Beginning our candidate-elect series, Ark Valley Voice sat down with P.T. Wood, the current Salida mayor, and now mayor-elect for another term for the City of Salida.
P.T. Wood has resided in Salida for nearly 30 years, playing an active role in the community through many different outlets. Wood was voted into office in the November 2017 election. Running unopposed in this election, Wood will now serve his second term as the Mayor of the City of Salida. Wood says he hopes to carry out the current council plans, including comprehensive planning processes, as well as creating new visions for the community.
- What is your favorite part about Salida?
“Oh, I love everything. I would probably say the folks that live here are great people, really nice and fun to be around.”
- What has been your role in the community (jobs/occupations, volunteer positions, committees, etc.)
“That’s a big question! I’ve done everything from being a river guide, to owning a bunch of different businesses, to building houses — you name it. I moved here in the late 80s. I’ve seen a lot of change. When I moved here, the mines were closing, and the railroads were pulling out. People were leaving here, with not much going on in this little town. It has definitely changed significantly, and now I’m a contributing member of society and the mayor.
“In that time here I have been on the citizen’s task force for the headwaters recreation area, the town’s planning commission, on the board of the River Trust when we were first getting the river park going, and a Rotarian. So — a ton of different things.”
- What do you hope your new role (or continuing in your role) will do for the community?
“What I’m really hoping for over the next couple of years, is to start implementing some of the planning that we have been doing over the last couple of years. Then [I want to] finish up some of the other planning that we have coming up; like Vandaveer, the Parks, Trails, Recreation and Open Space Plan, things like that.
“There will be a good push over the next couple of years to be looking at sustainability and resiliency in our community and determining what it means and what it looks like for the community. But all the while, ensuring we are maintaining our Salida character. Making sure the folks that want to live here can live here. Making sure the folks that work here can live here. And then making sure we are not a community that becomes ‘loved to death. [I want to] make sure that doesn’t happen to Salida. In looking at the sustainability piece, we will be looking at a Climate Action Plan.”
- The Envision survey highlighted community desires. Please pick one (housing, workforce, short-term rentals) and tell us about your ideas and strategies to better resolve the issue in the community.
“Housing for sure. Housing, especially affordable housing is a big issue, which goes back to that Salida character piece. If the folks that work in town can’t live in town, then at the end of the day they disappear, and it becomes visitors standing around wondering where the cool people they heard live in this town went. That’s a big, big one.
“I think in our inclusionary housing ordinance that we [passed] last year we will start to see the effect of that this year. With the development that we have, there are about 50 units that will be supplied through that inclusionary ordinance. Whether those are actual doors or [a] fee instead, is yet to be determined. We are also trying to figure out how we can work with Habitat for Humanity and the Chaffee Housing Trust and give them some shovel-ready properties so they can get some buildings going up in the short term.
“It’s a community-wide effort. There is no one solution to that affordable housing problem. A thousand solutions will add up to one big solution.”
- Respondents to the Envision survey raised the topic of newcomers. What are your thoughts on welcoming newcomers, and how can you connect them to the City of Salida’s history?
“There’s always going to be new people moving to town, no matter what town you’re in. If there are not new people moving into town, that probably means people are leaving your town, and you don’t have the amenities that draw them, which allows you to survive and thrive. You can’t force people to go out and participate in the community. What you can do is provide active opportunities for folks to participate … leading by example, doing good stuff and being a contributing member in the community. That inspires other people to go out and do the same thing. Making sure folks feel welcomed when they move here, that will inspire them to make connections and to get out and get more involved.
“It’s not an easy place to live or even find a place to live. It’s a place that tends to attract interesting folks who may be a more go-getter type.”
- What does the word collaboration mean to you?
“Working together [Wood chuckled as he answered this question]. “The Colorado Mountain College (CMC) effort I think is a good example of collaboration. If voters approve the annexation and they come into our community, then we will be working with them — the schools, Boys and Girls Club, a bunch of different entities — to try and provide the services that folks need. Recreation services are being met by the schools right now, but their facilities are full. We now need to figure out where to host some of these activities.
“When-if CMC comes in, they will have recreational needs, Salida has recreational needs, the Boys and Girls Club needs a new facility. We need more room for some of our recreation programs, gymnastics and karate, for instance. So in working together with the schools and CMC, the city, the Boys and Girls Club, the seniors, and the early childcare folks will need to come together. Have a facility that is multi-use and multi-generational that is a more community-wide facility instead of just a school facility or CMC facility or multiple and redundant facilities.”
- What keeps you up at night?
Chuckling again, Wood answered, “Lately, not a whole lot. Although, the economy right now is a little scary and it seems there might be a little of a slowdown coming. What happens if there is a slowdown? Being a community that is reliant on sales tax, if people aren’t spending as much money, the city doesn’t have as much income. This makes it harder to achieve some of the goals that the city has. I’m a little nervous about that.
“We are in really good financial shape right now, and we have the money to weather a recession, so [as a city] we are fine. But if there is one, we would have to cut back on some of our goals and aspirations in the coming years.”