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Is it time to do away with the brick streets?

City of Trinidad work session

by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — Well maybe not now, but according to the Trinidad City Utilities Director Mike Valentine, the brick streets that need repair will be torn up as the city replaces the water lines, and then repaired.  His question garnered some laughter and moans from the Trinidad City Council during an early morning retreat at city hall on Monday, March 19.
The massive infrastructure project the city is looking at will seemingly go on forever, as the work will begin along First Street between High Street and Oak.  According to Valentine, the water and sewer lines are in much worse condition than originally thought.

Infrastructure woes

Over the past year there have been several water main breaks along West Main Street, and traffic was rerouted last month as crews scoped (took pictures) of the sewer lines buried about 18-feet below the street surface.  What they saw shows how badly the sewer lines have degraded.
Valentine said as the camera was withdrawn from sewer lines, crews watched the lines collapse in sections, which will make the slip lining of the lines more complicated and thus more expensive.
The city has been awarded a $3 million grant for the project to replace the city’s aging pipes,
which were originally put in place in the early 1900’s.  The lines are now around 100 years old.  The estimated cost to the city for slip lining is around $1 million for the entire project. However, $3 million will pay for about three to four blocks of water lines.
For economic development to grow to fruition, the city’s infrastructure is very critical and Mayor Phil Rico wondered if a bond for the project would be the best way to pay for the work.
Current water usage in Trinidad is metered at three to four million gallons a day, with leakage estimated in the amount of 20% to 25%. According to Valentine, those water losses are greatest along Santa Fe Trail and from the water line to Piñon Canyon.
Council member Michelle Miles recommended the city check out funding that will be allocated to President Trump’s infrastructure plan when it is released.

On the topic of homelessness

Another hot topic was homelessness, a problem that won’t just go away as many residents would like.
Following a visit to Denver last month that involved a tour of housing for the homeless, councilman Carlos Lopez returned full of ideas.  On the other hand, Miles was far from impressed.
The subject drew a broad range of discussion until it was noted that a workshop was needed so that more information from informed sources could be accessed. It was also determined that both sides of the issue be represented at the workshop and several council members want the public present as well.


A parallel subject to the homeless issue surfaced in the discussion on housing, and that was the problem of dilapidated structures and how to best take care of it in an efficient way.  The current system can cause problems because of the amount of time it takes the city to begin the process to the time a dilapidated building is demolished.  A case in point is the three- house fire on Buena Vista, March 7.
Before the fire, neighbors had reported seeing squatters in one of the unoccupied homes.  In an effort to stay warm, the squatters started a fire, which engulfed the abandoned and condemned house.  In the high wind, the fire spread to two adjacent houses.  Three houses were destroyed during a six-hour conflagration.  Luckily no one was injured or died in the flames.
The work session lasted all day, with council members taking a tour of several locations throughout the city.