Glenwood Downtown Development Authority hires director | AspenTimes.com
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Glenwood Downtown Development Authority hires director

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Leslie Bethel
ALL |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority has a new executive director.

The DDA hired Leslie Bethel of Leslie Bethel Design and Planning LLC, of Carbondale, to fill the position.

“I’m just thrilled for the opportunity,” she said. “I’ve had so much work in Glenwood that the idea of getting to work with the DDA, I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.”

It’s a move that DDA board member Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering, says is a good fit for Glenwood Springs.

“She’s got a great background and has experience in just about everything that we were looking for in terms of public and private partnerships,” Moak said. “She is very enthusiastic and anxious to get started, which we felt was a good fit for the job.”

Bethel is no stranger to Glenwood Springs. Her portfolio includes co-authoring both Glenwood’s downtown plan in the late ’90s and the city’s confluence plan, approved in 2003. She’s also done other work for the public and private sector with broad experience in developing downtown investment strategies for 15 Colorado towns and cities, and nine more municipalities across the nation. She was also involved in the design and construction of Coors Field and Ocean Journey in Denver.

“I feel fortunate to have worked on so many interesting projects,” she said.

Most recently, Bethel developed and constructed the master plan for the Snowmass Village entryway, which includes parks, a recreation and transit center, and affordable housing. But it’s because of her experience in Glenwood that she applied for the DDA position.

“I have a lot of history in Glenwood,” Bethel said.

Bethel was hired on a professional service contract with the DDA board of directors. The DDA board and City Council approved an appropriation for $60,000 for 2010 to support the position, but City Manager Jeff Hecksel said that the actual amount could vary depending on the scope of work involved.

Hecksel said that the exact pay rate will be established in the next 90 days. The contract expires on Dec. 31, 2011, at which time the board can elect to renew Bethel’s contract, or not.

The DDA’s primary source of funding comes from Tax Increment Financing (TIF), part of which is paid through property taxes and the majority comes from sales taxes collected within the district. While TIF funds’ intended use is for capital improvements, the sales tax portion of revenues can be used to support the administrative position.

The authority comprises downtown business owners who handle capital improvement projects to promote downtown businesses. The authority is made up mostly of volunteers; it hired a full-time director in 2002 but failed to generate a revenue stream to support the position’s salary of about $100,000 per year. The position was terminated after 2004.

The DDA is currently repaying the city close to $300,000, which funded the position for those three years. The DDA has agreed to pay back the funds at $30,000 per year, tax free, for the next 10 years, starting in 2010.

The DDA director is charged with many tasks, including developing capital projects, attracting new development through public and private investment, and business straightening and recruitment for the downtown.

Hecksel said the city received five responses from the request for proposal regarding the position, and four people were interviewed, but Bethel was the top choice.

“She has a lot of experience for this position, which is very specific to downtown,” Hecksel said. “I think the board is pleased.”

The Glenwood City Council approved the contract administration position in December. The change relieves Hecksel, who has filled in as executive director for the past several years, but Hecksel said he will likely still be involved to some extent.

“I’ll be involved, just not as directly. It will be on a more case by case basis,” he said.

jgardner@aspentimes.com


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