by Gretchen Orr
WALSENBURG- Abel Engineering had a couple of unpleasant surprises at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night. Sean Tapia of Abel Engineering, was on hand to present conceptual sketches and design specifications for Walsenburg’s north entrance Gateway project.
The project is envisioned to be signage for the city comprised of two very attractive, natural stone and steel retaining walls built atop each side of the hogback cut. After lengthy discussion regarding project specifics of materials, drainage, title search, electrical specifications, grafitti proofing, and a preliminary cost estimate of $150,000, the Council asked Tom Cave of Accurate EngiSurv for his feedback.
Cave noted that there is not a very good legal description on one parcel of land along the hogback, and that there are unknowns regarding legal right of way through the road cut. The Gateway project walls would be at least partially located within the 250 foot wide right of way for the highway. This raises the possibility that CDOT would be able to condemn the Gateway signs in the process of widening the road into Walsenburg. Cave noted that CDOT’s 25 year plan, available to the public, does include widening this road.
Taken aback, Sean Tapia of Abel Engineering responded “That makes sense, and in that case the design is kind of silly.”
Cave then pointed out that “A lot of things are up in the air when it comes to the government. I wouldn’t deny the project based on CDOT’s 25 year plan.” Sheldon concurred, noting that CDOT had planned to bypass Walsenburg about 30 years ago.
Earlier in the evening, Tapia had mentioned that the cost estimates for the project did not include a soils report, and that he “would be shocked if there were significant expansive clay on that hill. This proposal tells us that traditional spread footers are acceptable.” Sheldon then pointed out that the Indiana Avenue apartments located just a bit further east along the Hogback had to be constructed to allow for the existance of the expansive clay bentonite. With that in mind, Tapia conceded the total estimates cost for the project would likely be higher. The Council decided to move forward with the title search and soils study.
Bill Shepard and Tom Cave of the Northlands annexation effort were happy to report that 100% of the people in Huajatolla Hills have signed, including the Powells, Linda Schafer and Ernie Quintana. Cave praised Tom Powell saying, “all good leaders, when faced with new or different information will change their minds.” The owners of the Rambler motel, asked to include an additional 23 acres in the annexation. Council will take up the matter in June after a public hearing.
Mike Hurley of the Huerfano Chamber and Gary Luna of Colorado Workforce presented a proposal that Workforce development use space at the Chamber depot for no rent, in exchange for manning the chamber offices year round. All Council members except Erin Jerant, saw this as a win-win situation to keep both the Chamber and the Workforce offices going, so it was approved.
In other business, the council approved liquor licenses for the Black Diamond Jubilee and for Corine’s Restaurant, and approved the subdivision of property at the old landfill for the new transfer station. The City’s purchasing policy was also approved. Council voted to hire Brooke Fisherhawk as web administrator, and the application for a liquor license for Casino Night, (a fundraiser for the continuing effort to raise matching funds for the Gates grant) was tabled in order to find an organization able to legally sponsor the event. Last year it was under Alys’ Fireside liquor license. Finance committee chairman Larry Patrick reported that the City had received quite a few surveys from the inserts in the Huerfano Journal, and that mailing will be sent out later this month to get more input. Water Park chairman Bruce Quinana reported that they have picked the staffing for the year, a “good bunch of young adults. We look forward to seing them in action.”
Lou Taylor, Public safety committee chairman reported that the city has purchased 50 new stop signs at the recommendation of the Police Department. The new signs are larger and reflective, with break away poles.
Chief Baldonado noted that Sgt. Jim Chamberlain has been notified that will be deployed again- his second tour to Iraq, so the depatment will be testing for police officers, to fill that vacancy. The department also received a CDOT grant to pay officers overtime to participate in the Click it or Ticket seat belt campaign.