New Castle Town Council candidates talk public safety, future challenges during public forum
New Castle’s four candidates vying for town council focused on top issues like infrastructure and economic development during a public forum held at the New Castle Community Center on Thursday evening.
Moderated by New Castle Chamber of Commerce President Siobahn Milholm, incumbents Brandy Copeland and Bruce Leland joined first-time runner Caitlin Carey and write-in candidate Brooklyn Barkman in answering questions.
Copeland, elected in 2018, is finishing her first term on council. Leland, first elected in 2006, is finishing his fourth term on council.
There are currently three seats up for the April 5 election.
When it comes to how to bolster economic development in New Castle, Leland said the town needs to provide a comfortable place to attract new businesses.
“People are coming here, people are opening their businesses, and it’s because the town is welcoming — the council and the staff and the residents,” he said. “What we need to do to keep that going is patronize them.”
“Probably the best thing we can do as a community, as residents of New Castle, is to continue to support our local businesses.”
Copeland couldn’t find an easy answer, saying developers usually don’t pursue commercial interests even when platting in mixed use zones.
“I have no clue how to get developers to find value in New Castle,” she said. “I think it’s a great place, but every time a developer comes in, we ask, ‘Well, this is this mixed use, why aren’t you doing any commercial?’
“And they’re like, ‘We don’t think anybody wants to buy it. We want to build houses,’ so I have no idea.”
Carey offered that New Castle, which has grown by more than 1,000 people between 2010-2022, is beginning to turn from a bedroom community into more of an independent city, and that it needs to bring in more business locally.
“That will begin to support an opportunity for someone to come in; more places for lunch, more places to go shop boutiques,” Carey said.
“It’s time to start thinking about that now because we are beginning to carry our own weight.”
Barkman’s vision of sustaining economic development in New Castle hones in on how the city awards business licenses.
“When you’re responsible for giving out these business licenses, it’s important to understand the business owner as well,” Barkman said. “It’s just as important for filling that space. You don’t want to just hand them out willy nilly.”
“You have to have a strong business plan, and what are you willing to give back to the community?”
As New Castle continues to grow, the candidates were also asked to offer ways the town can better brace for population increases.
Carey said the two-lane roads running through parts of town and across Interstate 70 pose logistical challenges that need to be mitigated.
Carey spoke on a possibility of adding a roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Castle Valley Boulevard.
“Those are going to be things that we need to look at,” she said. “This roundabout is going to be fantastic.”
Carey also highlighted the town’s need to hire.
“We’re going to need to make sure that this town has more staff, that there are more police officers,” she said.
Looking toward the future, Copleand said the city has to meet funding challenges first in order to support additional infrastructure projects.
“I think things like tap fees and ways that the town is planning to pay for some of those things really didn’t bring enough money in,” Copeland said.
“Keeping in budget and funding money to pay for some of these things is going to be a challenge.”
With housing units continuing to be built in the area, Barkman said the town needs to find ways to pay for new infrastructure and to keep residents from long commutes for work.
“Housing is a crisis in the Valley. But, what sense does it make to put all these houses up if these people don’t have anywhere to work?” she said.
“We’ve seen the building permit price go up recently, which I think was genius,” she added. “It was kind of a way of creating some revenue, while also asking people to be thoughtful.”
Leland said the city recently went over an extensive list of major projects they want to complete.
“We’re looking forward to the time when we’re going to have to do that and we’re planning now how we’re going to fund it,” he said.
Leland spoke of funds coming from the Colorado Department of Transportation for the roundabout project, as well as widening the bridge crossing Interstate 70.
With a growing population, that should help bring in more funds, Leland said.
“If we double again, we’re going to have as many full-time residents as Glenwood Springs. That’s huge,” he said. “That will bring some businesses in.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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