Has the time arrived?
by Mark Reaman
Whether the town starts paying to pave the alleys in the Crested Butte commercial district will be one of the things council considers during the upcoming 2020 budget process. The paving request came from some businesses located on the alley between Second and Third Streets between Elk and Sopris Avenues—the alley behind the Wooden Nickel and the Talk of the Town.
Because of the number of restaurants and bars in the area, that alley is heavily used by delivery vehicles. The businesses wrote a letter to the council stating that asphalt would provide a more durable, cleaner surface for all who utilize the alley and would serve the needs of their business by reducing the amount of mud, dust and debris tracked in through the service entrances of their establishments.
Public Works director Shea Earley gave the council a memo showing several paving alternatives, from a basic $80,000 price tag for asphalt and gutter work to the more expensive option of $495,000 that included utility improvements that buried overhead lines.
Restaurant owner Mike Marchitelli of Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle told the council at the July 2 meeting that more than three-dozen large delivery vehicles use the alley each week “and they just tear it up. Paving will clean it up and make it all nicer. It will make it easier to plow and help vehicles not hit the power poles, which happens a couple of times every year.”
Town manager Dara MacDonald said that since the alleys are public property, she felt the town should pay for the paving if the council decides to do it. There had been some previous discussion about asking the property owners along the alley to chip in for the costs.
“I encourage us to look at this now and consider alternatives before we do our budget for next year,” suggested councilman Chris Haver. “It’s a big expense to consider but that’s what budgeting is about. The day is coming that it may be necessary.”
Mary Boddington of the Talk of the Town said her primary concern was that if something like her water main was damaged, the cost of repairing it would be more expensive with a paved alley. Earley confirmed that would be the case. Since many utilities are buried beneath the alley rights-of-way, if the town had to dig up a line beneath pavement, he estimated it would be about a 400 percent increase over doing it in a gravel alley. Earley estimated it would be about a $15,000 expense, as opposed to a $3,000 or $4,000 job.
Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said she thought town should look at the basic paving option and not the more expensive option that buried power lines.
Councilman Will Dujardin noted that if the town paved one alley it would likely set it on a path to pave all alleys, at least in the core commercial district.
The council agreed to mull it over and pick up the discussion during the budget process that will begin in August.