Moving to a Home Rule Municipality is an important next step for Erie, empowering our town to decide what is best for us as we grow, instead of relying on broad, state statutes. Most of us were drawn to Erie by the stunning mountain vistas and the charm of our small town. Adopting our own resident-written charter will enable us to preserve that charm, protect those vistas, and create a welcoming community with sustainable revenue.
Ensuring access to a variety of housing options at varying price points for people at every stage of life is an important aspect of building a rich, diverse, and equitable hometown. Erie can invest in community by taking careful steps to ensure that our local workforce, young profesisionals, families, and seniors can afford to call Erie, “home.”
Growth is inextricably tied to Housing and Home Rule for Erie. The secret is out: Erie is a great place to live, and I think with careful planning we should keep it that way as Erie continues to grow. Preserving Erie’s charm, honoring it’s history with a solid plan for a sustainable future has to be a guiding principal as we move forward with the necessary planning for growth. This will help us nurture that nostalgic feeling that pulls at our memory and brings families home for holidays and slow Sunday strolls through the neighborhood; that supports our local businesses as they do the important work of developing character, bringing us together over cups of coffee and dinners on the patio. I’ve spoken with so many long time residents who love their neighborhoods and have shared concern about traffic congestion as the town changes to meet the needs of an ever expanding population. I’ve also heard over and over the need for more public transportation within the town, as well as connecting to neighboring communities. It’s important for the town government to explore solutions and find ways to meet these needs, to sit at decision making tables with RTD and surrounding municipal representatives to find seamless solutions. There are solutions. We just need to make sure we’re asking the right questions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a few words on this devastating catastrophe. We lived in Louisville and then Superior for 16 years before moving to Erie. Dozens and dozens of people we care deeply about were displaced and some lost everything they own. Others are still displaced because they can’t go home due to smoke damage. My family has been heavy-hearted at the loss on such an enormous scale. And we have been moved by the response to the need, the outpouring of compassion. There are lessons to learn from the Marshall Fire. The Town of Erie should be looking closely as information comes to light about how this fire spread, about pre-emptive mitigation strategies, about the long term affects, about how to evacuate an entire town more effectively, about infrastructure and resources, about being prepared for the unimaginable, because if this can happen in Louisville and Superior, it can happen in any town along the Front Range. There are bills that are being introduced during this legislative session to address wildfires and mitigation in Colorado. Erie should join local government leaders from neighboring towns to strategize and plan. We need to ask some difficult questions and be prepared for some difficult answers.