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Publish Date: 3/25/2006

Business on minds of Lyons hopefuls


LYONS — Every one of the dozen residents vying for a seat on the town board has ideas about making the town’s business district more appealing to tourists driving to Estes Park from Denver or Boulder.

Most of them want to tweak Main Street’s nuts and bolts, touching up dilapidated sidewalks and adding parking and streetlights.

Others want to use outside advertising to lure visitors to Lyons’ quirky antiques shops and restaurants.

Mayor Tim Kyer, who is seeking re-election, said the town board can best help business by making infrastructure improvements downtown.

Lyons landed a $300,000 grant earlier this year to help revitalize downtown, and the town government must pony up $60,000 in improvements to secure the cash, Kyer said.

“One thing we can do is prioritize capital improvements that we have to do anyway,” he said, naming sidewalk and water pipe improvements as examples. “We don’t have to come to the business community and say, ‘We have to pass a sidewalk tax.’”

Kyer’s opponent and former mayor, Nicholas Angelo, said the town is on the right track with the grant. But Lyons leaders may need to look outside town limits to create a healthy business district, he said.

“Maybe we could strategize on how to advertise the town more efficiently,” Angelo said.

Incumbent Trustee Kris Hicar, one of 10 candidates for six open seats, said she thinks a marketing study being done by students at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley will help Lyons sell itself to nonresidents.

“Your downtown area is doomed to fail unless you have a marketing plan,” she said. “Our population is not big enough to keep businesses afloat. We need outsiders to come in.”

Candidate Chris Combs said the town’s government must play a complementary but limited role in building a vital downtown.

“The town can focus on making the streets look better, creating sidewalk connections, connecting the three different business corridors we have in town,” he said. “Overall, the initiative needs to come from private businesses.”

Devon Dix — at 24, the youngest contender — said he feels the board needs fresh eyes to look at the lackluster infrastructure in the business district.

“I’m just not happy with what’s going on in the town right now,” he said. “The basic infrastructure in the town needs to be looked at.”

Incumbent Peter Baumgartner said the town could help lure visitors by helping to develop its kayaking park, a proposed bicycle velodrome and trail connections to surrounding open space.

“Lyons could become an outdoor recreation center,” he wrote in an e-mail interview. “There is more to be done, but right now the town of Lyons has a lot of momentum.”

David Goranson said the town needs to tackle basic infrastructure before fretting over amenities like outdoor recreation.

“I think we’re trying to become too cosmopolitan without taking care of the basic needs of the citizens,” he said. “The roads are in terrible shape, but we’re worried about putting in a velodrome.”

Incumbent Manny Vasquez said the town needs to make its business district a place that grabs motorists’ attention.

“If we have some more signage and beautify Lyons some more, I think people will stop,” he said. “One thing we can do is create more parking. It’s hard to make it a destination, because we have to compete with Estes Park.”

Incumbent LaVern Johnson, who also is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks the improvements are coming along nicely.

“(The chamber is) putting up signs trying to stop the tourists,” she said. “We’re trying to have different things for people who come to town.”

Walt Kinderman, a retired Lyons newspaper publisher, said infrastructure improvements would be helpful but maintaining year-round business in town is always going to be difficult.

“It’s a tough road,” he said. “I’ve seen so many businesses come into Lyons, and (many) don’t survive the first winter.”

Jim Dougherty said the town should beef up parking to aid its niche businesses but it will never be a major commercial center like the larger cities in Boulder County.

“Our Main Street is pretty diversified,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who shop at Longmont or Boulder.”

Incumbent Brian Donnell said the town board should help support local entrepreneurs in the short term, but it also has to manage Lyons’ tax base for the future. The town will reach its building capacity in a decade or so and must wean itself off revenue from builders’ fees, he said.

“We’ve got to have ways to compensate for that without putting more tax burdens on the citizens,” he said.

Voters head to the polls April 4 to choose the seven winners.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Name: Nicholas Angelo
Age: 57
Occupation: Fine art and rare book dealer
Civic experience: Trustee 1995-98, mayor 1998-2000
Personal: Married, four children

Name: Tim Kyer, incumbent
Age: 45
Occupation: Designer
Civic experience: Mayor since 2004; trustee, 1999-2004
Personal: Married, one son

TRUSTEE CANDIDATES

Name: Peter Baumgartner, incumbent
Age: 54
Occupation: Financial adviser
Civic experience: Trustee since 2004
Personal: Married, two children

Name: Chris Combs
Age: 34
Occupation: Antiques dealer
Civic experience: Town planning commissioner, 1999-present
Personal: Married, one son

Name: Devon Dix
Age: 24
Occupation: Carpet cleaner
Civic experience: Has never held office
Personal: Married, one son

Name: Brian Donnell, incumbent
Age: 45
Occupation: Software engineer
Civic experience: Trustee since 2004
Personal: Married, two children

Name: Jim Dougherty
Age: 58
Occupation: Retired
Civic experience: Town planning commissioner 1986-96; Lyons fire board member 1990-96
Personal: Four children

Name: David Goranson
Age: 35
Occupation: Information technology manager
Civic experience: Lyons fire board member, 1996-98, 2004-present
Personal: Married

Name: Kris Hicar, incumbent
Age: 39
Occupation: Homemaker
Civic experience: Trustee since 2002
Personal: Married, two children

Name: LaVern Johnson, incumbent
Age: Declined
Occupation: Retired
Civic experience: Trustee since 1999 (in a separate ballot item, voters must abolish term limits in town for Johnson to serve another two years)
Personal: Widowed

Name: Walt Kinderman
Age: 69
Occupation: Retired
Civic experience: Has never held office
Personal: Single

Name: Manny Vasquez, incumbent
Age: 26
Occupation: Saloon manager
Civic experience: Trustee since 2004
Personal: Engaged, two children

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