Serving Berthoud: Mayor Karspeck on growing up in Berthoud, his first term in office, and goals for the next four years
By Katie Harris
Will Karspeck never imagined he’d be elected mayor of Berthoud at only 31 years old, but since taking office two years ago he’s been loving every minute of it. A Berthoud resident since toddlerhood, Karspeck said he’s proud to have called the town his home for as long as he can remember.
“Growing up here was great,” he said. “It was the kind of community where you got to know everyone, got along with everyone, and never felt isolated.”
As a kid the mayor, who attended Berthoud schools in middle and high school, confessed in good humor that he was a far cry from a good student.
“I loved school and loved learning,” he said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t pay attention, I just never turned my homework in on time.”
A skateboarder, BMX bike rider, track runner and soccer player throughout his teen years, Karspeck said tongue in cheek that one of his greatest achievements was being crowned “Mr. Spartan” his junior year of high school after performing a dazzling rendition of Pocahontas.
Karspeck developed an interest in serving his community at a young age—his parents were members of the Berthoud Tree Board in the early 1990s, after which his father, Milan, served on the town board for close to 15 years, including eight as mayor.
“My dad served as mayor during the most formative years of my life, and that’s how I connected with him,” said Karspeck. “Some families talk sports around the kitchen table, we talked town politics.”
For Karspeck, seeing the things his father accomplished on the town board piqued his interest in following in his parent’s footsteps on the path to becoming a civil servant.
In 2016, a year shy of his 30th birthday, Karspeck was elected to serve on the town board. Two years later he was ushered into the position of mayor by a two-thirds majority vote, following Steve Mulvihill’s resignation.
Though not a requirement of the position, Karspeck chose to take time off from his career and focus solely on his position as mayor.
“As mayor you can do as little or as much as you want, but I wanted to dive right in,” he said. “Between conferences and regional meetings during the day and a lot of evening commitments, I couldn’t really do this and have a career, so I chose to put my career on the sidelines.”
Upon taking office, the mayor said his first item of business was to reestablish trust between the town board and its residents by looking into issues of top concern within the community.
“People were frustrated with growth, with their water bills, with development requirements and planning and zoning,” he said. “I wanted to look into all these things and make sure they were where we wanted them to be.”
In addition to taking an active interest in needs brought to his attention by residents, Karspeck began tackling issues close to his own heart.
“One of my proudest achievements has been making the Emerald Ash Borer treatment a priority for the town,” he said. “I’ve also been working on establishing a better relationship with Berthoud’s Rural Alternative for Transportation program (RAFT) to make sure everyone has access to transportation.”
While Karspeck said he is excited about how much he and his team have accomplished in a short amount of time, he acknowledged that there have been challenges along the way.
“The last few years there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the recreation center,” he said. “The issue created a lot of friction in the community and I faced personal attacks from some people, but I’ve tried to be consistent in taking the high road and setting a good example, rather than reciprocating.”
Another area of contention in recent years has been the amount and speed of growth the town can maintain. While many see continued rapid growth as a necessity, Karspeck disagrees.
“Some people see our size as a weakness, and think we’ll be better off once we grow,” he said. “I see our size as a strength. Fundamentally, the difference between us and other municipalities is that we’re a community with true heart. We’re not a suburb and no longer a commuter town, we’re very much alive, with a downtown, and active school and community programs.”
Karspeck said moving forward, the town needs to think carefully about what direction to take in terms of growth, and be cautious about growing too quickly. The topic will soon be at the forefront of conversation when the town’s 2020 comprehensive plan update is unveiled.
“My primary goal right now is to get our comprehensive plan update completed and in front of the community,” he said. “This will give citizens the opportunity to dictate how they want the town to grow and what they want to see, and it will give elected officials the chance to listen and provide guidance where appropriate.”
Brainstorming solutions to Berthoud’s looming water crisis will also be at the top of Karspeck’s agenda in coming years.
“The amount we’re charging for water will not be sustainable going forward,” he said. “We have to get on top of our water fees, and with the region becoming increasingly dryer we need to make sure we have ample reserves.”
Metro districts, oil and gas regulations, a planned mixed-use development near Interstate-25, and the opportunity for Berthoud to pioneer Northern Colorado’s first commuter rail are also on Karspeck’s radar.
In addition, he hopes to connect Berthoud’s trail system with Loveland’s, creating one trail from Berthoud to Fort Collins, and to make Berthoud itself more pedestrian-friendly.
“In the next four years I really want to focus on making the town a more sustainable community, and more in line with the environmental changes going on in the world right now,” he said. “I’d like to encourage more walking and biking around town, something I did as a kid, and with a whole myriad of benefits from improved physical health and quality of life to less wear on the roads.”
Karspeck began meeting with professionals from surrounding municipalities last fall, to inspect sidewalks and roads and discuss options for improving accessibility, but said there is still more work to be done.
As the sole candidate for mayor in this year’s upcoming election, Karspeck will have another four years to continue working toward his goals.
“I hope people see me as an approachable person who will get things done,” he said. “I want to build a track record of sticking to my guns even when I catch flak for it, voting for what I think is right, even when it’s controversial, and never blowing people off.
“Berthoud is and always has been a great community, a great place to live and a great place to raise a family. I love taking the time to see what’s new with the citizens in the community and how I can help.”
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