Councilman Willis hopes affordable housing will bring families to Frisco
summit daily news
FRISCO – To complete town projects – like Peak One parcel affordable housing and development of the Frisco peninsula, councilman Kent Willis wants to serve the town for another four-year term. He’s one of three candidates registered for three open council spots, so the Town of Frisco recently canceled its April election in favor of appointments.
“I really wanted to see those projects through and get those finished up,” Willis said.
Willis said he’s a big supporter of affordable housing, and the Peak One parcel project “adds a housing segment to the market that we don’t have, which is hopefully at the affordable level, so we can maintain families with kids in this town.”
When Willis moved to Frisco 27 years ago, he said the town was full of families.
“It was good to see everyone at school functions and around town,” he said. “I want that back, and families can’t really afford to live here.”
Willis, an attorney, raised four children – Meghan (28), Charles (25), Caroline (22) and John (19) with his wife Anna. All four kids are graduates of Summit High School.
“I really like Frisco,” he said. “It’s a nice little town with a lot of stuff going for it. I just want to continue to improve what we’ve got.”
Willis also said he has the time and flexibility it takes to be a truly engaged council member as indicated by his first term.
“Over the last four years, I’ve learned how to manage my time between work and council so I can devote a sufficient amount of time to council to get stuff done,” he said.
According to Willis, the top three issues for Frisco include: 1) Creating an affordable-housing segment (like the Peak One project and potentially others in the future); 2) Maintaining the tax base; and 3) Maintaining the character and desirability of Frisco “to have a town where families are part of a community, and to maintain Main Street as a focal point for merchants and tourists alike so they can enjoy the character that we have.”
“The town’s income comes from sales tax,” he added. “To maintain the level of services expected, we’ve got to make sure the tax base grows (as) costs associated with running the town keeps going up.”
With a down economy, Willis noted that town staff have already done a good job cutting out waste from the budget.
But, if Frisco’s real-estate transfer tax doesn’t bounce back to 2006-8 levels, he suggested “beautification of Summit Boulevard” and improved pedestrian access from Main Street as ways to increase town funds.
“Revenues are a more difficult problem because it really means we need to develop our commercial space along Main Street at Summit Boulevard in order to increase sales tax,” he said. “A lot our bed-base in hotels is out by the interstate, and we need to try to encourage those people to come into the rest of town.”
Willis isn’t sure about using an urban renewal authority to do this however – “I thought about an urban renewal district, but it’s really just preliminary thoughts at this time. We’re not sure what the benefits to the town would be.”
Willis maintains that communication with the Frisco community is important to making town improvements too.
“Over the last four years, it’s interesting to hear the wide diversity of opinions (within the community),” he said. “Much like the council, it’s important to develop consensus and agreement in divergent opinions.”
Willis strives to find a common ground with his fellow council members.
“I think as a council member, you need to work hard to build a good relationship with rest of council, and figure out how to come to a consensus if possible on decisions instead of becoming adversaries,” he said. “It’s better to cooperate.”
Willis added that he has lots of respect for the hard work of the town staff – “They’re the ones that make things happen,” he said.
When he’s not serving on council, Willis is a board member with the Summit Stage (he’s currently chair) and he belongs to the Breckenridge Rotary Club. He also likes to mountain bike and he skis with the Summit County Special Olympics team.
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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