Frisco halts negotiations with developer
FRISCO – The town council closed the door – but didn’t necessarily lock it – on the idea of a shopping center on the Meadow Creek parcel behind Wal-Mart and Safeway in Frisco.The council voted 6-0 to reject an agreement with Alberta Development Partners that would have allowed the developer exclusive rights to explore the site’s retail possibilities. Councilmember Rick Amico was not present for the vote. “This is a victory in the sense that we have more control over the fate of that site,” said Frisco resident Aleda Kresge, who lives near the parcel. “Now we can take a look at different options.”Kresge and a handful of other residents actively organized against the development in recent months under the banner of Frisco Open Space and Recreation for Generations. The group helped generate strong turnout in opposition to the development proposal at several public meetings.Alberta had proposed a 130,000-square-foot development with six junior-anchor national retailers, 20 units of affordable housing and a new Summit Stage building. The developer had estimated the development would generate about $1 million annually in sales tax revenue for the town.
“I urge you to terminate this contract,” said resident Gary Wilkinson. “It’s not exactly in keeping with the character of this town. National firms are Wall Street-driven, and they look for profits that will leave this community.”Don’t trot down this path chasing a million dollars in sales tax revenue,” Wilkinson added.The council will continue to lead a townwide discussion of the parcel’s future. A second town meeting about the site’s future is set for 6-8 p.m. Monday in the Frisco Recreation Building.The town ultimately must decide how to strike a balance between providing an acceptable level of service in a tourist-driven economy and obtaining the funds necessary to provide such services.”We need input from the entire community,” said Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen. “There are 2,800 citizens in this town, and so far we’ve heard from maybe 100 or 150.”There is a balancing act here. At some point, you have to increase the revenues or decrease the expenses to make the budget work,” Zurbriggen added.
On Tuesday afternoon, Zurbriggen announced a projected $400,000 budget shortfall for 2004. The town hopes to do a new round of belt-tightening to avoid dipping into the town’s reserves.Many citizens have suggested nonretail options for the 9.4 acres owned by the town.”We could have a CMC (Colorado Mountain College) campus on this spot,” said Tom Elvin. “We could have shared recreation facilities like ballfields. We could have a lively campus. It would be great to step back and create a vision, not just a compromise.”Others have proposed a recreation center, a multipurpose building with meeting space – the choice of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce – an ice rink, a performing arts center and a movie theater, among other ideas.In contrast, some citizens have floated the idea of scaling back on services and capital improvements.”Maybe it’s time we start cutting services,” said Mike McCraken. “Let’s cut waste, let’s cut services, let’s cut expenditures with consultants, let’s cut excessive benefits. And let’s start by cutting bait on this project.”
Prior to the Tuesday night’s vote, some council members expressed strong interest in including the site’s future in the master plan update process this year.”I believe that moving forward with the (agreement with Alberta) does put the cart before the horse,” said Councilmember Tom Looby. “We have a great opportunity with the master plan process to look at the site within the town as a whole.”We should continue to engage the community in a dialogue about options and get expertise through a contractor to look at economic costs and benefits. It would be helpful for the community to have good data,” Looby added.After the vote, Alberta’s Peter Cudlip said that he would be “more than willing to proceed” if the town ever makes a commitment to commercial development.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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