Thomas C. Eddy
Candidate for: Sandpoint City Council
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: Starting my 4th year as resident.
Marital status/family: Married with two children at Washington Elementary.
The Colorado College, B.A. English 1995
Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Ski Patrol - Sandpoint, ID
Black Tie Ski Rentals, Owner - Vail, Colo.
Eddy Foods, LLC, Operations Manager - Vail, Colo.
Eagle County School District, 8th Grade English - Edwards, Colo.
What particular experiences or skills qualify you for office?
Having lived in the Vail Valley for almost twenty years, I have seen how a resort town can lose its character and sight of the people who chose to call it home.
1. Among the myriad issues facing the city at present, what do you consider the single most important issue, and why? Please also describe any other issues you feel are important.
For me, I cringe every time I pass an empty storefront downtown and as a result, business development of the core is a major issue for me. How do we create an environment that provides opportunities all year instead of just a few key parts? Other issues for me involve the Curve and reclamation of First Avenue, providing our youth with opportunities to succeed (education, art, sports, etc.), and developing a stronger identity between Sandpoint and Schweitzer.
2. The city is on the cusp of major change with the Sand Creek bypass nearing completion and likely to be open for traffic ahead of schedule. Concurrently, city officials have been working with the Idaho Transportation Department to facilitate a realignment of Highways 2/200 from Pine to Cedar along the route of the old railroad line, the so-called “Curve.” Following workshops and public hearings, in September the Council approved a couplet concept for the realignment, and ITD is now undertaking final design. Do you favor or oppose the Curve project and design, and why? What issues do you see arising for the city from the construction and completion of these two major changes to local transportation infrastructure?
For the most part, I do support the design and implementation of the Curve Project. Rerouting through trafﬁc efﬁciently is a key aspect as well as minimal impact on existing business and residential structures. Roundabouts can be an extremely effective means of directing trafﬁc with many beneﬁts: reduced emissions, improved safety, and aesthetics. Construction of the Curve itself will provide many challenges and headaches not limited to noise, rerouting of utilities, trafﬁc congestion, etc. On the ﬂip side, it should provide more employment opportunities. We need to ensure a smooth ﬂow of vehicular and pedestrian trafﬁc and that the project adds value to our community without taking anything away.
3. The city's Impact Fee Advisory Committee recently reviewed the city's impact fee structure for recommendations to the city council. Impact fees are levied on new development to help offset costs the development imposes on public infrastructure and services. Do you feel that the city's current fee structure is equitable or would you advocate changes, and why?
The current impact fees provide us with a standardized system that should maintain an equitable responsibility between both the city and development. We need to ensure that any development relying on city resources and services assist in their funding.
4. Following two public hearings, on a 4-2 vote the City Council recently approved purchase of the first of two parcels of lakefront property at $400,000 each, in cooperation with the City of Ponderay and a nonprofit group to acquire nearly a mile of waterfront and create the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail over a four-year period. Do you favor or oppose the trail acquisition, and why?
Five years ago, this price for undeveloped lakefront property would have been viewed by most as a steal. Under current conditions, it does seem a little steep. At the same time, who can place a price tag on keeping this property basically undeveloped? The Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail will provide children, families, commuters and many others the chance to enjoy our lake, its natural beauty, and our area's history. I also think that the trail will serve as a valuable tool for attracting future business to the city.
5. The city in 2009 adopted major changes to its comprehensive plan. The city’s planning staff and commission has since been reworking zoning regulations to carry out the comprehensive plan, including newly proposed changes for residential zoning. Are you satisfied with the new comprehensive plan and zoning regulations? Describe your own posture toward managing growth in Sandpoint.
The city's Comprehensive Plan is a valuable tool to help the city develop in a responsible manner. Visit other cities in the region and most of what you see is sprawl; it is difﬁcult to discern the character because there is none. Keeping a strong central core with mixed-use and commercial interests is essential in supporting the city and allowing it to maintain the traits that make it Sandpoint. Zoning requirements will support the feel of individual neighborhoods and outlying properties while offering many different housing opportunities.
6. The mayor and city staff have been participating with Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency and Downtown Sandpoint Business Association in an economic revitalization effort called Sandpoint Forward. How would you describe the economy of Sandpoint today? What role do you see for the City Council/Mayor to play in creating a healthy local economy?
Unfortunately, Sandpoint's economy reﬂects that of our country as a whole. Some businesses are doing quite well while others struggle to keep the doors open. SURA and DSBA deserve a lot of credit for the USA Today/Rand McNally award of “Most Beautiful Town.” Companies such as Litehouse, Quest, Coldwater Creek and others prove that our area can support major corporations that play an active role in preserving the town. City Council can further support revitalization efforts by following the Comprehensive Plan and managing growth in a predictable and responsible manner, always making sure that growth reﬂects our history and preserves our character.
7. The City Council in September approved an ordinance banning hands-on cell phone use while driving. Do you favor or oppose the ordinance?
I am in support of anything that helps protect my children while they're riding their bikes or walking down the sidewalk. It's a matter of common sense. Multitasking and driving do not mix.
8. Segways: The city police tested them this summer for use in downtown parking enforcement. What do you think of Segways for use by city police?
I would rather see the Sandpoint Police increase their bicycle ﬂeet - cheap in comparison to both purchase and maintain.
9. Describe any other issues you believe are important; why you consider them important; and your position on these issues.
It would be fabulous to see a combination Recreation/Youth/Wellness Center in town. Pedestrian and bicycle safety - solid steps have been taken but we need more tools, education, and awareness. As a former educator and current father, supporting the arts, education and recreation for our children is of utmost importance to me.
10. How many city council meetings or city committee meetings have you attended in the past year? Why are you running for public office?
You can sit on the sidelines and complain or you can take the chance and try to make a difference. This is my shot at hopefully making a positive difference in our community.