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ADA and a controversial look at the city’s electrical service

by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — A contentious city council meeting Tuesday evening as the council considered approving a revocable permit for the Bella Luna pizzaria allowing for a patio in Alley A just to the east of the business. Alley A is owned by the city.
On June 29 the City of Trinidad removed the patio being used by Moose’s Social Club and Martini Bar following a complaint that access to the patio and parts of the sidewalk were being blocked by tables within the patio area. The removal has caused anger to be focused on the American with Disabilities Act as a law that can be used to dictate to local businesses how they will operate.

The patio at Moose’s was taken away under threat of more litigation under the ADA, according to city attorney Les Downs. And the current proposal from Bella Luna could be the making of another difficult situation for both the business and the city. Les Downs recommended that the city council not approve the revocable permit.
During the discussion council member Aaron Williamson noted that the issue carried with it a degree of importance for downtown Trinidad. “We have to make the best decision for for the town and the citizens,” Williamson said.
“I strongly feel that we should that we should take a longer look at this for a more clear understanding. Any decision made would be hasty right now. We should table this.”

“Alley A will need to be worked on before any further work is done,” said council member Frank Shew.
Council member Kathy Griego said that the ADA isn’t just for Alley A.

Mayor Phil Rico said that the ADA shuts everybody up. “No one wants to talk about it. The rules are in black and white and that’s it. It puts the city into a precarious position.”

A vote on the first motion to approve the Alley A permit failed on a 2-5 vote with the “Nos” carrying the vote. The motion was restated to table the issue until the city council could receive more information, it passed with a 7-0 vote.

The city’s electrical service
Council member Aaron Williamson, during the council member reports item on the agenda, brought up the issue that power and light Director Dean Duran spoke about during the city council’s July 12 retreat. At that meeting, Duran talked about the possible failure of the local power grid in the event of a spike in demand due to a heat wave.

“We should explore the specific issues he brought up. This can be done in a work session,” Williamson said.
City attorney Les Downs jumped into the conversation saying that the discussion can’t be pursued because it would involve a personnel issue. “Don’t speak about this until I have a chance to talk to you. Maybe there’s a better forum to talk about this,” Downs said to Williamson.

“I welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you at any time, a one-on-one about this,” city manager Mike Valentine said to Williamson. “Don’t talk personnel, that is the city manager’s perview.”
Council member Erin Ogletree said she agreed with Williamson, and told Valentine she would get with him to discuss this issue.

The city has put the lid on any information about the electrical system while trying to ferret out what went wrong with the local electrical grid, who’s to blame, and how can it be fixed.