Opinion | Hal Vatcher: Housing, child care and traffic are Breck’s biggest issues
Breckenridge Town Council candidate
- Occupation: Retired following a career as an information technology executive
- Years in Summit County: 7 full-time following 30 as a visitor
- Family: Daughter and three grandchildren in Arizona
- Civic involvement: Town Council work session attendee, Police Advisory Committee member, Transit Committee member, Liquor and Marijuana Licensing Authority appointee, Lift Ticket Tax Initiative participant/promoter, Parking and Transit Task Force member, and Warrior’s Mark Association president
I am retired and a full-time resident of Breckenridge. I truly love our town! I have been a champion for the town since I moved here.
A good example is my current practice of using email and social media to forward important town information to all my local contacts. I feel residents should be better informed. This is one of my ways of helping accomplish that.
In addition, I am often seen volunteering for committees and town events. Some examples:
- Volunteering myself and my vintage Corvette to lead town-sponsored parades
- Delivering Santa in the Corvette to light the town holiday tree
Anything I can do to help our town.
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I am a totally unbiased and independent person. I don’t own any businesses or real estate (beyond my home). I come into the Breckenridge Town Council position with no “agenda” of my own.
I understand the importance of working with the public and presenting accurate information to our citizens.
I have the time necessary to effectively perform the role of a Town Council member.
My past efforts in support of our town should give everyone comfort that I am committed to supporting the best interests of our citizens and our town.
With my attendance for years at town council meetings, I am up to speed on town issues and am ready to hit the ground running.
In no particular order, I believe our current town priorities are workforce housing, child care (funding and space) and traffic congestion.
I’m proud of our town for taking the initiative years ago and beginning to address lower cost housing. Housing subsidies are a key element to having employees to support our town businesses. Without employees, we have no town! I’m pleased to see other county towns finally “stepping up” to do their share.
We need to continue to explore all opportunities to generate more affordable units. Some will come through new construction. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of time and money. I’m very excited about some recent initiatives like “buy downs” and Housing Helps. Early indicators are that the town can establish more affordable units at a quicker pace and at a lower cost (per unit) than building new. More effort needs to go into promoting such programs as they are a much quicker solution to getting more employees into affordable housing.
Like housing, our town has been a county leader in trying to deal with child care, both with facilities as well as family subsidies. Yet we still have so many families/kids on the waiting list! From recent discussions with county officials, it seems we cannot depend on the county to solve this gap.
Affordable child care is another key element to attracting and retaining reliable employees for our town. We need to become more active in finding (and funding) facilities (and staff) to address the child care issues. Perhaps we need to buy/lease space to open more child care facilities. We have done this in the past. Why not again?
I was quite surprised to hear that we do not have a funding source for child care (subsidies) beyond 2022. We are such an affluent town. Surely, we can allocate the appropriate funds without the need for additional taxes.
Council has been so focused on a new parking structure that it has lost track of the real issue: traffic congestion. Town-funded consultants told us that we should not build any additional parking in town until we have effectively addressed our traffic congestion issues.
While the structure is being built, we need to use the time to address some of the other consultant recommendations that can take cars off the road or relieve traffic flow such as:
- Roundabouts on Park Avenue.
- Better walkability down Ski Hill, 4 O’clock, and Village roads.
We paid these consultants a lot of money and (at least) initially agreed with most of their findings. Let’s take their advice!
Hal Vatcher is one of nine candidates for four open seats on Breckenridge Town Council.
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