Candidates forum set for Wednesday | SteamboatToday.com

Candidates forum set for Wednesday

Nick Foster

Hayden residents will be able to choose from four people to fill three seats on the Hayden Town Board in the April 6 municipal election.

In the meantime, to help residents choose their candidates, a public forum and debate mediated by Mark Fischer will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hayden Town Hall.

Mayor Chuck Grobe is running uncontested, but four trustee candidates are vying for the three vacant seats. The candidates are incumbents Ken Gibbon, Richard “Festus” Hagins and Lorraine Johnson, and Hayden Recreation Board member Richard Bush.

Gibbon said he wanted to take a break from his 10 consecutive years on the board but said, “Growth is what’s making me run again.”

“I wasn’t going to run at all,” Gibbon said. “But I got phone calls from friends and all over about the growth issues. This election, to me, is a referendum on how you want Hayden to grow. If you want to continue slow, managed growth as written in the master plan, vote for me. If you want to double the size of town quickly, don’t vote for me.”

Gibbon said he sided with the two Planning Commission members who voted against an annexation petition two weeks ago, and he wants Hayden to expand into its own borders before extending them, as the town’s master plan dictates.

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Gibbon supports increasing recreational opportunities and proposed designating a dog park at the last Town Board meeting. However, he wants to achieve new opportunities through frugal spending. He said he wants the town to spend as conservatively as possible.

Bush also is in favor of recreational opportunities. He proposed, built and maintained a cross country ski trail in town this winter. He also advocates getting a much-discussed trail system, saying that it is worth pursuing not only for recreational opportunities but also as an alternate means of transportation from one side of town to the next.

When looking at the growth, Bush says the town should avoid being hasty.

“This big development has been in the works for almost two years, and I think the town feels pressured to go forward,” Bush said. “In my eyes, I say let’s let it drag out even further to make sure it all happens the way we want it to happen.

“I really want to look at this (CommunityViz) planning model and get that to work before anything major goes on. I think that would be an unbelievable tool, I wouldn’t jump forward without looking at that first.”

If elected to the Town Board, Bush said he wants to improve communication with the Hayden School Board.

Johnson is seeking a second consecutive four-year term also as a proponent of slow, managed growth. However, she said, “We’ve got to start somewhere.”

“(West Routt Properties developers) have only applied for the application of an annexation,” Johnson said. “Until an impact study comes back and starts answering questions, we won’t know the impact. It’s something we’ve got to at least look at.”

Johnson said her main goal as a trustee is to promote a commercial and residential balance that allows Hayden to circulate its dollars, plug economic “leakage” and create jobs. And to do that, she said some growth is essential.

“If we don’t become somewhat sustainable in our town and are dependent of the rest of the valley, Hayden will go away,” Johnson said. “I will have to go someplace else to find a job.”

Johnson says she thinks Hayden has more recreation now than what most people give the town credit for, and it has “quality and quantity recreation opportunities.” Also, she said the town is “doing a good job at managing the money.”

Hagins, who has served one term as mayor and two terms as a trustee, said he thinks the town should more consistently and aggressively seek spending supplementation from the state’s Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program.

“We should be pursuing those (grants) every cycle because we’re affected heavily by the energy business. You can watch the coal trucks going up and down town all day,” Hagins said. Though the town has received several of these grants, Hagins said the town should seek more grants, more aggressively.

With Energy Impact, the town is working on several projects, such as replacing old water and sewer lines and soon beginning to build a soccer field for the first phase of a multi-sport facility called Dry Creek Park. Hagins said the town should continue its time and spending along these same lines to further improve. He also said he hopes to continue the town’s prosperous trend of attracting Triple Crown sports.

Like most others on the current Town Board, Hagins sees growth as inevitable, but he wants to “keep it in check.”

“I don’t want to burn the citizens we have in town right now,” Hagins said. “If we annex now, the developer needs to work with town, schools and (the) fire department to set off some costs.

“One concern is water, but that’s in our ordinances. We have to prove they’ve got the water before we can approve anything.”