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Incline, parking top discussion points at Manitou Springs candidate forum

October 20, 2015 Updated: October 20, 2015 at 6:17 pm
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photo - Overuse of the Manitou Incline and whether fees should be charged for its use have been hot topics in the Manitou Springs mayoral race.
File photo by Carol Lawrence/The Gazette.
Overuse of the Manitou Incline and whether fees should be charged for its use have been hot topics in the Manitou Springs mayoral race. File photo by Carol Lawrence/The Gazette. 

Briarhurst Manor Estate had a full house Monday night for a Manitou Springs candidate forum hosted by the Pikes Peak Bulletin.

Residents asked City Council and mayoral candidates about overuse of the Manitou Incline, unbearable downtown parking, marijuana and how the city can attract more diversity, among other issues.

Norman "Paotie" Dawson was the only one of seven candidates for three at-large City Council seats who said the Incline should not have fees. Parking is the real issue for the popular fitness trail, he said.

Candidates Donna Ford, at-large council member, and David Walker said the Incline needs public bathrooms.

Walker also suggested putting a parking garage on Ruxton Avenue or near the Stage Coach Inn.

Mayoral candidates Coreen Toll, Ward 2 City Council representative and mayor pro tem, and Nicole Nicoletta, Ward 3 City Council representative, previously voiced support for regulating the Incline to limit use and charge fees to help cover maintenance.

They discussed those issues again Monday, as well as the similarly hot-button issue of vacation rentals. Nicoletta said that at a recent public hearing she heard what she felt was based on fear of what could happen rather than what is happening.

Toll took an opposite view.

"We just don't have enough housing," she said. "Vacation rentals will erode our community."

Moderator Ralph Routon, publisher of the Bulletin, asked Toll and Nicoletta to ask each other one question.

Nicoletta asked Toll what her biggest challenge has been on City Council.

"Learning patience," she said. "The wheels of government move slowly."

Toll asked Nicoletta if she thought she'd have time to be mayor.

Nicoletta immediately responded that, yes, she's a single, working mother, but she has recently mastered the art of time management.

Both said they support ballot measure 3B, and that it's not a priority for them or the community to encourage cannabis clubs in the city.

3B asks whether voters in Manitou Springs School District 14 want to increase taxes $1.8 million per year by imposing a mill levy. The money would be used to "attract and retain highly qualified staff" and maintain and upgrade school district facilities.

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