Opinion | Susan Knopf: The pot is simmering in Dillon
For the Record
The pot boiled over a couple of times. And the pot has been simmering pretty hot on the back burner waiting for this moment in time. Monday, Jan. 24, is the deadline to file for the Dillon Town Council election.
For the record, Summit County municipal elections are April 5. And there are quite a few seats up for grabs. But Dillon is particularly interesting because there has been no contested Town Council election since 2014, according to Town Clerk Adrienne Stuckey.
Several Town Council seats were appointed because nobody ran! That doesn’t look like the case in 2022. It looks like all township seats that are in play will be contested, and the stakes are high.
I’m not talking about the $500 per month a council person will get paid. The mayor will get $1,000. It’s the issues:
- Walk-up marijuana sales windows
- Ice Castles contract
- Short-term rental rules
- How many trees should be cut down to build a new park?
- A proposal to pave the lakeshore to accommodate more tourist paddleboard rentals
- A proposal to turn free parking into paid parking
If you are a registered voter in the town of Dillon, and you like the way Dillon is being run, you should vote for incumbents: Mayor Carolyn Skowyra and council members Jen Barchers and Renee Imamura.
If you agree Dillon Town Council hasn’t been listening to residents, then you’ll want to consider voting for local challengers Dana Christiansen and Tony Scalise.
Both candidates offered similar assessments on town government:
Christiansen said residents first formed a neighborhood coalition. When that didn’t get Dillon town leaders’ attention, some Dillon stakeholders “decided it would be better if we were on the Town Council.”
Scalise said, “I think the townspeople deserve a bigger voice.”
The way Scalise sees it, and I’ve heard this before from other Dillon residents, the current Dillon Town Council seems to have its priorities upside down. Scalise says it looks like the Town Council has tourists No. 1, business second and residents third.
Scalise said, “There are ways to compromise.” He identified three main issues:
- Residents feel they don’t have a big enough voice
- Short-term rentals
- Business development
Scalise says he’s for property rights. He said some residents would like to see no short-term rentals but admitted that’s unrealistic. He repeated the need for compromise.
Christiansen and Scalise agree about the first issue: The town has to balance the priorities and do a better job listening to taxpaying residents.
Both Scalise and Christiansen favor the development of a downtown corridor. Christiansen envisions a “European-style village in the center of downtown Dillon” that is a hub of activity with restaurants, shops and things to do.
Scalise said the Town Council needs to “drill down deeper on issues and be fiscally responsible.”
Scalise and Christiansen both agree Ice Castles was not a good fit for Dillon for a variety of reasons. Both agree the best way to find the win-win that benefits residents, business and draws tourists in a positive and productive way is to rethink the plan and listen better to citizens.
Christiansen is a second generation Dillon property owner. Both he and his mom served on the Parks and Recreation Committee. He’s lived here full time since 2007. His kids went to Summit High School, and he worked on Keystone Resort’s ski patrol for two years. He’s a retired aerospace engineer.
Scalise has lived here full time since 2020. He’s owned his Dillon home for 10 years. When I talked to him, he was busy refacing his fireplace with stone. He’s worked for corporate America, and he’s been a small-business owner.
Mark Cribett is a local attorney who is also running for a Town Council seat. He is a registered Libertarian. He declined to comment for this column.
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at email@example.com.
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