Using budget time to discuss upcoming priorities
By Mark Reaman
It is budget preparation time for the Crested Butte Town Council and meetings are underway to map the spending, and thus priorities, of the upcoming year. Working from staff recommendations, the council will add, subtract or tweak proposed projects before approving a final budget in November.
At ongoing budget work sessions the council has indicated it was ready to lay some asphalt in town next summer.
Not only did council agree with the proposal to pave the Visitor Center parking lot at the Four-way Stop and the parking area behind the Fire Station at Third Street and Maroon Avenue but they will also pave the gravel parking strips at Third and Elk.
The three strips that would get asphalt are located along the west side of the Company Store, the east side of the Grubstake building by the Sherpa Café and the strip in front of the Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery on Third Street.
The Visitor Center lot is expected to add about 40 parking spaces by taking down the berm on the east end of the property and striping the new pavement. The council approved the idea of installing a six-foot high fence between the lot and the neighborhood to the east as part of the project.
Council members asked about the effectiveness of fire pavers for events like Vinotok and January’s Twelfth Night celebration fire that burns dried Christmas trees. As part of the 2017 paving budget the council included $15,000 for a 30-foot concrete fire ring at the Visitor’s Center parking lot.
Paving the parking strips in the center of town wasn’t originally a staff recommendation, but councilman Jim Schmidt said it had been talked about for about a year. “To me paving those strip areas at Third and Elk is more important than doing the fire hall. Can we do them both? We get our tax revenues from the businesses and I think it is reasonable to pave those strip areas at Third and Elk and eventually move out to the ones along Second or Fourth Streets.”
Public works director Rodney Due said additional paving would cost about $26,000 for the three strips. That’s about the same amount as paving the newly acquired town lot to be used for parking and snow storage across the alley from the back of Pitas at Third and Elk.
“I think it is safe to say these three strips are in a class of their own given their location in the direct center of the business district and the public input we’ve received on them,” added Coucilman Chris Ladoulis. “I don’t think it sets a big precedent where we have to pave everything else right away.”
“I agree that it can be reasoned that that area of the hub of the town business district and is the highest priority,” said mayor Glenn Michel.
“I would bet the strip areas by Camp 4 Coffee and Donita’s at Fourth and Elk is actually as busy or busier,” said councilmember Roland Mason.
“So we start at the core and move out,” responded Schmidt. “Start with Third and Elk and move out to Second and Fourth and other needed areas. That’s how we did the streets.”
Michel wanted to get some idea of long-term maintenance costs that would be incurred by the town if the strips were paved.
“Since I’ve been on council, what we have been doing is paving primary parking lots to maximize our parking,” said Mason. “I’d rather stay with that plan than start doing more street parking.”
“I’m on the opposite end of that,” said Schmidt. “I’d rather do street parking, especially at Third and Elk where those areas are used during events like the Arts Festival.”
“I just feel like when the paving trucks are here next spring we will all want to mobilize them for an easy paving job on those strips,” said Michel.
Due told the council at the October 17 work session that his crew was filling up the 2017 summer project calendar and if the council wanted the town to prioritize in-kind utility work for the expanded Center for the Arts, some other projects would have to be postponed. The council asked to be kept informed of any progress with the Center construction timeline.
Council will review the budget at a work session on Monday, November 7 starting at 5 p.m.