The Durango Board of Ethics has cleared the way for City Councilor Kim Baxter to discuss development of land owned by a nonprofit for which her husband serves as a board member.
Baxter sought the advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics late last year to find out if she is on firm ethical footing to discuss possible action involving plans to develop the 1,850 acres at Durango Mesa Park, formerly known as Ewing Mesa. Baxter’s husband, John, serves as a board member on the Durango Mesa Park Foundation, which owns the property.
The city councilor’s husband does not receive financial benefit from his role, Baxter told the Board of Ethics. Durango philanthropist Marc Katz purchased the property in 2015.
The Board of Ethics approved Baxter to work with the foundation and La Plata County officials to decide how to improve the property in the best interest of the community. But it cautioned the city councilor to disclose her potential conflict at any discussions about the project and to recuse herself from any votes that could involve financial decisions.
“If the council were voting about finances that are directly given to the foundation or spending money on property they own, I would recuse myself,” Baxter said in an interview. “If property is given to the city, then three years from now, we’re deciding whether to build a soccer field, I would ask for another opinion (from the Board of Ethics).”
The city of Durango has planned a music venue, BMX track, trails, campsites and other attractions at Durango Mesa Park. City Council plans to meet Feb. 11 with Durango Mesa Park Foundation representatives to discuss the future of the property, including any potential city involvement and investment in developing the area.
City Council will not make decisions at the scheduled study session.