Home Depot ensures investment in town infrastructure
RE: No to Home Depot (SDN Sept. 23)I would like to contrast the opinions offered by Alex Miller. I, like Mr. Miller, am neither an expert nor professional consultant, just a longtime Frisco resident, Main Street business and property owner and current council member.As long as I have lived here, Frisco has been most clearly defined by its unique Main Street, phenomenal mountain and lakeside setting, wonderful recreational opportunities and its generous, warm and open local community of diverse businesses and residents. I see this dynamic operating positively on the culture and design of Home Depot as opposed to that of an “insidious” Home Depot displacing businesses, threatening our well-entrenched positive values or menacing the hard earned quality of life we enjoy here. In fact, what is seen is that people do respond positively to a higher level of customer service. This should not be news to anyone who has made a living here in this highly competitive retail sector for any length of time.If a Home Depot passes in December, potentially affected business will have at least a year to assess the type of commodities and services they offer and the level at which they provide them.Just like any business that has been faced with the uncertainty of new competition, they must analyze their businesses critically and objectively and find a way to compete in the new market. Restaurant owners here have been doing it for years. What you find are new niches being exploited and a wider array of experiences being offered. I do not believe this is the “zero sum scenario” that some direly predict, and I expect the community as a whole would be the beneficiary of the increased competition. Home Depot representatives have done their homework in terms of the market that this outlet will serve and they are willing to spend millions to back it up. It is true that we are approaching buildout in our community, but the population in and around the rest of Summit County is deceptively large now and is projected to grow steadily for the next decades. There is also tremendous potential here for redevelopment due to the age and unsuitability of many of the existing commercial structures and maintenance on the many homes, both new and old. Don Sather’s proposed Ace Solutions store is certainly a testament to his confidence in this market.Don Sather’s commitment to this community, like all the others in this community who have given unselfishly of their time and resources, is certainly appreciated and in the meetings I attended was certainly considered. However, he was obligated to deliver a complete proposal and he did not. Home Depot is currently asking for no concessions from the town, as some have suggested. In its current incarnation, it includes a 30-foot buffer around the existing identified wetlands. Don Sather’s proposal required significant concessions on behalf of the town as well as mitigation of the wetlands. Beyond his Ace Solutions store, we can only speculate as to what tenants would populate his project, what type of corporate conscience they might represent and what competition they would render to existing merchants. To the degree that dollars will have to be spent on infrastructure to alleviate traffic pressure, Home Depot acknowledged they would have to spend it, while Don Sather was reluctant to make a commitment. In stark contrast to Wal-Mart, Home Depot has indicated their unilateral commitment to make substantial real dollar and in-kind contributions to the community, over and above the sale price paid and potential sales tax revenues generated, (and in a substantially far greater amount than anything promised by Mr. Sather’s group). Mr. Miller’s statement that “we can expect little in return besides sales tax revenue and a few token chips thrown in up front in exchange for big concessions from the town” is absurd and completely without merit. The conversation about funding town programs, services and amenities is too important and involved to tritely offer that “town officials need to be more creative” and then draw a nonsensical comparison to a heavily populated and developed metropolitan area that does not now have, and never will have, any similarity on any scale to our own. There are no other parcels in Frisco of this size that would be considered for this type of commercial development. It is already directly appurtenant to hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, hotels and gas stations. It is not, then, unreasonable to explore the potential for retail on this site, compare the sales tax derivative of proposed projects and then consider that as one of the criteria by which a specific project is identified. It was not the only criteria upon which my decision was based. As a council member, I supported referring this project to the ballot because I felt that it has the most upside of the retail packages we examined, all things considered. Augmentation of the sales tax component of the town’s revenue stream through retail development of this site, whether as a result of this referred project or some other if this fails, will be critical to help manage future financial shortfalls without excessive budget cuts. It can and should happen concurrently with the evolution and implementation of other diverse economic strategies. This will help to ensure that a sound level of investment in town infrastructure, services, amenities, historical culture, open space, marketing and reserves will continue well into the future.Editor’s Note: The opinions offered here are Dan Fallon’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the other council members.
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