Q&A with Silverthorne mayoral candidate Ann-Marie Sandquist
Silverthorne mayoral candidate
How do you feel about the revitalization of the downtown core and the increasing development in town?
I am excited about it! The community, Silverthorne Town Council, and town staff spent many years laying the foundation for the revitalization of our downtown. Our downtown had some truly blighted conditions, and to now be in a position where we have an identifiable downtown area is something the community has asked for. The town’s 2011 community survey identified the development of the downtown core and economic development as the two biggest issues facing the community, and I feel that we’ve really made strides in those areas.
Silverthorne has always had a strong community, but our town itself needed some investment so that we could all gather here as a community. It has been quite a process and frankly was jump-started by the opportunity that our Economic Development Committee brought us to partner with and re-home the Lake Dillon Theatre Co. in Silverthorne. We are so happy with our partnership; its vision has been a catalyst for more change. Now we have terrific new restaurants, hotels, gathering spaces and a parking garage. I have met many new residents who have moved here because of our revitalization, and it makes me really happy that people are excited to live in Silverthorne.
How much of a priority for you is providing additional child care in the community?
I consider this an absolute priority as the child care needs in our community far outweigh our current options. In 2021, the town entered into a partnership agreement with the county to build a child care center in the Smith Ranch neighborhood. The town agreed to provide the land for the center, coordinate the planning and construction for the building, and commit $1 million in fundraising, plus an annual subsidy of about $125,000 to run the center. The construction costs have increased significantly in the past year, and so the town and the county will be meeting at a joint session in a few weeks to discuss the additional costs and how best to fund them. My feeling is that we need to move ahead despite the additional costs.
Do you support the lodging tax increase on the local ballot?
Yes. Silverthorne does not have a property tax, and we are one of 10 municipalities in Colorado (out of 271) without one. Because Silverthorne is mostly reliant on sales tax, we are conservative in our budgeting process as we prioritize maintenance of our current capital assets before adding additional assets. So we budget and save for future capital projects that are desired by our community (rec center expansion at $14 million, transportation improvements at $13 million, pedestrian Improvements at $5.5 million, etc.). In 2018, the town floated the idea among residents to support a 7-mill property tax to fund some of these projects, and this was not supported, with over 50% of residents stating it would be a financial burden.
The current lodging tax in Silverthorne is 2%, which is far lower than the national average of 13.5% as well as being on the low end of the scale in Colorado. Increasing the lodging tax to 6% would provide a funding stream for these projects. Our visitors take advantage of the amenities that we have — whether it be parks, trails, the rec center, etc. — and this funding would make sure those amenities are in good shape for locals and visitors.
Do you support using local money to fund Exit 205 improvements?
Absolutely. Colorado Highway 9, Interstate 70 and Exit 205 have a significant impact on our community and unfortunately not one that the town can control. Summit County is the fifth most visited county in the country, and Exit 205 is the busiest interchange west of the tunnel. 70% of the traffic through our community is considered pass through, meaning this is not local traffic but traffic trying to go through Silverthorne to get to another destination. Which, as we all know, makes trying to get around our town tough on local residents, especially on weekends and holidays.
The latest study that was done by the Colorado Department of Transportation was completed in 2012 and needs to be updated. We have been pushing CDOT to update the study (we cannot just hire an engineer to update it; this must be approved by CDOT), we have set aside funding to update the study, and we have also hired a lobbying firm to identify federal funding opportunities to help ease the $23 million burden that reconstructing the interchange will cost. We continue to push Gov. Jared Polis and CDOT leadership to address our interchange.
What involvement do you think the town should have in supporting those who will be displaced from two mobile home parks?
First, I want to dispel some rumors regarding the town’s involvement:
- The town is not in any partnership with the developer.
- The developer does not work for the town or on the town’s behalf.
- The town is not advocating for this specific development, and the town does not want to see our residents displaced.
- The town has never owned this property.
- The town is obligated to review the submitted land-use application before it and abide by our land-use codes.
With that said, the town has worked to facilitate communications between the developer and the residents and has brought the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and Summit Combined Housing Authority into these discussions. Although this is a private land transaction, the developer has publicly stated that they have a strong moral obligation to provide financial assistance to residents who will be displaced because of the proposed redevelopment. It is my understanding that the developer and the residents and their attorney are close to completing an agreement on that compensation package. The town has been in a position of doing what we can to facilitate communications while at the same time making sure to meet our legally required role in the land-use process.
Ann-Marie Sandquist is an incumbent candidate running unopposed for Silverthorne mayor.
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