Mayor candidates hold forum in Castle Rock

Questions focus on growth, economic development

Posted 10/21/18

Castle Rock residents got another chance this month to meet the men vying to become the town's first at-large mayor face-to-face. Candidates Jason Gray, Randy Reed and Charles Fletcher sat for a …

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Mayor candidates hold forum in Castle Rock

Questions focus on growth, economic development

Posted

Castle Rock residents got another chance this month to meet the men vying to become the town's first at-large mayor face-to-face.

Candidates Jason Gray, Randy Reed and Charles Fletcher sat for a forum at town hall the evening of Oct. 18. Moderator John Manka opened the night with a topic Gray called the latest buzzword in town — growth — asking how they'd address it in the future.

More questions throughout the evening fell under that umbrella. Residents submitted their inquiries through social media and from the crowd.

They wanted to know how the town could attract large employers, what candidates' thoughts were on incentivizing new businesses and what amenities the town still needed.

Reed said the town should market itself to large businesses and primary employers, also a mission Gray said he'd “want to lean on as mayor.” Fletcher thinks the town could leverage its small retail and office space — if it brings in broadband — to become “a haven for tech companies” and smaller startups.

All candidates seemed to agree that new businesses shouldn't receive incentive packages if it could hurt existing operations in town, such as similar companies.

Fletcher said the town has ample retail — naming the still-developing Promenade as an example — and he's unlikely to support incentivizing more unless it's bringing a new service to town. Reed said incentives are often necessary to attract those new businesses. Gray agreed, saying the town can't “do away” with incentives but they should be carefully considered.

“Towns across America incentivize businesses,” Gray said.

And there's still room for more amenities, they said. Candidates noted how the town's growth has already spurred more entertainment options in Castle Rock.

The Starlighting began with crowds of 150 and now draws roughly 20,000 people to the downtown district, and a concert series fills the town's amphitheater through the summer months.

Fletcher suggested, to cheers from the crowd, the town could benefit from an Alamo theater. Reed questioned if the town could bring in minor league baseball. Gray envisions bolstering trail systems to connect parks from The Meadows to downtown's Festival Park to Founders.

“We have some great events and they've really grown,” Fletcher said, commending town staff, “particularly over the last few years.”

Ultimately, Reed said, growth is good for the community. Gray believes the town should look at it positively. Fletcher said he's “a big proponent of smart growth.”

All candidates called for “smart,” “responsible,” “managed” growth.

Reed said there's opportunity for infill development in town, but it needs to fit with existing infrastructure. High-density projects should be focused on the outer areas of town.

Gray called for more affordable housing to support workers like first responders and teachers. He believes it could make the growth feel less overwhelming.

Fletcher said the town should communicate between residents and developers early in the process to people understand what's being proposed.

The election takes place Nov. 6. Residents should receive their ballots this month.

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