Sparhawk appointed as Carbondale trustee |

Sparhawk appointed as Carbondale trustee

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Erica Sparhawk takes her seat on the Carbondale Board of Trustees after being appointed Tuesday to fill the last vacancy.
Sopris Sun |

Carbondale trustees have finally made the Town Council whole again, having appointed Erica Sparhawk to fill the last trustee vacancy.

The open seat was created when Dan Richardson, elected to the board in April, was elected mayor in November. Sparhawk’s term will run until April 2018.

Sparhawk was born and raised in Carbondale and moved back to town with her family seven years ago. Since then she has worked for Clean Energy Economy for the Region, appearing before the Board of Trustees numerous times.

Her position on CLEER also has led her to present to many other local governments in the area, including the Garfield County commissioners and the councils of Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt and Rifle.

“I’ve always enjoyed these public meetings, and it’s been a great opportunity to learn about the issues in those communities,” many of which are dealing with similar challenges, such as affordable housing, she said Tuesday.

Housing is an area where Carbondale residents are being left behind, with three families living together in some houses and seasonal workers cramming into small apartments, she said.

Sparhawk said she is passionate about Carbondale and is raising her children there.

“I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining … diversity. But we need to hang onto that, because it would be easy for that to go away” in the face of increasing property values and the normalization of big box stores, she said.

Trustee Heather Henry said there is some risk that people who grow up in Carbondale stand in the way of it progressing, and she questioned Sparhawk’s vision for the town’s future.

Sparhawk used the example of the Satank neighborhood and the more suburban River Valley Ranch, saying there’s room for both and that a big part of the draw to Carbondale is that it’s not a “cookie-cutter community.”

She envisions that vitality continuing as the town identifies priorities — where the next bike path will go, how to improve transportation — “without getting ourselves into a rigid plan where all the houses look the same.”

Sparhawk added that, while designing programs for CLEER, she’s found that she enjoys working on budgets and creating successful programs that in the end have to fall in place with other budget items.

Ultimately, most of the trustees favored her years of experience with local boards and the environmental issues that, as Henry put it, are at the forefront for Carbondale.

Six other applicants were shooting for the position, including James Breasted, Beth Broome, Sarah Johnson, Rebecca Moller and Doc Philip.

The trustees encouraged all of them to seek other ways to engage with the town government, such as on one of Carbondale’s many volunteer boards.