Frisco Town Council candidates answer community questions at forum
Housing and infrastructure a focus of discussion
Frisco Town Council candidates gathered at 10 Mile Music Hall Thursday, March 10, to speak on local issues. Voters have seven choices to fill three Town Council seats in the upcoming election.
Running are property manager James Hayes Walsh; Next Page Books & Nosh co-owner Lisa Holenko; technology consulting business owner David Rolling; food and beverage retail manager at Basecamp Wine & Spirits, Outer Range Brewing Co. and Birdcraft Joe “Buck” Phillips; Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters owner Elizabeth Skrzypczak-Adrian; Siemens engineer and handyman service owner John Hammett; and incumbent Andy Held, who owns an outdoor and cycling industry sales agency.
What is the biggest challenge the town faces in your view, and how would you address that challenge if elected?
Phillips, Walsh, Holenko, Rolling and Skrzypczak-Adrian all said that affordable housing and supporting employees are major concerns.
“Skip the affordability part — just finding anything is like a miracle these days,” Skrzypczak-Adrian said.
Walsh would like the issues to appear on the ballot, and Holenko mentioned working on more short-term, immediate goals in addition to larger housing projects. Rolling added that adequate child care for all is an issue, as well.
Skrzypczak-Adrian mentioned that she also sees a disconnect in the demographics of the community and wants people to share more ideas.
Held said that wildfires are the biggest threat and that the town’s biggest challenge is funding for all the various projects.
“There’s only so much money to go around,” Held said. “There’s a lot to be done with the budget that’s there.”
To handle those projects, Hammett said hiring a new town manager is the biggest decision Town Council will have to make this year. He said managers drive the town, and he would take the vetting process very seriously.
Do you see any opportunities to improve quality, core services? What, if any, infrastructure issues do you believe will need to be addressed in the near future?
Hammett said he wants to invest in human infrastructure via a volunteer ambassador program. The volunteers could guide people and teach them about local practices, thereby keeping the town clean and improving its image.
“We’ve got the buses, we’ve got public transit, we’ve got the roads taken care of — we can do a better job in all of these areas — but I just don’t see the participation of the community coming out and making this place the wonderful place it is,” Hammett said.
Walsh disagreed that public transportation was good, and he wants to expand options by bringing back the Frisco Flyer shuttle. He also would like to see a parking garage by Exit 201 to help deal with Frisco’s growth.
“While circulating the Frisco housing petition and listening to people’s feedback, one thing became clear: There’s never going to be less people coming to Summit County, coming to Frisco,” Walsh said.
Holenko, Phillips, Skrzypczak-Adrian and Rolling all said improving parking and public transportation, such as better bike paths or buses, are top priorities. Rolling added that he would invest in broadband, saying with the rise of remote workers that it would increase full-time residency and reclaim local culture.
In addition to parking, Skrzypczak-Adrian would like to see more amenities at parks, such a free basketball court or improved volleyball courts.
Held said he would like improvements to Granite and Galena streets built, and possibly a bridge or tunnel across Summit Boulevard constructed to allow for safer pedestrian access.
If the town received a $5 million grant and you could decide how to use it, what would you do with it and why?
Held pointed out that grants don’t work that way as they are tied to specific spending, but he said he would use it for workforce housing, or maybe other infrastructure items like the aforementioned bridge or transportation.
Similarly, Phillips said he would leverage it for a matching grant in federal funding for affordable housing, and Skrzypczak-Adrian suggested housing or rebuilding Town Hall to make the space more efficient with a parking structure or child care facility. Skrzypczak-Adrian also mentioned the possibility of a housing voucher to assist single parents.
Holenko would put the money toward opening a child care facility to deal with the growing wait list. She said it would help parents balance between work and day care.
“Gandhi said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable, and our children are the most vulnerable in our society,” Holenko said. “If we’re not taking care of them, we’re not taking care of our society.”
Walsh would take the choice to the ballot for the public to decide, and maybe conduct a survey to narrow options to fields like public transportation, mental health services, child care or just give each community member their share.
Hammett said he liked the idea of giving the money back to residents, but he said he would also use it to improve public transportation to neighboring communities, such as Fairplay, to jointly tackle the problem of affordable housing.
Rolling thought if the town received a surprise grant, he would use it for something new like senior housing rather than fund an existing plan. Rolling told the audience about how he wanted to move his father-in-law to the area but couldn’t.
“There is no facility in Frisco. There is no facility in Summit,” Rolling said. “I think the closest one is … in Eagle.”
One audience member asked whether short-term rental regulations should have preferential treatment for locals or second-home owners who mostly live in Frisco, instead of people buying homes purely for investment, such as a property tax deferral or a discount for seniors. Additionally, the audience member asked if there should be a cap on short-term rental licenses.
Walsh wasn’t in favor of a cap but would consider it. He said he would implement whatever short-term rental program the public thinks is best and mentioned that one idea he heard was to regulate based on the number of homes owned.
Skrzypczak-Adrian was in favor of preferential treatment but said she would need data on a cap to see what is necessary. Hammett said a cap was government overreach but that he would like to see short-term rental owners incentivized to convert to long-term rentals.
Held said he would probably be against a cap and preferential treatment but said short-term rentals should be taxed like a business. He added that the town is subsidizing short-term rentals into long-term rentals.
Rolling liked the idea of the cap and preferential treatment. He said it would be great, especially for teachers or town employees, who could use the extra income to supplement their cost of living.
Holenko is in favor of a cap, as well as preferential treatment for locals, but she said it would be hard to monitor residency status. Phillips said “yes” to both the cap and deferral.
“I have friends who have parents who have a home up here,” Phillips said. “They come up the majority of the year, and to offer them preferential treatment as senior citizens and potentially offer them some sort of tax break I think is worth it because they’re not looking to turn a huge profit. … They’re buying it because this is where they want to be for part or the majority of the year.”
Ballots will be mailed this week, and they must be received by the town clerk’s office by 7 p.m. April 5. Visit SummitDaily.com/election to view the whole forum.
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