Mayoral candidates respond to questions regarding their views on the future of Berthoud

The following response is from Will Karspeck:

1. Why are you running for town trustee/mayor? I have the desire and the ability to listen and communicate with opposing groups, and I want to utilize that to better our town. I believe as a board we need to take time to step back and look at the various issues and desires residents have. I think improvements in our basic infrastructure are key to citizens gaining confidence in local government. To me we need to focus on creating a more aggressive plan for road and sidewalk improvements. Re-establishing relationships with local farmers and brainstorming ways to keep their agricultural lands viable. There are a lot of local ditches that we can partner on to create ditch trails, but we need to come to the table with landowners in the county with an attitude of respect and a desire to collaborate. 

As a board member, and especially as mayor, it is crucial to ensure both sides of an issue are being heard. I am running for mayor because I believe we need to place more emphasis on public input and volunteerism. Our volunteer committees have great ideas, but they need to have an increased access to the board. I believe we also need more committees, such as an emergency services committee, which create a space for the Town of Berthoud to enter into a continuing conversation with our fire authority and our EMS service. The more effective the dialogue, the more we will accomplish in the upcoming years. 

-I see the variety of desires and frustrations with the town, and we need to work to address as many of these as we can.

-We need to allow our committees to do the jobs they were appointed to do, then consider their recommendations as a board. 

-We have a need for more committees, including; emergency services committee and a local government committee (representatives from school district, fire district and library district)

-This will require an attitude that is open to new ideas and is willing to enter into new conversations. 

2. What do you believe the role of a trustee should be? I agree with Edmund Burke’s definition of a trustee – a representative who exercises personal judgement and doesn’t just follow the perceived opinion of a constituency. In short, I don’t believe in a vocal minority or a silent majority because there is no way to verify this. The role of trustee is to prevent the tragedy of the commons and be responsive and responsible to every area of Berthoud. Legitimate empathy is a very helpful tool when talking with residents. 

In Berthoud, a sole trustee, which includes the mayor, has no authority. A trustee’s role includes preparing for upcoming meetings by reading the provided materials well ahead of the meeting, as well as doing outside research and asking questions of staff if you do not understand something. Getting involved as much as possible in regional workshops and then bringing those ideas back to town. Trustees also serve as a town representative in regional meetings, and as a liaison to official town committees and commissions. 

3. What do you believe are the three most important issues facing Berthoud? Ensuring that our current quality of life is maintained as we growThere are numerous developments with thousands of approved units that have been backed up for decades due to the recession. Going forward we really need to take an overall look at what we want Berthoud to look like. Our comprehensive plan was last updated in 2014 and will need to be updated again in 2019. This is a perfect time to assess where we are and to provide the town with direction going forward for the next five years. This will involve a citizen advisory committee of some sort. 

Intergovernmental collaboration. We need to begin discussions with our school, fire and library districts in order to assess how we can expand our services and assist one another with funding and providing resources. Our other local governments are more exposed to the Gallagher Amendment than the town, and thus are more exposed to having a mandated decrease in assessed property value for taxation. It is of little use to only consider the needs of the Town of Berthoud government and compete for tax increases when we could work together instead. For example, we used to impose a school impact fee on behalf of R2-J on new construction. I think that is really worth looking into as our schools are reaching capacity. 

Ensuring we balance growth with open-land preservation .A former trustee once told me without growth you really wouldn’t need an open-space preservation program. Our government has a sales-tax percentage that is allocated for the preservation of open lands. As with all funds, we need to provide oversight and ensure this funding is used for the intended purpose. We made $87,000 in funding through agricultural leases in 2017. That may not seem like a lot for the few agricultural properties the town owns, but consider that we did not have to provide these areas with any service. Government ownership of agricultural lands is really a good source of alternative revenue, and these lands provide numerous intangible benefits as well. There are also many properties we simply cannot purchase, especially in Weld County where we cannot use our Larimer County open-space funds. We need to work with those farmers and listen to what their needs are if we are really going to hold on to that way of life. 

4. What is your vision for downtown Berthoud? Downtown Berthoud will always be the heart of the community for me. Our Main Street Program is beginning to crumble and, unfortunately, there was never a proper ongoing funding mechanism to ensure main street enhancements. I imagine downtown Berthoud as a place you want to walk and bike to. A place packed with greenery and is worthy of the “Garden Spot of Colorado” title. I see all of our historic buildings being protected and new buildings created that have maintained the old town architecture. Really a place where people can live work and play. 

5. How can the town improve recreational opportunities?  We can improve recreational opportunities by allowing the PORT committee to finalize its prioritization of amenities. It is also very important to keep in mind Berthoud has grown a lot since the PORT results were returned. It will be important for the board to keep our mind open to new opportunities and suggestions, and remember our role as trustees is to ensure that expansion in recreational amenities is proportional to expansion in other services. While on this topic, I really am taking to heart that more opportunities need to be ADA compliant going forward. I took a class on just this topic, and while riding around in a wheelchair on trails in Boulder and really understanding the frustration that nothing was designed with a wheelchair in mind, it became very apparent we need to design opportunities for residents with all abilities. 

The board will also need to keep in mind our regional plans. We have a long-term statewide plan for trail connections to Loveland and Longmont through the Colorado Front Range Trail, and we also have a long-term plan for a Little Thompson trail that will eventually go all the way to Milliken. I’ve seen an incredible amount of activity from more northern communities as they begin to link together their portions of the Front Range Trail and river pathways. Now is a perfect time to start conversations with other governments and interested parties to develop a more detailed plan of how we are going to complete our portion. If we do not continuously reaffirm ourselves to our long-term plans, they will begin to slip. This is exemplified with the lane expansions at Interstate 25 threatening our ability to continue the Little Thompson Trail without diverting to the proposed underpass. I’m a town representative on the Northern Colorado Bike and Ped Collaborative which is a part of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The collaborative is working to ensure river trails, including the Little Thompson, will be able to follow the river’s path underneath I-25 as planned. 

The following response is from Jeff Hindman:

  1. Why are you running for town trustee/mayor? I am running for mayor to put my experience and knowledge to work for the citizens of Berthoud. I know how to run a meeting properly, and the role of the mayor in developing consensus among the trustees to give clear direction to the town administrator. Without strong leadership from the mayor, the town board is less productive and there is more tension and divisiveness than is necessary. This hurts Berthoud and its residents and less is accomplished at a time the town needs to be moving forward quickly to address numerous issues of concern to citizens of our town, like building recreation facilities and pedestrian safety.
  1. What do you believe the role of a trustee should be? The role of the board of trustees is to represent their constituents and develop the policies voters want to see enacted. This should be translated into priorities and goals and objectives for the town administrator to implement. The board needs to hold the administrator accountable for those policies being achieved and, if they are not, make changes to ensure they are.
  1. What do you believe are the three most important issues facing Berthoud? 1) Recreation and trails, 2) economic development, and 3) raising the bar on our low development standards. The town is years behind on recreational facilities, like rebuilding our outdoor pool, connecting trails and building ball fields. The community survey from three years ago demonstrated residents want a rec center and are willing to pay for it. The town has made slow progress on these issues in the last two years and now is the time to move ahead in finalizing the PORT plan and going to voters for funding.  All of the voters I am talking to want more stores, services and restaurants in Berthoud. It is up to the town to parlay the explosive growth we have had the last two years into recruiting new businesses to locate in Berthoud. Residents, new and old, want to spend more money in town, but they lack choices of businesses. Berthoud needs to capture more of the sales tax revenue of Berthoud residents that is now being spent in other communities.The low quality of several of Berthoud’s new neighborhoods is evident to many residents. Due to the recession, Berthoud lowered its development standards to attract residential growth, and now that we have an overwhelming number of new subdivisions and building permits, now is the time to increase our design regulations and improve the quality of our new construction – residential and commercial.
  2. What is your vision for downtown Berthoud? The town needs to encourage redevelopment of downtown with higher density and more retail and office space. A special downtown zoning district should be created that is distinct from other commercial areas and allow mixed use. Loveland has done a very good job of promoting public / private partnerships, and their downtown is thriving. Berthoud should take a similar approach, but ensure new buildings are not taller than three stories and match the historical character of old downtown. The downtown redevelopment area should extend from First Street to Eighth Street and from Welch Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue. We have started to do this with the RFP for redevelopment of the old town-hall site.
  3. How can the town improve recreational opportunities? Finalize the Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Trails (PORT) master plan. Then do a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to prioritize and quantify funding needs. Then identify a funding mechanism that will allow major facilities to be built quickly and put that tax increase to voters for approval. The PORT survey shows the residents would be willing to pay for the amenities they want, and we owe them the chance to vote on that question. With approval Berthoud will be able to move quickly to build much-needed facilities, like a ball-field complex and a new outdoor swimming pool. Maybe we can build phase one of a rec center and plan for phase two. We will be able to use and enjoy these facilities while we pay for them over the next 15 years. If voters don’t support additional funding we will need to lower our sights and just build facilities one at a time as limited funding allows.
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