Name: Hank Pantier
Relevant leadership or community experience:
For the past two years I have been involved with the Grandview HOA, serving as president for the past 15 months. I’ve owned my own business for nine years; the past four here in Erie.
What are the three top issues for Erie in the coming years? What will be your plan for fixing/solving/dealing with those issues?
Smart Economic Growth – Erie, Colorado will see much economic growth in the near future. I believe that smart growth, maintaining Erie’s unique personality and sense of community offers many more long term benefits than promoting any growth for the sake of tax dollars in the short term. I believe the board should provide incentives for businesses who are deemed likely to help Erie expand its tax base and who have the potential to attract other businesses to Erie.
Community Development – We have an amazing internal network of “trails” in Erie. As a community, I would like to see us focus on connecting our network with those of Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield, and even Longmont and Boulder. This would unite Erie with the surrounding areas in a more personal way than roads can facilitate. I believe that in addition to recreation, trails provide another transportation option and promote a sense of community.
An Airport Solution – For many years Erie has struggled with how to best operate the Erie Municipal Airport. Many approaches have been tried, but the proper solution has not yet been implemented. I think it is time we give the airport the attention it deserves and find a better way to manage this unique asset.
What does future successful economic development look like in Erie? What is the board’s role in making that happen?
A successful economic landscape consists of locally-owned businesses that cater to Erie’s demographics; larger retailers that help provide a tax base, attract other businesses and generate revenue from surrounding communities; and primary employers who can bring careers to Erie. I believe that it is the role of the Board of Trustees to create the economic environment that will facilitate this growth. Larger retailers who are likely to draw other businesses to Erie need to have an incentive for choosing Erie. The board needs to actively seek out businesses that would be a good fit for our town. The Old Town and Briggs Street areas need to be the focus for us to grow local businesses. The larger arteries, I-25, HWY 7, HWY 52 and HWY 287 need to be developed for national retailers and primary employers.
What role should the town take in supporting and attracting business downtown? Do you believe the board should do more to support the business of Old Town area? If so, what?
Old Town provides the charm and sense of community that people feel when they come to Erie – it is an asset that needs to be preserved. I believe a comprehensive advertising package that could be used to promote Erie to potential businesses would be a great project for the next board to work on. Such a package would feature the different areas of town and identify the positive aspects and unique personality of each. Additionally, I think the board could help in the formation of an Old Town business development group – a similar concept to Downtown Boulder, the merchant group that promotes Pearl Street
What actions —if any—should the board take to make the town a stronger regional player?
The primary function of the board is to make Erie a “stronger regional player”. Whether it is developing a Community Park, getting grant money for a new trail, or approving a new business license, every action the board makes should support making Erie a better community.
As far as the airport is concerned, what is your stance how the board has handled the recent situation? What are future steps the board should take??
In a recent blog post I entitled “Not In the Business of Running a Business,” I outline the reasons why I believe that the Board should look for a company to whom we could outsource the running of the Airport. In short, the reasons are twofold.
First, the current board spends upwards of 50% of their time dealing with airport issues. These issues directly effect less than 2% of the residents of Erie. It’s certainly not that they aren’t important issues, but this dedication of time is imbalanced in relation to the other residents and neighborhoods who also have important issues that need to be addressed.
Second, the board as a whole has virtually little to no experience with running an airport, complying with the FAA, or aviation regulations. As a business owner, it would be impractical to turn over my business for someone else to run who didn’t have any knowledge of or experience in my industry. I feel that with the town trying to manage this valuable asset, we’re doing a great disservice to the airport and the residents who depend on the airport’s success.
What is Erie’s biggest transportation need in the coming years??
I believe Erie actually has two equally large transportation needs in the upcoming years. First, to continue to maintain our sense of community as Erie grows, having interconnected bike trails between neighborhoods and town amenities is extremely important. Trails such as these not only create alternative transportation conduits, but serve to promote a sense of community to residents using them. Along these same lines, I would like to see Erie focus strategically on building sections of trail that will connect with the surrounding municipalities such as Lafayette, Louisville, and even running trails north into Longmont.
Second, Erie’s options for public transportation are currently limited to one RTD bus that leaves from the Community Center. I would like to see expanded bus service into Erie, for instance, from the Community Center into Denver or north into Longmont and Fort Collins. I would also like to see the expansion of our Park & Ride located along I-25 and Erie Parkway.
Give me your philosophy on growth in Erie? In your vision, what does future growth look like and how is it managed??
Erie is a town on the brink of economic change. Over the past five years while I’ve lived in Erie the changes have been mind boggling. We have a Community Center, new residential developments, and Leon A. Wurl Parkway has been rerouted and now renamed. What was once a field now has a host of restaurants and other small businesses.
The ability to continue offering first-rate resources and activities (such as the Erie Community Library, the Community Center, and Concert in the Park), depends on Erie developing an expanded economic base. Thanks to the diligent work done by our current and past boards, Erie is an opportune position to embrace growth. We must be diligent during this transition to not let our growth come at the expense of harming the sense of community in Erie. A sustainable economic base depends on a variety of business types carefully crafted into the ideal mix.
The commercial development surrounding the community center and Old Town defines Erie. The variety of locally-owned businesses; aesthetics of the buildings themselves; and accessibility via trails, roads and sidewalks along with the proximity to resources like the new Erie Community Park make these businesses easily frequented by Erie residents. Making these areas economically attractive to the right kind potential businesses ensures that Erie can grow but still maintain the things that make us unique.
The major corridors that surround Erie provide an excellent opportunity for larger “big box” type businesses to operate. Safeway on the corner of HWY 287 and Arapahoe Road has proven the potential success of this model. Acting as an anchor, stores like Safeway become sales tax multipliers by attracting smaller businesses as well. Larger entities will not only provide services to the residents of Erie, but due to their proximity to major arteries pull in dollars from neighboring communities. Many potential business sites still exist that can support bigger stores with potential development along HWY 7 and on I-25.
Businesses that provide primary employment will be another component to Erie’s ideal economic mix. Accessibility to these businesses will be key since they will likely draw their employees from areas outside of Erie. The major transportation arteries are a logical location for these businesses as well.
I believe this blend of smaller, local companies in the center of Erie, with larger stores and employers surrounding our town will give us a sustainable economic base and preserve our unique personality.
What action—if any—would you like to see the town take on waste collection or recycling?
?It seems to be the trend with our surrounding communities to move to a unified waste collection and recycling service on the town level. Erie already has some experience in this area in so much as the town is the provider of water to residents and businesses.
I believe that the town joining together as a whole to employ one trash provider has some positive advantages.
Lower cost to each individual house
Accountability by the service provider
Less wear to town streets due to decreased amount of truck traffic
Increased awareness and participation in recycling programs
Fewer days where trash cans are curbside
The challenge in going with a single provider is ensuring that the town does not jeopardize future negotiations by creating a regional monopoly through awarding a contract. Unified trash service should only be pursued if an acceptable longterm deal can be structured.
What’s your stance on the Bonanza Drive connection??
Ballot question 2E is unquestionably the most polarizing of all issues Erie voters will cast votes for on April 6th. The complexity of this decision lends itself to creating this division. I believe the connection between Bonanza and Vista Parkway is inevitable. It may not be passed in April, but at some point a retailer’s desire to locate on the corner of HWY 7 and Bonanza may very well force the issue.
I do believe, in the short term, the impact of creating a connection would be minimal. Without a business on the corner of Bonanza and HWY 7, there will not be a real catalyst for increased traffic. Should 2E pass, it will likely only affect the residents living nearest the new road in the coming months.
Looking further down the road, having the connection will make the corner of Bonanza and HWY 7 more desirable for a bigger business. However, published articles on the traffic studies indicated little increased traffic projected because of the proposed connection.
My biggest concern if 2E does not pass is that at some point in the future a board may be forced to make the tough decision of either denying a large retailer whose choice to do business in Erie hinges on the connection, or going against the voters by establishing a connection to win the business and the tax dollars that they would bring Erie.
Once you are elected, how will you stay in tune with the ideas, issues, concerns and questions of your constituents??
At a town level I think Erie’s website could be better leveraged to gather feedback and input from the residents. This could take the form of a submission form, a message board, a wiki for HOA board members and re-posting of meetings via a YouTube Channel. Additionally, the power of social media should be harnessed via an Erie Facebook page, an Erie Twitter feed, and an Erie Ning community.
On a personal level, I will continue to post my opinion and gather feedback on my personal blog hankpantier.com. I will do my best to continue to answer any comments that come in and directly respond to all emails. Additionally, I will post a meeting recap after each Board of Trustees meeting.
Technology can never replace the good done by talking to someone, meeting a new resident face-to-face, or discussing Erie to a potential new business. I think it is important for Erie residents to support local businesses, not only does this help our town financially, but it gives residents another opportunity to talk and gives members of the Board another chance to listen. I think it is important that Board members talk to other parents when they drop their kids off at school. I think the Community Center is another location to take the pulse of Erie. In short, simply because of the connection I have to Erie, the fact that my whole family lives, works, and plays right here, I feel I will stay connected to the residents.
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