Feb 262009
Authors: Matt Minich

Though he said he feels he accomplished much during his first term in city council, Ben Manvel, a retired CSU mathematics professor whose tenure spans 34 years, will go head-to-head with Vivian Armendariz and Ken Anderson in the district 1 race this April.

Manvel’s district, which spans the area of Fort Collins east of College Avenue and south of East Douglas Road, still faces challenges, he said.

Manvel said he takes pride in the professionalism and teamwork displayed by his fellow council members during his first term representing district 1 and cited the preservation of the city economic health and the restructuring of its budget as successes.

During his first term, Manvel said that the council hired the city’s first chief financial officer, Mike Freeman, and subsidized the Rocky Mountain Innovation Initiative, a local non-profit that provides facilities and networking opportunities to local technology entrepreneurs.

The council also restructured the city’s development review process, Manvel said, making a process that had formerly taken weeks a “one-stop shop.”

Despite his work in helping to implement a new recycling center and more energy efficient city vehicles in Fort Collins, Manvell said environment issues are still a concern.

“I think it’s important that we raise serious issues about Glade Reservoir,” he said, referencing the project that is set to divert water from the Poudre River into a reservoir north of Fort Collins, benefiting 13 communities in Larimer County.

Though those in favor of the project cite job creation and water storage implementation as its benefits, it has faced opposition from many in the Fort Collins community, as the reservoir will not directly benefit Fort Collins.

Environmentalists have expressed concerns that it risks damage to the Poudre River, and Manvel went on to say that it may have serious affects on the economy and quality of life within Fort Collins. The Glade Reservoir will store mostly floodwater from the Poudre, which has a high mineral content.

Water from the project could be stored within Horsetooth Reservoir, reducing water quality for the entire city, and that poor water quality would affect not only residents but also Fort Collins’ many microbreweries, Manvel said.

“Good water makes good beer,” he said, adding that high-water quality is part of the reason Fort Collins has attracted so many microbreweries.

Armendariz, one of Manvel’s opposition, is a local advocate for the disabled and said she has attended nearly every city council meeting in the last year.

Armendariz said Manvel has failed to reach out to the underprivileged Hispanic community within his own district and she hopes to change that.

“I’m unhappy about how (Manvel is) running his district,” she said.

Manvel, however, argued that he has been actively meeting with residents regarding their concerns over a proposed music venue near New Belgium brewery in a largely Hispanic neighborhood.

Locals worried that the venue, proposed by the Bohemian Foundation, would increase noise and traffic in their neighborhood. Work on the venue has been stopped due to a combination of complaints and economic concerns, Manvel said.

“I’m not sure Vivian really knows about my outreach to underprivileged Hispanics,” Manvel said.

Armendariz is the first candidate in this election who lives below the poverty line, she said. She hopes to raise awareness on issues that affect residents who are less fortunate or disabled, such as the exterior maintenance code, which sets standards on the condition of lawns, fences and porches in Fort Collins. Homeowners who do not maintain their property to these standards are subject to citations.

This code is unfair to residents who cannot afford or are physically unable to maintain their property, Armendariz said.

Armendariz said that she wants to create a better outreach program between permanent Fort Collins residents and CSU students to alleviate tension and reach a compromise on issues such as the three-unrelated ordinance, called U+2, which mandates that no more than three unrelated persons can live in the same house unless given special zoning permission.

“A lot of people cringe when August comes,” Armendariz said of the struggle to find housing that could accommodate the U+2 ordinance.

Ken Anderson, the third candidate in District 1 and a local realtor, did not return the Collegian’s multiple calls for comment but said in a statement that he intended to bring new, high-paying jobs to Fort Collins if elected.

CSU students that wereinterviewed agreed that the three-unrelated ordinance, the Glade Reservoir proposal and transportation were issues they felt were most important in the race for city council.

Some students said that they felt distanced from local politics but that they wanted to be more involved, and many students said candidates were most likely to gain student support by making contacts on the CSU campus.

“The biggest thing you can do is talk on campus,” said Elle Wheat, a senior wildlife biology major.

City council elections beat writer Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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