Jen Barchers: Town core, town park and equitable decision making are my priorities |

Jen Barchers: Town core, town park and equitable decision making are my priorities

Jen Barchers
Dillon Town Council candidate
Jen Barchers

Occupation: Colorado Mountain College associate professor of humanities and social sciences

Years in Summit County: 15 full time

Family: Husband, Josh; fur baby, Moogley, adopted from Summit County Animal Shelter

Civic involvement: Summit Fire and EMS board vice president, Dillon Town Council member, Dillon Parks and Recreation committee

I’m Jen Barchers, and I have called Dillon home since 2007. I attended Summit middle and high schools in the 1990s and was fortunate to be able to return to Summit County with my husband after college. It has been an honor to serve my community on the Dillon Town Council, the Dillon Parks and Recreation Committee and as vice president of the Summit Fire and EMS board of directors. Prior to becoming a professor at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge and Dillon, I traveled the world as a flight attendant and enjoyed a job as a 911 dispatcher at the Summit County Communications Center. My work at Summit County 911 gave me a behind-the-scenes look at local public safety and relationships among the towns and the county, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the chance to grow, learn and give back to my community in a meaningful way through my service opportunities.

I’ve learned that it is important to be a realistic visionary when it comes to town of Dillon development and growth challenges. I, like most locals, imagine a thriving, walkable and beautiful town core, and we are getting much closer to that reality. Over the past couple of years, the current Town Council has pushed hard to speed up park and town core improvements. COVID did stall our progress, but not our vision and motivation. Therefore, my priorities are Dillon town focused. It is clear that issues such as housing, child care and overcrowding are certainly priorities for all Summit municipalities and the county, but I think the focus for the Dillon Town Council should remain on Dillon specific-issues and on finishing what we have started.

Priority No. 1: Town core walkability and vibrancy

We need to carry out our walkability plan to beautify the town core and make the area pedestrian friendly. Current plans include art installations, green spaces and benches, and I’d like to explore other unique and inviting ideas to make the core welcoming and dynamic. I envision multisensory experiences involving sound, light, touch and taste for people of all ages. Years of budgeting and planning are finally coming together with a motivated Town Council to make a revitalized Dillon town core a reality.

Priority No. 2: Finish town park renovation and marina renovations

Park infrastructure was installed last summer, and we just approved electrical and lighting designs, which contractors will complete this summer. Locals, including me, are really missing the ability to walk dogs, visit with neighbors, and play and relax outside!

Dillon also has a Marina Master Plan, and while we have completed part of the infrastructure renovations, we need to take action on updating the entire area with local desires, like walking trails and improved shoreline areas.

Priority No. 3: Balanced and equitable decision making with locals as drivers

Balancing the needs of businesses, visitors and locals is a constant challenge in our mountain communities. We are often asked to prioritize one group over another, but that can leave some groups feeling excluded. With every decision, I feel I must consider all perspectives, and I do think it’s imperative and appropriate to begin the conversation with local voices and ideals.

Among locals, there are opinions that should be considered even when their voices aren’t the loudest. We need to do a better job of embracing equitable decision-making practices and truly listening to ideas and opinions from younger workers, families and children, our Hispanic and diverse cultural communities, lower income residents, LGBTQ residents, people with differing levels of ability, people with differing political views, our elderly residents and all who call Dillon home. Visitors and businesses will naturally reap the benefits of an inclusive, welcoming and happy local community, so it makes sense to make locally driven, equity-based decisions a priority.

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