New Dolores interim Town Manager David C. Stahl Sr. brings a mix of municipal government and business experience to the position.
The energetic Colorado native is 67 but is not ready to retire despite working for decades in the public and private sectors. He was the town administrator for Erie from 1997 to 2000, the city manager for Central City from 1990 to 1997, and the city manager for Louisville from 1987 to 1990. He also has experience working in parks and recreation departments.
His resume includes significant business experience as well. From 2002 to 2016, Stahl was the owner of DPS Group LLC, which managed daily operations for several businesses in the Lafayette area. He also was the owner of Facilities Development Group from 2005 to 2012, which managed real estate, charter school projects and the development of a 1,250-bed private correctional facility.
“It’s been fun. I love the work and have been impressed with Dolores,” Stahl said. “I understand how government and businesses intertwine, and have experience seeing the different perspectives, so that is helpful for this job.”
After a manager search, he was hired by the Town Board in February under an 18-26 week contract with a pay rate of $1,500 per week with no benefits. He plans to seek the permanent town manager position expected to be filled this summer.
“I bring a lot of knowledge to the table that I can share with the board. I work well with people and believe I can provide the leadership to move the town in a positive direction,” he said.
Stahl sees Dolores’ outdoor recreation resources as a strong asset that should be emphasized to attract visitors.
“I’ve fished the entire state and was surprised to learn that McPhee was the second largest surface area lake and I had never heard of it. I view that as something we can work on,” he said.
The demolition of a popular playground divided the town, and Stahl sees building a new one as a priority. He has been attending the new parks committee meetings to help iron out a plan the community can get behind.
“As a town, we want to rebuild that trust and resolve the issue of a new playground,” he said. “Open communication to solve problems will give the community a foundation on dealing with other issues that come along.”
His take on Dolores is that it has a great base of businesses and outdoor recreation opportunities that can be built upon. The town’s collection of crafts and antique shops, mom-and-pop restaurants, a hardware store, RV park and campgrounds, coffee shops, brew pub, grocery and outdoor retailers are just the beginning.
“Dolores lends itself to those type of businesses, and it is that synergy that we can build upon,” he said. “We serve locals and are also a tourist attraction. People come here to enjoy what we are best at, so let’s build on that.”
He sees small towns like regional shopping centers with anchor stores that attract more businesses to move in, creating an influx of shoppers that boosts sales taxes.
Stahl says it does not happen overnight, but first the new Town Board needs to brainstorm a media strategy to attract more visitors and business to town. Fleshing out an agreed-upon promotional goal between the board, the chamber and community is important.
“We have a better chance of success if we are all on the same page and have a concerted effort,” he said. “If we are scattered all over, we won’t be successful.”
Of the three towns in Montezuma County, only Dolores has banned retail marijuana stores. The ban is in place until the end of the year, and whether it will remain “is a community decision” Stahl said, adding that he will support that decision either way.
He said the town could learn from other similar communities that have allowed or not allowed marijuana stores to learn the pros and cons.
Stahl said he will uphold Colorado’s open meetings and open records laws. He is available for anyone who wants to meet.
“This is all the public’s business,” he said.
On a large work table in his new office, stacks of paper are neatly lined up, ready for his review.
“I am a big reader and listener. I am learning where the town has been, so I can help figure out where we want to go.”
When he gets a spare moment, Stahl likes to fish, golf, cheer on the Rockies and Broncos and watch his grandsons play baseball.
“I look forward to drawing on everyone’s experience and figuring out our priorities as a community,” he said. “Keeping the status quo is not an option. Let’s get moving in the upward direction.”