City Council candidate profile: Kathryn Trauger
Candidate for At-Large seat
Occupation: Accounting Tech III at Colorado Mountain College, seven years in May; owner/writer/blogger “Our Town – Glenwood Springs” since February 2013; has managed several business offices in a variety of industries.
Family: Married to Gene Trauger 21 years. Two sons and one stepson, Andrew Shivley, architectural engineer, Dallas; Tade Shivley, Carbondale police officer; Doug Trauger, Glenwood Springs firefighter/paramedic; two granddaughters and a grandson.
Education: Adams State College (University), Alamosa, Bachelor of Arts, journalism/media; minor in Business Administration
Previous/current civic involvement: Deputy city clerk, 1998-2001; Glenwood Springs Financial Advisory Board, 2009-2013; Glenwood Planning & Zoning Commission, 2009-present (Chair 2011-present); Glenwood Transportation Commission, 2013-present; Regional Community Development Academy; Glenwood Springs Community Development Academy; Partners4Glenwood; Roaring Fork Leadership, Class of 2015
Editor’s Note: The Post Independent begins its series of Q&A responses from the candidates vying for two contested seats on the Glenwood Springs City Council in the April 7 mail-ballot election. Ballots are to be mailed to all registered city voters on March 16. Today, Tuesday and Wednesday we introduce the candidates vying for the open at-large seat, Kathryn Trauger, Tony Hershey and Kathy Williams. On Thursday and Friday, we will feature the candidates running for the Ward 1 seat, Russ Arensman and Steve Davis, and on Saturday we will profile incumbent candidates Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba, who are running unopposed for their ward seats.
How long have you lived in Glenwood Springs?
For the better part of 46 years. My parents moved here when I was in high school in 1969. I moved away to attend college and then moved back in 1977. We came back because this is where I wanted to raise my children.
If not a native, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
I am a third-generation Colorado native. I was born in Leadville. My father retired from Climax Molybdenum to Glenwood when I was a sophomore in high school. Glenwood has been part of my life as long as I can remember. My parents had a second home in the Red Mountain area, and I would spend some summers here.
In 50 words, describe your feeling for Glenwood Springs.
This is tough for me. The emotions I feel for Glenwood are extremely strong. The closest word I can find is love. When a place has been a part of your life and your family as long as Glenwood has been for mine, is becomes part of your soul.
What prompted your decision to run for City Council?
Through my involvement with various boards and commissions I know that Glenwood needs courageous, strong leaders over the next few years to get through a critical period of transition and change and capitalize on the opportunities that abound. Several people approached me with the idea of seeking a council seat, particularly the at-large seat.
Serving on various boards and commissions, doing research and analysis for my blog, Our Town — Glenwood Springs, and my past experience as Glenwood Springs deputy city clerk provide unique knowledge and expertise that will be useful as a city councilor. Council sets the course for the city, and I want to be part of shaping the future. Of the three candidates running for the at-large seat, I am the only one with the knowledge and experience to be ready to hit the ground running.
Do you support the Colorado Department of Transportation’s current plans to replace the Grand Avenue Bridge? Why or why not?
I absolutely support replacement. There are a number of reasons why, but my top priority for this bridge is safety. Grand Avenue Bridge was built in 1953 and was designed for a lifespan of 50 years. Now, 61 years later, our bridge is showing her age. In 1953 there was no I-70 nor were there the number of cars and oversized loads passing over that bridge.
The bridge has a sufficiency rating of 43.2. The pier in the middle of the Colorado River is scour-critical. There is visible deterioration on the bridge and parts of the bridge have actually fallen off. One piece landed on a vehicle in the Hot Springs Pool parking area. Additionally, the piers are not protected and are too close to I-70. Glenwood must not allow our residents and visitors to be at risk. We must move forward now.
If a separate Highway 82 bypass is to be studied, what are your thoughts on how best to accomplish that, and what is the city’s role?
Representatives of CDOT recently suggested to city staff that a visioning study be completed before moving forward. This study would gauge whether Glenwood residents think that mobility is an issue on Grand Avenue and whether they would be willing to pay for additional studies or the actual improvements.
However, this is a regional issue. The burden for paying for a study or a solution must be borne by more than the residents of Glenwood. Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties as well as municipalities from Parachute to Aspen to Eagle must be included in determining the solution, including funding.
The Corridor Optimization Study, the Corridor Optimization Plan and Comprehensive Plan have all addressed a need for a bypass, but the two looming issues are still location and funding. It is on the list of projects currently being ranked for the Long Range Transportation Plan.
In what other ways can the city address the impacts of traffic congestion in and around Glenwood Springs?
Connectivity. It is addressed in the 2011 Comprehensive Plan and the Corridor Optimization Study and Plan. Our streets, roads, trails and transit must be used more effectively. Glenwood and its regional partners must seek funding to create connections that allow easier movement through Glenwood without accessing Grand Avenue.
Additional connections include completion of South Bridge, a connection from Midland to 14th, and from Devereux Road to Midland as well as the Eighth Street connection. We must move forward with a plan for implementation.
Development of a Transportation Demand Management Plan & Strategies could help as well. TDM covers a broad spectrum including working with businesses, transit, bike and pedestrian solutions, rethinking parking and much more. Ride Glenwood must complement RFTA’s service reach into neighborhoods. Glenwood must make safety a priority and develop “fun” and convenient ways to get people out of their vehicles to enjoy all our city has to offer.
Is the proposed South Bridge connection to Highway 82 needed, and why?
Absolutely. This is critical for two reasons: safety and economy.
The main access and egress for south Glenwood and the Three Mile and Four Mile areas is along Midland Avenue. Midland Avenue has drainage and soil stability issues. A rock fall closing Midland could cut off hundreds of families from significant emergency services. In an emergency evacuation, this could be disastrous. Another viable route must be provided.
The second reason is economic. There is development potential for the area around the airport, up Four Mile corridor and even for Sunlight. In order to allow further development of this area, South Bridge is needed.
South Bridge is an expensive proposition. Again, this is a regional issue and the city must work closely with the county. It is likely this will need to be staged over the next five to 10 years, but we must keep moving forward.
What are your thoughts regarding the potential for redeveloping the Confluence area?
Redevelopment of the Confluence must take place. I will never forget Manette Anderson stating in a public meeting, “Please make this happen in my lifetime.” We are missing out on thousands of dollars in tax revenue. This could be a wonderful area celebrating our rivers. It is also an area that could provide much-needed housing options.
There are three roadblocks to making this happen at this time:
1. The Eighth Street Connection
2. Union Pacific Railroad
The city is working to move the Eighth Street connection forward. Union Pacific has requested the city bring the three design options to 30 percent design. While costly, the city is willing to do this to try to get approval for this connection. Also impacting this area is the proposed RFTA Access Control Plan currently under debate.
This is a complex issue, but one the city must pursue.
Does Glenwood Springs have a need for new housing development? If so, what types of housing and where should that occur?
New housing is absolutely needed for Glenwood Springs. Glenwood will grow. We want it to grow. We want a strong economy with a plentiful workforce. We need housing that suits all income types.
Housing trends are changing and moving to smaller more urban housing with easy access to stores, work and recreation. Something known as Missing Middle housing is needed in Glenwood. This could be duplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts or townhouses. These types could be easily accommodated in in-fill development or redevelopment of either commercial or residential areas and would increase vibrancy.
Additionally, Missing Middle housing is a viable option for a wide range of demographics from singles to families to retirees. It would provide the wonderful balance needed for housing in Glenwood Springs. Housing is also key to economic growth and sustainability. However, the city development code would need to be revised to accommodate this.
Should the city build and operate its own power plant to help make the city electric utility more self-sustaining? If so, what’s the most attractive generation source?
The city must do something to make the Electric Fund more viable. A 6 percent rate increase is being proposed and will come before council at the end of this month. As difficult as this is, it is a necessary step. The city has also authorized funds for a study to determine what is the most reasonable and feasible solution, and I fully support that decision.
It would appear that a natural gas generation facility would be the most financially feasible, although we should explore other options as well. The current city contract with Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is complicated and seems restrictive. MEAN will have a new executive director in June, which may provide a shift in philosophy, which may help.
It would also be worthwhile to look into geothermal potential and the use of the heat/energy being generated by the burning coal seam near South Canyon.
Name one other key issue facing the city, and how would you address it?
Recent studies indicate that jobs follow people. People are drawn to great places. The Community Development Department could be restructured into an Economic and Community Development Department. The combination of community and economic development is a good marriage.
The city must actively partner with the chamber and the county. Glenwood is behind, resulting in lost opportunities. This must be part of the strategic plan of Glenwood Springs.
While downtown is critical, we must not neglect the rest of our business community. Downtown Glenwood has its champions, and they are doing a marvelous job. Now we must extend that citywide. A key is partnering with and involving the business and land owners and residents in and near the secondary business centers in visioning and planning for their future. We need to help them see the possibilities and then look for ways to make these plans reality.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.