Betsy L. McLaughlin
Palisade Basecamp RV Resort front office
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel circulation – carrier
How long have you lived in Palisade?
Why are you running for a position on the Town Board?
I consider myself to be a permanent resident of Palisade, this is home. I moved here
from a mountain town that, when I moved there in 1975, had dirt streets, boardwalk sidewalks, and a one-season economy. The town is now a four-season world class ski resort but, unfortunately, has grown beyond what I feel is a comfortable size for the permanent residents. Palisade seems to be facing many of the same challenges; there is a desire and possibilities for growth but a limited desire for change. I would like to be involved in the discussions and possibly offer some insights into ‘Smart Growth’ as opposed to runaway growth. Although I am not a member of the local web group ‘Citizens for Smart Growth’, I do believe in well-thought-out possibilities for growth in Palisade that we can ALL live with.
Are you willing to commit to attending a majority of the Town Board meetings, missing only in extreme cases?
YES, YES, YES!!! I have attended almost every meeting of the Board of Trustees, the Planning Commission, the Tourism Advisory Board and the Parks and Recreation Board (no longer a working Board) for the past seven or eight years. I used to put the Palisade Tribune together every week, and began attending all the meetings at that time, and have kept on attending. As a six-year member of the Planning Commission, I have found it to be very valuable to attend the other meetings as well.
I have a 93-year-old father living in Phoenix that I run down to see every few months but have always managed to work the trips around the different meetings each month.
Are you ready to put the time in to read and understand the packets prior to meetings and doing the other work required?
YES, I have been a long-time member of the Planning Commission and regularly read through the packets for both Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees before each of the meetings in preparation for attending and summarizing the meetings for a local website. I am aware that the Board members also sit on committees of outside Boards around the county and would have no problem attending other meetings as well.
How many Town Board meetings have you attended to date?
I have attended truly dozens of Town Board meetings over the last seven or eight years, usually counting on one hand the number missed each year. The Town of Palisade has become
my ‘hobby’ over time and I do not miss meetings of any of the boards unless absolutely necessary.
What are the big issues that Palisade is facing?
My most important issue would be the amount and type of growth that is encouraged.
Through the past years, one of the main comments of citizens giving ‘Public Comment’ at Board meetings is that they moved here because of the small-town feel of Palisade and DO NOT want any change. While I have often felt the same way, this is America, after all, and we cannot lock the doors to new residents and businesses. The challenge is to balance the need for new tax revenues in order to keep up and improve town services, and still have some control over what building is encouraged and where it is welcome and allowed to keep the small-town feel of Palisade.
How are you presently involved in the community of Palisade?
As previously mentioned, I attend the meetings of all the official committees and boards
including the Board of Trustees, the Planning Commission and the Tourism Advisory Board. Since the Palisade Tribune closed a few years ago, I have contributed to a website called PeachTownNews.com, sponsored by the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. I post summaries of the Town Board and other committee meetings and short stories on anything else that I have time to cover. I have served on the Planning Commission for the past six years, two as the Chairperson. I attend the annual Bluegrass Festival religiously, and get to the other town events and festivals as my work schedule allows.
What would you do to promote economic development in Palisade?
The first thing we need to do is to overhaul the Comprehensive Plan. The last revision
was in 2007 and it is outdated. The conclusions drawn by the revised Comp Plan would give direction to future economic development. Since much of the Comp Plan overhaul will depend on community input, I would do as much as I could to encourage community participation in questionnaires, open houses and Board meetings while the process was taking place.
What intrigues you about Palisade history? How does it apply to Palisade’s future?
When I worked for the Palisade Tribune, one of the most interesting parts of the job was the ‘back room’ where the old issues of the Tribune were stored. We had almost every issue since the paper began publishing back in the very early 1900s. The articles and photos were fascinating, and since we did an article in the Tribune each week using the old issues of the Tribune, I got to read a lot of Palisade history. What I was most aware of was that Palisade is a town full of PEOPLE, and the connections between the residents are what has always interested me most. The implication for the future would be to continue to consider all the different PEOPLE in Palisade, both the old-timers as well as the new residents and try to balance the often competing desires of each group to keep our town growing and becoming a better place to live.
What do you see in Palisade’s future?
I see managed growth, in both housing and resident numbers and in business
development. An expanding tax base would allow the Town to provide more improvements and services (repaving streets, building sidewalks, addition of recreational opportunities through park expansions and classes offered, more amenities like public restrooms and bikeways etc.) while controlling growth through the zoning and Land Development Code requirements.
I think there are also great possibilities for directing marketing efforts to the ski towns, the locals are itching to get into some sunny, warm weather as early as possible, usually in March, and there are also a number of ski town business owners whose children have grown up and left and are looking for a new place to either retire or to re-open their tourist-centered businesses. I see people abandoning the Front Range chaos and heading west instead!
What would you do to guide/direct it?
One of the most important projects coming up is the overhaul of Palisade’s
Comprehensive Plan. Since it was last researched in 2007, unexpected changes in the economy have made the current plan less than useful in guiding growth. I would like very much to be involved with the Comp Plan overhaul, paying specific attention to zoning and development goals.