RANGELY I On March 10 Rangely Mayor Pro Tem Brad Casto resigned his position from the Rangely Town Council after seven years of service.
Casto, who felt himself growing increasingly anxious about the future direction of the town, is hopeful that his resignation, and honesty about the reasons behind the resignation, will inspire more citizens to get involved in local governance.
During the last few years Casto says he has felt a deepening concern about the future growth of Rangely and the role that the town plays in development and growth.
He believes that the town is not working hard enough to encourage private development and investment and that the lack of a business friendly environment will continue to hurt Rangely.
Casto says he tried to instill a more positive business environment but that he was often told, “We can’t use public money to support private industry.” Casto found himself dismayed at this approach saying, “The town would have reaped big returns.”
The last straw for Casto was the handling of the West Rangely Subdivision, owned by Mike and Tracy Hayes.
The subdivision plans to bring both homes and businesses to the community. According to Casto the development ran into trouble with a road, which was not built to town standards and after numerous on-site discussions and inspections—all of which Casto claims the Hayes were billed by the town for—the town determined that they were unwilling to accept maintenance of.
Casto says he encouraged the council and town to accept the road despite the discrepancy, believing that the benefit of the potential homes and businesses would more than make up for any additional cost of maintenance on the road.
Unfortunately for Casto, the rest of the council was concerned about estimates made by staff of the cost of road maintenance and repair. Casto calls the estimates “inflated.”
However, Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt disagrees with Casto’s take on the subdivision road saying that he “stands by what the town did 100 percent. They [the Hayes] deviated from the original agreement. The town shouldn’t pay $50,000-$60,000 to correct the road.” He also believes that Rangely is in fact business-friendly, but says that his approach to encouraging business differs from Casto’s.
“My idea of being business-friendly is being the least intrusive as we can be, but not donating money to business,” Huitt said, “I’m a strong believer in free enterprise. The strong survive and the weak fail, but the government shouldn’t be propping up weak businesses.”
Casto also felt concern about the recent move of Crossfire LLC from Rangely to Vernal, a move that he believes “hurts every business on Main Street.” In his opinion the town didn’t do enough to keep the business local.
“They have to change the way they look at economics, we don’t have any tax incentives for business,” Casto says.
There were other decisions made by the town council that also left Casto disappointed. In February the council approved spending $66,000 to improve the parking lot north of the new car museum. “I can’t defend that decision,” he said.
Mayor Huitt says he can defend the decision though.
Huitt says the council agreed that when visitors come into Rangely from the West they see an unattractive lot, which hurts the town. In addition he feels that Bud Striegel, owner of the car museum, has done much for the town, including donating the lot.
Huitt expects the town will spend $20,000-$30,000 on the lot improvement.
All of these issues weighed heavily on Casto and in March he decided that he’d had enough. It wasn’t an easy decision for him to come to.
“I feel like I let some people down,” he said. “But if you aren’t making a difference then the stress isn’t worth it.”
Despite his departure from the town council Casto is hopeful for the future of Rangely. “I love Rangely a lot,” he said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the great people of this town.”
Casto is also hopeful that sharing his reasons for resigning will encourage the people of the community to educate themselves about what’s happening within the town, participate in the process and hold government accountable. “You forget who you’re working for when you sit on that board and no one is involved.”