- Published on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 15:37
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Jim Chiarello, Tim Curtin, Tommy Edwards and Wanda Goforth are running for Town Council.
There are four open seats for Colonial Beach Town Council and only four candidates running. All candidates are listed on the ballot.
Tim Curtin, Jim Chiarello and Tommy Edwards are all incumbents vying for their own seats.
Councilman Burkett Lyburn has chosen not to run for re-election for his seat on council but at the last minute announced he is running for Mayor as a write-in candidate.
So newcomer Wanda Goforth who is also listed on the ballot will fill Lyburn’s vacant seat after the election.
Although none of the seats are being challenged and it is highly unlikely a candidate will show up on election day and win as a write in, the council candidates still conducted a forum, giving the public a chance to get to know them better.
Edwards spoke of the lack of interest during his opening remarks at the Council candidates forum, co-hosted by Carrey Geddes of the Chamber of Commerce and Peter Fahrney of the Colonial Beach Foundation. “All I can tell you is this, you’d better take a good look up here. There is nobody here beating down the bush to come up here and take our place, so this is what you got. We’re going to do our best for this town. Look up here folks, this is what you get.”
The three incumbents were all appointed within the last year so citizens have only had a short time to get to know them.
All candidates support an independent school system and felt the mayor should have an office in town hall.
When asked to name one project the current and past council has not addressed, Curtin said the boardwalk, Edwards said Eleanor Trailer Park, Chiarello mentioned a Town center and Goforth felt the council has failed to effectively address infrastructure and retain green spaces.
All candidates support restructuring committee membership to include the appointment of town citizens.
The candidates were asked if they would support an anchor business at the end of Colonial Avenue as suggested in the revitalization plan.
Curtin and Edwards indicated a hotel/conference center would be a logical replacement for the hotel, currently known as the Beach Inn. But no one seemed to indicate that an anchor be placed in the area described.
Chiarello however felt that there are too many unfinished projects and said the town should focus on plans already in the works.
Goforth said a hotel/conference center is needed but not necessarily where the Beach Inn is located or on the beach. Goforth said “careful consideration needs to be given to any new projects of development.”
All candidates support the current council-manager form of government in which the council appoints a town manager to perform the day-to-day operations of the town and oversees the staff. Current council members took this opportunity to compliment the Town Manager Val Foulds.
The candidates were asked what they thought would be the best resolution for Eleanor Trailer park.
Chiarello said, “You have to give citizens a choice then you can ask them to vote on it. We need to give clear choices that can be done.”
Goforth supports a referendum. “It should be a simple question such as “Do you want it to be sold?”
Curtin explained, “There are two things you ask a council to do, follow the law and make reasonable decisions without emotions. Eleanor Park has become an emotional issue. You put us here to make decisions without emotions. If you have a referendum every time you need to make a decision there is no use for a council.”
Curtin said that the council has referred the matter back to the planning commission. “We have to do what is in accordance with the law. That’s what you put us here to do.”
Edwards said three options were brought up at a public comment on the subject: homes, a referendum or open space.
Edwards said that some suggestions can’t be used. For example some homeowners are concerned if homes aren’t put there the value of their homes would be in jeopardy. Edwards agreed with Curtin that council is put there to make the hard decisions.
When asked what they felt would be the best use of the property personally all candidates, but Edwards, were in favor of a park but each had very unique ideas on what should go in it. Curtin would like to see it dedicated to physical fitness, Chiarello wants a spray park with a trail and pavilions dedicated by businesses as well as grills.
Edwards is in favor of building new homes on the site.
All candidates supported the proposal by the Paul Stephen foundation to repair and use the Klotz building on Irving Avenue as a home for pregnant mothers.
Chiarello, Goforth and Curtin support the idea of having an ethics committee led by the citizens and appointed by the council.
Edwards however is reluctant to form one. “I would hope it was chaired by one or two of the council. Ethics is a very serious situation. We need to be very careful who we pick.”
When asked, Do you think we can maintain and repair the water and sewer infrastructure without raising taxes? Goforth said, “I think we can try but we need to cut costs. I’m tired of coming to the meetings and hearing the council raised taxes or water fees.”
Curtin said, “I don’t think it’s inevitable but it’s possible. We’re being confronted with the net result of a lot of indecisions and poor decisions that have accumulated over a period of time. Yes we had to raise the water part of your bill by a small amount, to get us out of a hole.” Curtin said that he could not predict if taxes or fees will go up again. “Everything that has gone wrong in this town can be traced back to when we bought up the boardwalk.”
Edwards said, “We need to hire a new employee, mandated by the state, but not funded by the state.” Edwards said it takes money to get these things accomplished and ended by saying, “If you want open green space then don’t wonder why taxes are raised.”
Chiarello said that unfortunately raising taxes is inevitable. “There are a lot of reasons for that. We have lost opportunities which we need to try to gain back.” Chiarello disagreed with Edwards on the cost of keeping Eleanor Park open. “Green spaces are important; it’s not going to cost a lot to keep that green space.”
Edwards, Chiarello and Goforth all support a historic designation within the town, without reservations.
Curtin has reservations. He said, “I think it is worth exploring but the only concern is caveats that may restrict use.”
All candidates support the Revitalization Plan.