Opinion | Emily Wahl: Affordability and managing growth are top priorities | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Emily Wahl: Affordability and managing growth are top priorities

Emily Wahl
Breckenridge Town Council candidate
Emily Wahl
Courtesy photo
  • Occupation: Retired from technology industry
  • Years in Summit County: 7 as a full-time resident, 10 as second-home owner, 25 as a visitor
  • Family: Married with two children, a son in Summit County and a daughter and her family in Denver
  • Civic involvement: Summit County Arts Council vice president, Silverthorne Art Selection Committee, Women of Watercolor president, Women’s Business Exchange Club president, Fort Bend Education Foundation president, Leadership for Non-Profits program participant, Watercolor Art Society-Houston  board member, Leadership Houston program participant and working with multiple Summit County nonprofits

The definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others, the sharing of common attitudes, interests and goals. Community is what we are all about in Breckenridge. We are friendly, diverse, generous, and we seek to protect the unique character of our town. I am running for Breckenridge Town Council because I am passionate about this town, and I have the professional and nonprofit experience to serve and represent the interests of our residents. I am independent: I do not own a retail shop, restaurant, nonprofit, rental property or land. I am a flexible thinker with an open mind. My only agenda is to serve the residents of Breckenridge.  

As a first-generation Latino, raised in a family that struggled financially, I understand the obstacles facing working families: housing, affordable child care, health costs, transportation and trying to get ahead. 

Our challenges in Breckenridge touch on all of these: providing affordable living, child care and being proactive on managing our growth while preserving the historic character of our town. Here are some of my ideas in each of these areas:

Affordable living

Once we have a solid understanding of the types and quantity of housing needed (rentals, duplexes, condominiums, single-family) over a 5- to 7-year period, we should look at a variety of options and not seek a single solution. I would consider building microunits, shared living spaces, further leveraging the Housing Helps program, continuing our Buy Down program and working with developers and employers to contribute to the housing fund and/or make an equity contribution to workforce housing.

Child care

The town is in the process of looking at our current child care centers and trying to understand if there are opportunities to expand or reconfigure our centers. We need to learn if we have the ability to expand these centers and then plan accordingly. The lack of trained child care workers might be addressed through Colorado Mountain College programs. We also need to look at ways to provide attractive salaries and ways to increase our child care fund. Let’s consider incentives to have more in-home child care providers and address the wage issue of caregivers. 

Managing growth

The town has adopted a Climate Change Action Plan that we need to follow through on. This plan addresses our efforts to reduce our community’s carbon footprint, improve current recycling programs, usage and education as well as practice responsible tourism and citizenry with our environment.

In addition, I would like us to partner with hotel and lodging providers to encourage our visitors to be good environmental stewards while here. At check-in, guests would receive a Breckenridge reusable shopping bag, two reusable water bottles and a welcome note that describes our goals and invites to “Live Like a Local” by using our free transit system, shopping with the Breck reusable bag, drinking our water and properly disposing of recyclables.

How about thinking about our parking challenges as two tiers: needs of locals and needs of visitors? We could offer a parking pass for residents and those lodging in town to be used on peak demand days. Meanwhile, day visitors could be shuttled from an off-site parking lot to the main activity site. 

As a member of the Town Council, I will work on behalf of our entire community. I believe we are smarter when we share, stronger when we work together and more sympathetic when we listen. I have the time, energy and passion to devote to our community. 

Emily Wahl is one of nine candidates for four open seats on Breckenridge Town Council.

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