Frisco returns to the drawing board
FRISCO – While obviously disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s vote against negotiations with Home Depot, Frisco Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen will turn to the town council in January to figure out its next steps.Frisco residents voted 57 percent to 43 percent on Tuesday to not allow the town to begin negotiations with the big box hardware store. The town council will reconvene on Jan. 10 and, while the agenda has yet to be finalized, the council will be charged with exploring options for the 9.4-acre parcel at some point after the New Year.The council could call upon the Economic Development Advisory Committee, who reviewed this round of proposals and chose Home Depot as the one matching the town’s priorities. Other ideas Zurbriggen mentioned included a communitywide brainstorming session, with the intent on finding retail for the 9.4-acre parcel that solves the budget problems and has enough support to be passed by a vote.”It’s obvious that this process during the last 18 months didn’t work,” Zurbriggen said. “We need to answer the question of, ‘What would bring the community back together?'”While the town staff has said throughout the process it needs additional sales tax revenues to continue the same level of services and programs it currently offers, the forecast for when costs overrun revenue recently brightened. In previous explanations by the town on why the ballot question was needed, the year 2011 was used as the target year for when “the lines intersect.” Now, according to assistant town manager Theresa Casey, new data pushes that back to 2014.
Still, Casey said, the town has a financial problem that isn’t going away, and three years does not change the financial reality. A solution must be figured out, she said, and that means working to build a cohesive plan backed by a large majority of the community.Zurbriggen agreed, and said he took the vote personally. “This was a campaign of emotion versus presentation,” he said. “I think we do a fairly good job at communicating, but there is a big difference between education and understanding.”The mayor also said he felt personal attacks and threats – whether to local businesses or to local residents – set the town back on its goal for a community-backed solution to the 9.4-acre question. That said, opponents and proponents to the issue agreed on one thing after the “No” result was announced. Time is needed to heal wounds, and the town residents need to clarify how big – or small – they want town government to be. Without new revenue, Zurbriggen said, cuts will have to be made.Don Sather, a major opponent to the issue and owner of a hardware store in Silverthorne, said the vote has impacted the entire county. The Frisco Business Alliance, which first organized during the Home Depot debate, will likely expand throughout the county, he said.”Our mutual interests is something we’ll expand upon,” Sather said. “The town government has gotten too large. We’re a small resort community and that’s how people want it to stay. They don’t want us to be urbanized.”For now,” Sather continued, “I suspect everyone needs to sit back and enjoy the holidays. Come January, there will be more discussion.”
Chris Eby, one of the vocal leaders of the pro-Home Depot Friends of Frisco’s Future, echoed that “sit back” sentiment Tuesday night after the vote. Plus, he added, the opponents need to sit down with town leaders and put together answers on what needs cut from the budget.”I suppose one thing that’s been enlightening in this whole thing is that there’s a fair amount of distrust of the Frisco town government,” Eby said.Town leaders said they understood this, and that is why they want to review the entire process they just went through.”Government has a bad reputation,” Casey said. “But it’s really only a few people. We offer lots of opportunities to participate. This was just an emotional time with an emotional issue.”Three town council positions belonging to Gary Runkle, Rick Amico and Dan Fallon will be contested in the April elections.
One more grantThe town of Frisco recently received an $87,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the marina to help improve access to Dillon Reservoir for boaters.Frisco also celebrated its West Main Street improvement project Tuesday at the Frisco Town Hall. The town of Frisco received a $1 million federal grant to begin redevelopment of the area.- Duffy Hayes contributed to this story.Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13600, or at email@example.com
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