‘Growthbuster’ Gardner in council race
Dave Gardner, who refers to himself as the “self-appointed local growth critic,” will compete for the District 3 City Council seat in which incumbent Jerry Heimlicher is
The district covers the city's southwestern quadrant, taking in the southern part of the Westside up to Uintah Street. It is one of four districts up for grabs in the April 7 election. Each seat is for four years.
Gardner, 53, is a native of Colorado Springs and graduate of Wasson High School. After building a film-making business over a 20-year span in Dallas, Texas, he returned to the Pikes Peak region in 1993. He had come back because he disliked the sprawl and crime of Dallas, but he soon found himself worrying that the Springs has a “growth addiction” and is heading in a similar direction.
That's why the Cheyenne-area resident is running for office now, he said. About eight years ago, he started “Growthbusters,” a volunteer group that rejects the commonly held civic principle that cities need ever-increasing size for economic health. As proof, he points to the last 15 years, in which the city grew at a steady pace. “But it didn't bring prosperity, and we have a higher sales tax and new fees,” Gardner said, adding his belief that the city is now “in a state of emergency.”
If elected to office, he would push to have developers pay more to cover the impacts of growth. He is particularly interested in the city's costs to create the Southern Delivery System, a water project that is primarily needed to service the major Banning Lewis development in eastern Colorado Springs.
Asked about Westside issues, Gardner praised Old Colorado City for its historic revitalization, which has strengthened the city's “core” area. But he also ties that in with his growth concerns. He believes that the Springs Utilities tap fees for new development are too low, which results in new homes out east being cheaper than older homes on the Westside. If that were changed, he said, “then we'd have families moving back into the core.”
He also would like Westsiders to think more broadly, in the sense that a Westside Highway 24 expansion might not be proposed were it not for growth elsewhere. “If you don't want 24, then you don't want Banning-Lewis,” he said.
Westside Pioneer article