Grocery store a key issue at Silt candidate forum
SILT — Each of the four candidates running for the town board attempted, at times, to lay out their unique vision for the town Tuesday evening, but the need to land a grocery store or some similar business was one issue all the candidates repeatedly agreed on.
The desire to see a grocery store, or as candidate Paul Taylor, a former Silt trustee and police chief, said, an anchor retail business, was far from the only thing the candidates agreed on at a forum hosted by the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce.
However, the need for a grocery store persisted throughout the nearly 90-minute forum as a key issue to increasing the sales tax base for the town, which the candidates said was necessary for improving infrastructure and other quality-of-life needs.
A grocery store would create a domino effect, said Kenneth (T.J.) Tucker, who was appointed to a vacant seat on the board last fall. It starts with a grocery store, and then leads to a bank or fast food restaurant coming to town, he added.
To that point, candidate Dina Prieto said she agreed, and echoed Taylor’s statement concerning the need to keep sales tax dollars in the town, rather than have that money spent in Rifle, New Castle or another neighboring municipality.
Keith Richel, who was first elected to the board four years ago, said a grocery store has to be the No. 1 economic development priority for the town. He referenced a recently updated demand analysis that concluded there is still a significant amount of retail potential leaking outside of the town.
The topic is nothing new, Taylor said, adding that there have been talks of a grocery store since he moved to Silt in 1987. But it’s been all talk and no results.
Bringing a grocery store to Silt was cited as a crucial part of overall economic development in the town during a 2014 candidate forum, although a report from that time pointed to disagreement among some candidate as to the preferred method for attracting a store.
Taylor on Tuesday seemed critical of the desire to locate a grocery store on town-owned parcels next to the Kum and Go. Rather than waste money on a swamp — a reference to the wetlands and mitigation required — Taylor suggested there were plenty of other locations that could be looked at. He also suggested alternatives to the typical large chain grocery store, such as a Wal-mart convenience store, or as he called it, “a mini Wal-mart.”
Richel said that the grocery store was a more complicated issue than some people seem to think, but he and Tucker stated their optimism that the town was making progress.
Richel pointed to the fact that the town recently changed its approach, and rather than only reaching out to grocery stores, the town also is contacting commercial developers that could potentially construct a building to house a store.
“We’re knocking on two doors instead of one.. hopefully we can knock one of those doors down,” he said.
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