … I have never seen any Frisco marketing that was not focused on Main Street, the marina, or a view of the mountains surrounding us.When was the last time you saw a postcard featuring Frisco Station replete with Wal-Mart and Safeway?Why, are we not focused on developing what we already have? Why do we not admit that we neither are, nor want to be, Dilverthorne (thanks Scott Bullock)? Why try? As was said at the meeting, we cannot compete in that market, we are “land poor.”
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