Saturday, January 18, 2020

Briefs Gunnison County

Alpine Odyssey slightly off the back
With the Alpine Odyssey just days away, on September 15, the county agreed to formally grant the special event permit with a few conditions. First, the commissioners and staff wanted exact road closures in writing, and they wanted assurances that efforts would be made to inform the public of those road closures.



Director of Public Works Marlene Crosby told the commissioners she first asked event organizers about the event and road closures as early as June, but the planning department had only recently received the application. She speculated that the demands of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge had kept them from applying sooner.
“Let the records show that the board and especially the staff would really like to see them, regardless of circumstances, be a little more on top of this in the future,” said Commissioner Hap Channell.

Land Preservation Fund on the Ballot
The Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to add the reauthorization of the Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Fund to this November’s ballot. The official language includes a 20-year sunset and language that will allow for flexibility in the collection of funds because Mt. Crested Butte had expressed concern over the existing monthly collection.
JoEllen Fonken, a member of the Gunnison Country Trails Commission, also submitted a letter to the commissioners in support of reauthorization.

Yes to Thompson Divide
The commissioners are joining Pitkin and Garfield counties in supporting Senator Michael Bennet’s draft bill protecting Thompson Divide. The bill would withdraw federal land and mineral rights from mineral and geothermal leasing, and mining access. Any private property and current leases would be excluded, although the bill would allow existing leases to be retired.
“This has been around for quite some time, and I think the proposal has morphed a little bit, and it’s something I personally can support,” said Commissioner Paula Swenson.
Matt Reed, public lands director for the High Country Citizens’ Alliance, encouraged the commissioners’ support. He said, “The Thompson Divide Coalition has put in a hell of a lot of work for the last two-plus years. This enjoys wide support from diverse stakeholders… and I’d encourage you guys to support their efforts.”
Commissioner Phil Chamberland also spoke to his support for the bill, though he did hope that future comments on the bill could address horizontal drilling. “I wonder if there’s a way to make the legislation so there is nothing removed from the surface because that’s what we’re trying to protect, the surface. But if SG Interests is able, from existing well pads, to access resources without any surface disturbance, would that make sense?”
Commissioner Channell agreed that was an interesting idea, and the commissioners will formally comment on the details of the bill at a future meeting.

No additional funds for TA
This summer, the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association approached the county commissioners about a possible funding request on top of the 2012 budget. Expenses for services like fulfillment of requests for the vacation planner were higher than anticipated.
After a second look, however, the TA is reallocating just under $18,000 from funds originally set aside for supplemental advertising in partnership with Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The TA will still be able to make its additional commitments for the winter of 2013, and the commissioners supported the move over taking money out of the Local Marketing District reserves.
“You need to work within your budget and so I don’t have a problem with that reallocation,” said Commissioner Phil Chamberland.

New fire fighting facility
The Gunnison Fire Department is seeking the support of the commissioners on a fire training facility they want to build on Gunnison Crested Butte Airport property. The facility would sit on the western edge of the old Public Works facility, and would include a three-story tower and models of both residential and commercial properties.
Airport director John DeVore said the facility would be paid for by the fire department in lieu of paying rent or lease, and airport staff could use the facility for their own fire training. Assistant airport director Walt Cranor said it would be a draw for neighboring fire districts as well. “It’s not going to make anybody rich, but it will fill the restaurants and hotels on occasion.”
The commissioners were generally supportive and will consider formal support at future meetings.

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