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5th St. closure approved on split city council vote

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council this week approved Ordinance 1085 on second reading that will allow for the closure of W. Fifth St., if, and only if, all conditions set forth by the council in the document are met to that body’s satisfaction.

Councilmen Charlie Montoya and Clint Boehler voted against the ordinance, while Mayor Jim Eccher, Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar and council members Dennis Hoyt, Greg Daniels and John Salazar II voted in favor.

The ordinance will go into effect 30-days after the council meets, and approves all of the conditions imposed in the ordinance. Those conditions are; Huerfano County obtains a traffic study conducted by a qualified independent engineering firm and that the study, ‘determines that a reasonable alternative route or routes exist to adequately accommodate traffic where that portion of W. 5th St., is vacated (and) the City of Walsenburg City Council concurs with this finding, (and) includes an intersection study for each intersection impacted by any proposed alternate route or routes supporting the engineering firm’s conclusion regarding the existence of a reasonable alternative route or routes for traffic.”

Other conditions in the ordinance include: Huerfano County enters into a written agreement with the city that provides the portion of the street to be vacated will remain open until such time as construction of the (judicial) building commences; the final plan for the proposed courthouse campus will provide for local traffic through the campus and that this meets the requirements of the county fire department; the city, the county and CDOT work together to develop, approve and install signage advising the public of changes in traffic routes; that Huerfano County is solely responsible for all costs of surveying, deed preparation, recording fees associated with the street vacation; the county agrees the process to develop the final plan for the campus will involve the public, and includes a plan for public involvement in the agreement and finally, the city council determines the conditions have been met by a motion approved by a majority voted during a regular meeting of the city council.

It is not anticipated the street closure will take place this year, and in fact, the construction of the new judicial building could be two to three years in the future.

In her sixth day on the job, new city administrator Leslie Klusmire, attended her first regular council meeting and asked two items to be removed from the agenda— a proposed lease agreement concerning a portion of the city ranch, and proposed Ordinance 1089 (one cent sales tax rate increase). Klusmire wanted to become more familiar with the proposed lease agreement and would like to meet with council in a work session regarding the sales tax question.

In other business the city council approved Ordinance 1088 to place a city clerk term limit elimination question before voters in November.

  • Approved Resolution 2016 R-03 setting a May 10 public hearing date for annexation of land for the Love’s Travel Stops & County Stores on the south side of the city.
  • Approved RubinBrown as the city’s auditor for 2016, however Klusmire advised council that best management practices suggest municipalities change or at least go out for new bids from public auditing firms after the same firm has been used for five years. This year will be the fifth year the firm has worked with Walsenburg government.
  • Approved a non-exclusive cable franchise with Charter Communications.
  • Set a May 10, 2016 public hearing date concerning a slight rate change in the natural gas rates. Ordinance 1087 will lower the gas supply charge for Walsenburg rate payers to reflect the lower cost the city is paying for natural gas.
  • Approved Resolution 2016 R 02, that adds Klusmire’s name to the list of those authorized to sign city checks.
  • Approved the tavern liquor license renewal for John L. Burch’s Moon Glow bar.

In other news; last night Klusmire hosted a meeting with local citizens and business owners to hear what they think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in the city. This meeting was held to assist the new administrator with the list of items already identified as priorities to present to DOLA Executive Director Irv Halter when she meets with him tomorrow morning.

Klusmire told council she has been busy meeting with city employees and department heads and says she is pleased with how engaged they are in their jobs. She also said she would like to have a work session retreat with the full city council sometime in the future.