A City On The Brink
A lot has been said recently about Lafayette’s “friendliness” to some of the big box retailers. (See Lowe’s, Super Wal-Mart.) The city desperately needs to pump up its retail sales tax base, but it can’t do so at the expense of its charm, one of the primary reasons for living there. That being said, the city has jumped on board a regional sales tax sharing revenue study, but the new council will need to go a step further. Old Town Lafayette is in need of a facelift. Major blight potential at South Boulder Road and South Public Road needs to be addressed sooner than later. And officials must take a hard look at a budget that could turn into a gorilla of a problem if not addressed now.
City Council Seats (pick four)
Kerry Bensman, Frank Phillips, Alex Schatz and Jay Ruggeri over Brian Herzfeld, Stacia Lupberger, Robert Brown, Melinda Medrick-Nye* and Laura Oster
Usually you keep an incumbent in office because the city is running smoothly and everybody seems happy about direction. We’re telling you to re-elect Kerry Bensman because he knows how to ruffle feathers and can get a city staff member to roll his or her eyes in seconds. And it’s not because Bensman goes over the top with outlandish ideas; it’s because he has well-thought arguments that sometimes don’t mesh with popular opinion, and he is never afraid to speak up. With a background that includes an MIT and Harvard education, Bensman will be a leader in helping the city fix serious budget problems it’s expected to face in coming years and will continue to be the watchdog that keeps the rest of council honest. He also gets bonus points for sticking up for the small business owners devastated by Wal-Mart’s move from South Public Road to Highway 287.
With everyone touting redevelopment with a side of transportation, Frank Phillips is making sure open space policy doesn’t get lost in the mix. As a sitting council member he continues his work in saving the “chicken barns” on Highway 7 and sees open space as one of the great ways to keep Lafayette a small town that thrives off its mountainous setting. This is not to say Phillips is a one-issue candidate. Far from it. The incumbent expects the city to become a leader in energy conservation, clean energy and building affordable housing for seniors. He’s concerned with business in Old Town, and would like to encourage small business to move in via incentives and increase foot traffic on South Public Road with more community events. As far as redeveloping the Old Town entrance vacated by the Wal-Mart move, he prioritizes the South Boulder Road extension so it becomes thruway instead of an afterthought on travel to 287. He says that road project will be a shot in the arm to Old Town—and he’s correct.
Two years ago, Jay Ruggeri garnered the fourth most votes in the council election, meaning he was granted a two-year, mini-term in office. He’s taken his trial period and run with it, working extensively in breaking down barriers many city residents face. He helped change building codes so all new home construction is built with proper sizing so disabled owners can easily retrofit the houses without adding ugly ramps or tearing down walls. He was instrumental in helping the Latino Advisory Board become a reality, giving area Hispanics a voice. The same goes for a youth advisory board that has given the area’s youngest residents an avenue to talk to city representatives. He championed for the city’s new comprehensive recycling service, and now wants to tackle building codes to truly make green building a viable option. One interesting idea of his is to close West Chester Street in Old Town and turn it into a park to help lure residents to stay downtown. He expects it’ll cost a worthwhile $100,000, which could be recouped in the sales tax generated by the additional traffic flow.
Alex Schatz is strong-willed, much like incumbent Kerry Bensman. He was upset with how city officials handled the moving of Wal-Mart, when the city gave the retail giant incentives to set up shop down the road, leaving a gaping, blighted shopping center at the foot of Old Town. He realizes transforming this site quickly is a key to pumping up South Public Road and stabilizing the city’s lagging tax base. Punching South Boulder Road through to the Northwest Parkway is key in making the commercial strip a viable development option, he says. Schatz, whose resume includes being an analyst on the joint budget committee of the Colorado General Assembly, will be a great voice in trying to fix some major budgeting problems the city will face in the coming years. Schatz has also been active in Lafayette government, serving on the planning commission and open space advisory committee, to name a few. With a law degree from CU and a landscape architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin, he brings a unique skill set to help Lafayette grow into one of the top North Metro communities.
Yes on ballot issues 2A & 2B
Road and rec center improvements
By going forward with both these issues, Lafayette could pay for street, traffic and parking improvements (2A), as well as upgrades to the recreation center (2B). This gives the city the authority to sell bonds to pay for such improvements ($6.25 million for 2A and $660,000 for 2B) without raising taxes.
Yes on question 2A
Residential growth management
Lafayette’s plan to limit residential growth to 200 homes per year was a great start to ensuring smart development in the city. Now voters are asked to renew the limits, and considering the city hasn’t reached that number of homes being built in recent years, it makes sense to continue the restriction. If the economy turns up, Lafayette will be protected from mass developments that may not be in the best interest of the community.
Yes on questions 2B and 2C
Council actions and procedures
The first stipulates that council only act by ordinance, resolution or motion, and defines when these actions should be used, the later clarifies language relating to how council members assume office following elections. Basically, it’ll streamline processes.
Yes on ballot question 2D
The books are a bit messy when it comes to fines and sentences for crimes that reach the municipal court. This will clarify the role of council and give it control over sentence structure within state statutes.
Yes on ballot question 2E
This measure will reduce redundancy in city charter in regards to its ethics policy. Basic house cleaning, really.?