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Council split on repair of Elk Avenue after Whatever USA event

Yep…we’re still talking about it

by Mark Reaman

While three Crested Butte Town Council members were ready to roll the dice and gamble with the weather, the slim majority decided to play it safe and repair the grooves on Elk Avenue with the cheaper but more flexible option. The town will contract to lay down a “Type-2 slurry coat,” instead of tearing up the affected section of street and repaving it.

The discussion began last week when town attorney John Belkin pointed out, according to the proposed contract with the firm that would apply the slurry coat, that the firm would not “guarantee” that all the grooves resulting from the roto-milling and diamond milling process last fall would be totally eliminated.

The grooves came about after the Bud Light Whatever USA party last September when the blue paint on the street started chipping and emergency measures had to be taken to get the paint completely off the street. That milling process left the blocks between Fourth and First Streets along Elk Avenue with grooves and no time to cover them last fall before the weather turned too cold.

So the town had planned to apply the slurry coat this spring, but after Belkin’s observation about the contract some council members felt the event organizers should pay to have the street repaved in order to bring it back to its original (or better) condition.

Applying the slurry coat and resealing all of Elk Avenue would cost about $26,000. Repaving was going to cost $96,000. The town still holds about $60,000 in cash from the promotional firms Mosaic and Fusion, which put on Whatever.

Mayor Aaron Huckstep told the council at the Monday, May 18 meeting that the event company lawyers were balking at the proposed change. The event organizers had been led to believe the slurry coat would be more than adequate to repair the street. “They didn’t expect this and their lawyers didn’t give us confidence they would pay for the paving,” he said. “That could be subject to change but they said they didn’t know enough about the situation and had a prior agreement.”

Throwing another curve into the equation was that the United Paving Company said it could do the paving work this week. But only this week. It would mill Elk on Wednesday and lay the asphalt on Thursday. If, however, the weather turned cold or rainy, they would have to postpone the project. There was a two-day window to get the work done. If they milled Wednesday and the weather didn’t cooperate Thursday, they would have to wait to lay down the asphalt and, given a busy schedule, that might have been into the fall.

“The integrity of the street will be fine with the slurry coat,” explained public works director Rodney Due. “It is a pretty solid surface. Will it hide all the milling marks? Maybe. But the company wouldn’t guarantee it. After the slurry coat we will lay a seal on all of Elk so it will look consistent and brand new. That’s my recommendation. If we had gotten it done last fall, we wouldn’t even be talking about it. I can see why Mosaic is pushing back.”

Councilman Roland Mason argued that the slurry coat wouldn’t be adequate and would result in the town having to pave the street sooner than the normal 10-year cycle.

“The integrity of the street will be fine,” responded Due. “You’re talking cosmetics.”

“The street was supposed to be returned to exactly as it was,” said Mason. “To go back to the people here and say ‘It’s the best we can do’ and then in maybe a few years have to pave, I don’t think that is right.”

“What if we hold the money and if the street doesn’t look good in a couple years we do another slurry coat?” asked councilman Chris Ladoulis. “That would be cheaper and we have that money.”

“It would ride rough,” said councilmember Skip Berkshire. “We want to ride on glass.”

“After the slurry coat it will be a pretty good surface,” promised Due. “There is a warranty for a year. I know you’ll be golden with the public with asphalt. But you are taking a chance with this window. I just want you to go into this with your eyes wide open.”

“Scheduling is the issue,” said town manager Todd Crossett. “It could be the fall if they are busy and we miss this window. Then the street would stay that way until United can find a time to come back and pave it.”

“The slurry coat won’t be perfect so we could get some feedback that it’s not perfect,” noted councilman Jim Schmidt. “And if we pave, there’s the possibility the town could pick up some of the additional cost. I say let’s go with pavement and we can say we went for it.”

“All events, no matter their size, have an obligation to return the place they use in the same or better condition to town,” said councilmember Shaun Matusewicz.

“No matter what, we need to do something this spring,” said Mason. “We need to press Fusion and Mosaic to do it right.”

“In the best case scenario, we would repave it but winter has hung on this year,” said Huckstep. “We need to do something before the middle of June.”

“I say do it right,” said Berkshire. “Get it done and done right. We don’t know this company that wants to lay down the slurry seal.”

Belkin gave the council a weather report from his phone that showed a good chance of dry and warming weather on Thursday.

“And if weather moves in it could be roto-milled and sit. We don’t want to make matters worse,” said Huckstep.

“You want to gamble with Elk Avenue because you want it absolutely perfect?” Ladoulis asked the council.

“It was perfect,” said Matusewicz.

“You are rolling the dice for cosmetics. Think of the environmental argument. It is a lot more green and environmentally friendly to lay a slurry coat than to tear up the street and repave it,” said Ladoulis.

“Once you roto-mill there’s no going back. The weather is looking reasonable But if not, we all go on Elk Avenue and drink the Kool-aid,” suggested Berkshire.

“Don’t make it so complicated,” argued Ladoulis. “Just slurry coat the damn surface and look at it. I can explain that decision to every constituent.”

“So go with certainty,” summed up councilperson Glenn Michel.

“We think the slurry coat will work, but it might not,” retorted Matusewicz. “Nothing is certain.”

“Our entire crew has talked about it and we are confident,” explained Due. He then gave the council a few examples of where a slurry coat has worked around town in the recent past.

Mason was familiar with the work, and this changed his mind. “I want the street to be in the best possible shape this summer. With some of those examples, I’m more comfortable. Plus, with the weather, I’m not willing to gamble. But I think we needed to have this conversation.”

“I think we’ll get abuse about it either way,” concluded Schmidt.

“Bud Light and the promoters can afford it. I’m still for paving it,” said Matusewicz.

So were Schmidt and Berkshire. But the other four carried the day. The council instructed Due and the staff to put down a slurry coat and re-seal Elk Avenue before June 15.

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