Opinion | Dick Carleton: Maintaining quality of life, community character a priority
Breckenridge Town Council candidate
- Occupation: Own and operate Mi Casa (38 years) and the Hearthstone (30 years) restaurants with my business partner
- Years in Summit County: 40
- Family: Wife, Cathy (26+ years). Kids: Starke, 19, and Milly and Zach, 16
- Civic involvement: Served on the boards of the Breckenridge Tourism Office, The Summit Foundation, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Summit Prevention Alliance and Summit Youth Hockey as well as numerous organizations and committees at the Summit middle and high schools. One of the founders of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association 23 years ago. Appointed to The Peak 6 Expansion work group to study social impacts with the town, ski area and U.S. Forest Service and have served on the Breckenridge Marketing Advisory Committee, Breckenridge Events Committee, Police Advisory Committee, Childcare Advisory Committee and Breckenridge Town Council.
After serving two years on Breckenridge Town Council, I realize just how incredibly important the work is. The decisions we are asked to make, both small and large, have an enormous impact on the lives of all of us living in Breckenridge. To make these decisions well, council members need to have a deep understanding of our community and what makes it unique, have a varied skill set and be capable of wearing many hats in doing the work we are asked to do. I have worked with and observed many strong and talented leaders over the 40 years I have lived and run a business here. I have watched them navigate a lot of change, most of which has been well-executed and good for the town in the long run. Change will not stop. It is imperative our council has the experience, thoughtfulness and patience to guide us through the next four years.
Maintain community character
My top priority has been and continues to be to maintain our community character and quality of life for all the residents of Breckenridge. We have made progress in the last two years, but there is a lot of work still to be done. Let me share some of the things I am excited to continue working on. It is imperative we carefully select and manage our events, keep development and building codes current and appropriate as we approach build out, make the correct and necessary investments in infrastructure, and annually evaluate where we need to focus our attention next. Those sitting on Town Council must be willing to make the extremely difficult decisions to ensure all growth is sustainable and that town can handle it while respecting property rights. We have to get it right! To maintain our town’s character, we must support our workforce and young families through our child care assistance programs and workforce housing programs allowing all of us to make our homes in the Upper Blue Basin. To deal with our growing congestion in town, we must make the right investments in parking and transit and encourage locals and guests to use alternate forms of transportation. We have amazing facilities and opportunities in the arts and must continue to support the arts of all kinds and have an open approach to seeing them grow and flourish. Open space and trails are a priority for continued investment at a gold standard level for our locals. These are the things we must fiercely protect and continue working extremely hard on to ensure Breckenridge maintains its unique character.
Achieve renewable goals
My next priority is to achieve the town and community’s 100% renewable goals and encourage other towns to do the same. In the last couple years, the town of Breckenridge has really made this a focus and started making progress with the funding of the sustainability director position and hiring Jesse Burley. She has helped guide council in our determination to do our part in solving this global problem. In the last couple of years, we have executed a 3.6 megawatt solar garden subscription and an 800 kW solar garden, purchased two electric buses through grant funding and ordered three more also with grant funding, built two 500 kW solar gardens in Breckenridge, increased incentives and met every year’s goals for Energy Smart Colorado (residential energy efficiency program), increased incentives and met every year’s goals for Resource Wise (sustainable business program), adopted 2018 International Energy Conservation Code with consideration of Zero Energy Ready Homes and much more. We will host Mountain Towns 2030 in the fall to showcase what we have accomplished and to exchange best practices with many mountain towns all over the West. There is still so much more for us to do, and I look forward to advancing this important work.
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Improve community communication
My third priority is to do a better job of communicating with our community around community challenges, upcoming critical decisions and community opportunities. Too often, our citizens show up to participate in important decisions and to give input after we have been working on projects for years and already made a number of decisions along the way. I understand how frustrating this is for our community members and am determined to find a way to get all interested community members engaged far earlier so we can get their valuable input.
Dick Carleton is one of nine candidates for four open seats on Breckenridge Town Council.
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