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Town's future coming into focus

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UPDATE: Carbondale trustees unanimously voted to offer employment as the Town’s next manager to Lauren Gister. She is currently the first selectwoman/mayor of the town of Chester, Connecticut. Mayor Dan Richardson clarified that, as first selectwoman/mayor, Gister serves as a combination of mayor/manager for Chester, a town not unlike Carbondale. Gister also speaks Spanish fluently and is a 25-year Marine veteran and practicing attorney. Said Richardson, “With great enthusiasm, I will support this contract and this hire.” 

The two-year contract has Gister beginning Jan. 17, 2022 at $180,000 per year.

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On behalf of The Sopris Sun, congratulations to Lauren! We look forward to welcoming you into the Carbondale community.

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To avoid having our delivery person work on the Thanksgiving holiday, The Sopris Sun went to press a day early this week. Expect full reports from the Nov. 23 Carbondale Board of Town Trustees and Basalt Town Council meetings in the Dec. 2 issue.

At a special meeting on Nov. 16, Trustees reviewed community grant applications. The Town historically allocates 1% of its general fund budget to community grants, which amounts to $95,000 for 2021. Each grant is capped at $5,000, max. The meeting began with consideration for whether or not an organization may apply for funds procured from the new nicotine tax, as well as the general community grants. There was consensus among trustees that given the “relatively modest amounts,” in the words of Mayor Pro Tem Ben Bohmfalk, who led the meeting in Mayor Dan Richardson’s absence, “if they end up getting something else from the nicotine tax, then that’s okay.”

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The nicotine tax, approved by voters in April 2020, is anticipated to bring in more than $250,000 this year to be directed toward cessation and prevention efforts, as well as sales enforcement and education.

Returning to community grants, organizations that secured the top amount include Senior Matters, the Carbondale Clay Center, KDNK, English in Action and Carbondale Arts. After personally reviewing all applications, trustees made their recommendations which were then averaged out by the Town’s finance department. Many organizations received their requested amount, except those that asked for more than the $5,000 cap. About $6,000 was left over — “By underfunding, it gives us sort of wiggle room later on,” said Trustee Marty Silvertsein.

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There was agreement that, apart from the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Council and Creative District, economic development organizations including Coventure should request funds under the same community grants framework as other nonprofits, as opposed to pursuing Town funds independent of this process.

The special meeting ended with the Town agreeing to join other nationwide municipalities in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and parent company Janssen and three large opioid distributors. The meeting was completed in 36 minutes. The Town’s proposed budget is available at carbondalegov.org for review. 

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On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the public had an opportunity to meet the next batch of town manager finalist candidates: Travis Elliott, Lauren Gister and Brian Smith. The three were then interviewed by a community panel and staff panel on Thursday and by the Board of Town Trustees on Friday. It is anticipated that a new town manager will be hired at the Trustee meeting on Nov. 23.

In other news…

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The Planning and Zoning Commission met on Nov. 18 with contractor Cushing Terrell to discuss draft recommendations for the comprehensive plan update. According to polling, still underway, most components of the plan see a majority of support from residents, although some by a thin margin (particularly the categories “Downtown” and “Downtown North”).

Much of the meeting focused on a “Future Land Use Framework” map that accounts for growth with two new roundabouts (one near the Roaring Fork Coop and the other next to the Ross Montessori School at the Town’s southern “gateway” connecting Weant Boulevard with Highway 133).After reviewing strategies and priorities, another update to the recommendations will occur prior to a special meeting slated for mid-December for the Planning Commission’s final approval on recommendations for the comprehensive plan update that will likely go before the Board of Town Trustees in early 2022. Related documents are posted at: www.carbondalekaleidoscope.org/

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This map indicates future land use recommendations by Cushing Terrell. Courtesy graphic

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Tags: #Board of Town Trustees #Comp Plan update #Cushing Terrell #Planning Commission #Town Manager
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