Berthoud Trustee-elect Mike Grace focused on service and smart planning
By Dan Karpiel
For Mike Grace, it’s all about service.
As the soon to be Berthoud trustee, who spent more than 30 minutes with the Surveyor at Kofe House Saturday morning explained, “I’ve always been taught from a young age to help people. I learned that helping people usually pans out better for everybody, that’s why I decided to throw my hat in the ring.”
Grace, who one of the three new trustees who will officially take office next month, is a married father of one (soon to be two), an Eagle Scout and a graduate of Colorado State University. Grace explained that he will approach his job as a trustee with open ears and an open mind, always remaining dedicated to doing what is in the best interests of the town.
He takes the term representative literally. “Our jobs as a trustee is to listen and to serve the town as best we can,” Grace said. “I know when I’m up there I am more than willing to listen to my constituents, I’m more than willing to listen to the town, if they want this I’ll say ‘alright, I’m going to go look into it and we’ll figure out how we’re going to get this to happen,’ and it can only happen if everyone works together.”
Grace explained he believes the current board has their heart in the right place on many of the issues that come before it but that too often, he believes, decisions have been rushed without taking the necessary time to examine things from multiple angles, gather input from a wide array of sources and think long term.
Grace highlighted the recent growth in Berthoud is an example of how some decisions can be rushed but he always quick to point out that is not against growth. “It takes a lot of listening to the people, we need to make sure to take our time, a lot of bad decisions happen when things are knee-jerk, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but if it’s not going to last two weeks while we do some more research then it probably wasn’t going to last in the first place, let’s take our time, let’s plan the growth accordingly,” Grace explained.
“Pushing stuff through without due diligence, without appropriate listening, yes it’s going to take more time, yes it’s going to mean more meetings but that’s what we got elected to deal with,” He continued.
Grace said he is concerned that rapid growth could lead to unforeseen problems down the road, particularly in the area of infrastructure requirements, something he has witnessed in other municipalities along the Front Range. “I’ve lived in a lot of places up and down the front range and this one is very special and it’s something I want to protect, make sure it doesn’t go the way of everybody else in becoming too big too quick.”
“Growth is fine as long as it’s maintained appropriately, as long as the infrastructure is there to support it. Berthoud is a very special place and I want to make sure it’s protected; I want to keep the culture,” Grace said. “I just want to make sure we do it right, I don’t want to build everything up and then all of a sudden we don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have the sewers, we don’t have the roads, we don’t have the sidewalks, we don’t have the public facilities because that will hurt us more than anything else.”
Grace said that “doing it right” requires the board and town administration to plan with a long-term vision in mind, assuring that infrastructure needs exceed requirements, even if by substantial margins. “I’m a big fan of over-engineering the infrastructure, I’d rather have enough water for twice the population than the other way around, I’d rather have roads that can support us more than we need,” he said.
The recent decision by the town to move forward with the recreation center and other amenities at the Waggener Farm Park property was another example Grace pointed to of a rushed decision. Grace stated that the voters spoke clearly that they wanted increased recreational opportunities bypassing the sales tax measure, which Grace himself supported. Yet he said the voters were also clear that they did not want the town taking on massive debt to construct the facility immediately.
“I think it was rushed. Now, no one is opposed to a rec center in and of itself, we voted for a tax increase to fund recreation,” Grace said. “You have to listen to the community, the community was OK raising taxes but (said) take your time, let’s not go into debt over this, because there was no real reason to go into debt over this, we can take our time, we can plan this out, be thoughtful about it, but that’s not what happened.”
Grace said that is what he wants to bring to the board – to be someone who listens to the constituents, gathers as much input from as many different sources as possible and takes a measured approach when it comes to decision-making, even though doing so may take a little more time.
“I’ve always believed your work ethic is your bestselling point; doing the right thing, that’s what should sell you, not how many posters or ads you can take out. People respond to action, words are cheap. Anybody can grandstand, it’s not hard to grandstand, but I would rather be authentic, be genuine, be transparent, there’s nothing that goes on that I won’t be willing to discuss,” Grace said. “I am encouraged to do my best and excited to learn and be a positive influence on the town.”
Grace and the new town board will be sworn in this April.
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