Reynolds wants tighter growth controls
Eagle County commissioner candidate Albert “Buz” Reynolds appears to present a paradox. Although he’s worked for 28 years as a contractor and developer in the Eagle Valley, he’s calling for tighter growth controls.”I’m not saying I’m anti-growth, but I’m interested in quality not quantity,” said Reynolds.He acknowledged that it might be unusual for a contractor to call for growth controls, but he also believes it makes sense.”It’s also my home,” he said of Eagle County. And he fears the county is in danger of becoming “suburbia from one end to the other.”Reynolds, 52, of Avon, noted that projections show the population of Eagle County could double by the year 2020. The county doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle that growth, Reynolds said.He believes the level of growth should be dictated by issues such as the ability of roads to adequately handle the traffic and the ability of developers to show they have “wet” water rights – proof positive that they can supply their development with water.Reynolds is also steadfastly against a proposal favored by Gov. Bill Owens to expand Interstate 70 from Denver into the mountains to accommodate increasing traffic levels and relieve congestion.Reynolds said he refers to Owens as “Governor Asphalt.””It would be a disaster to expand I-70,” he said. Traffic would eventually fill all six lanes, three in each direction, and the environment would suffer because of increased air and noise pollution, according to Reynolds.What Eagle County needs are alternative transportation solutions, such as a monorail from the Front Range, he said. A recent trip to Europe inspired his support for rail. He visited southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.”I have seen their train system. I’m awed.”A statewide ballot question proposing a tax to fund a Front Range-to-Eagle County system failed. He proposed a toll on I-70 as the funding mechanism.Reynolds is one of three candidates running in the Eagle County commissioner District 2 race. He is running as an unaffiliated candidate against incumbent Democrat Arn Menconi and Republican challenger A.J. Johnson.Reynolds has served on the Avon Town Council since 1996, winning four-year terms twice. The council selects the mayor from within its ranks, and Reynolds was picked for the post two years ago. Term limits will force him out of office this year.Reynolds said he was asked by representatives of both political parties to run for commissioner. He stayed unaffiliated because it would have been “two-faced” for him to take the party nod while advocating some of the positions he’s taken, he explained.For example, Reynolds favors converting Eagle County from a statutory to a home rule style of government. That would allow the county to expand the number of commissioners from the current three to five.Reynolds said the change is necessary to give people greater representation and to expand democracy. He also favors doing away with a partisan system that favors a candidate with a party affiliation.In addition, he wants the commissioners to be selected only by the voters in the district they represent. He said that could tremendously improve representation for the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County because it would be guaranteed its own representative on the board.”Right now I don’t think El Jebel and Basalt are represented well enough,” he said.Changing the style of government would require approval by county voters. Reynolds said the commissioners either need to put the measure on the ballot or citizens need to petition to put it on.”It’s not working with the current system,” he said.Specifically what’s not working is wide-ranging representative government, he explained. He said he’s pledged to mount a nonconfrontational campaign, so he wouldn’t point fingers at any of the current commissioners, but generally he said many county residents don’t feel they are represented.One position on Reynolds’ campaign piece that might raise eyebrows or even ire among voters in the Roaring Fork Valley is his pledge to offer “financial and economic support for our two largest generators, Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas, as they battle to stay number one in the ski industry.”When asked why a person from the Roaring Fork Valley would want to assist the ski areas in the Eagle Valley, Reynolds said it shouldn’t be looked at that way. He said he wasn’t suggesting that public funds should subsidize those ski areas’ operations.What he means, he said, is Eagle County government can pursue transportation alternatives on I-70 and use public funds to improve the Eagle County Regional Airport. Those acts will indirectly benefit the county’s ski-based tourism economy and generate sales and property tax revenues that fund county services and improvements, he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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