Architect has designs on seat on Durango City Council

Brookie Enlarge photo


Editors' Note: The Herald is running profiles of each of the six City Council candidates this week. The stories, which started Monday and will finish Saturday, are available on the Herald's website.

By Jim Haug

Herald Staff Writer

Before the Durango Community Recreation Center was completed in 2002, controversy raged about how space should be allocated within the building, pitting racquetball players against swimmers, stair climbers against wall climbers.

“Everybody wanted a piece of that building,” said Dean Brookie, an architect on the project. “It was all-out negotiation over six months.”

Today, the building attracts more than a thousand people a day, proof that “we were able to build consensus and please everybody,” Brookie said.

A resident of Durango since 1980, Brookie touts his experience and familiarity with local issues in his run for City Council.

In his professional capacity as a community planner and architect, Brookie estimated that he has been to more than 150 council and city board meetings, so much so that his three children often did their homework in the back of council chambers.

With his children grown, Brookie, 59, feels he has even more time for council meetings, although it would mean sitting on the opposite side of the dais and staring out at the audience.

Brookie has a long history as a community activist, promoting historical preservation on Main Avenue, getting the Van Dal landfill closed to prevent pollution of the Animas River and thwarting attempts to sell county land for a Walmart on North Main Avenue, saving the space that later became the Recreation Center.

Building the Rec Center was not a slam dunk as the bond issue only passed with 51 votes, Brookie said.

“Certain segments of the population were not understanding what they didn't have,” he said.

Architects keep busy in Durango by doing everything from front-porch additions to multimillion-dollar homes. Brookie said his business has significantly grown outside the city limits, working on affordable housing and historic-preservation projects around the country and Puerto Rico.

Closer to home, Brookie is designing a new $42 million high school for Cortez.

If any of his projects conflicted with city interests, Brookie said he would recuse himself from a vote.

He said professional experience demonstrates his ability to handle a big budget. It also indicates his interests as a politician.

“As a planner, I am conceptually against sprawl,” Brookie said. “A certain amount of infill (development) is important and vital. I also happen to have an (accessory dwelling unit). It's over 100 years old. It was grandfathered in.”

Brookie straddles the issue of ADUs, saying he wants to create more affordable housing but is sensitive to overcrowding in a neighborhood, too.

He promised to be a “moderate voice on council.”

“You've got to listen to all sides and come to consensus,” he said.

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