Mt. Crested Butte eyeing stimulus funds
The town of Mt. Crested Butte is interested in getting a share of the funding from President Obama’s stimulus package, a.k.a. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There’s about a million dollars floating about that will be allocated to transportation projects in the state, and the town is interested in using some of that money to complete an extension of the recreation path and/or build a new footbridge over Gothic Road.
Some conceptual drawings of the pedestrian bridge and preliminary engineering studies of the recreation path extension were completed last year. The recreation path extension would extend the sidewalk along Gothic Road from its current terminus near Marcellina Lane to the intersection of Gothic Road and Prospect Drive. The pedestrian bridge would be built where the recreation path crosses Gothic Road near the water and sewer plant.
On Tuesday, March 3 Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission member David O’Reilly informed the council that he and town manager Joe Fitzpatrick were putting together an informational packet about the two town projects that would be helpful if the town made an official request for stimulus funds. O’Reilly sits as one of two Mt. Crested Butte representatives on the Gunnison Valley Regional Transportation Planning Committee.
Fitzpatrick said no request was being made at the moment, because there were some complications. For one, Fitzpatrick said, the town hasn’t finished design work on either of the projects and doesn’t have any money currently to finish the designs. Obtaining the stimulus funding might also require some sort of matching funds for each project and the town wouldn’t have any money for that either, he said. Fitzpatrick said the informational packet was being put together in case an avenue toward the stimulus funds presented itself.
O’Reilly said there were currently 47 transportation projects statewide that were being considered as recipients of the stimulus funds, including pedestrian bridges and pedestrian trails. O’Reilly said he had met with Gunnison County public works director Marlene Crosby; she was impressed with the planning work that was already accomplished and would be in support of a Mt. Crested Butte request for stimulus funds.
Councilmember Andrew Gitin asked if the need for pedestrian safety had any impact on getting the funds, and O’Reilly said it would. He said some of the 47 projects were listed as safety issues.
Councilmember Dave Clayton also had some information about the stimulus opportunity. According to Clayton, at a recent Region 10 meeting Mt. Crested Butte’s other representative on the Regional Transportation Planning Committee, Vince Rogalski, said of $120 million in stimulus funds going to transportation projects in Colorado, only $1.2 million was not already allocated.
Much of the funding is slated for projects in Denver, Colorado Springs and Summit County. “It’s a tough go,” Clayton said of getting any of the stimulus funding.
Fitzpatrick said there were also time restrictions on the funding. Many of the 47 projects must begin within 180 days, and if the money isn’t spent it goes somewhere else.
Rejected bill could have hurt municipalities
Mayor William Buck said one of the hot topics at the last meeting of the Colorado Municipal League (CML) was the potential impact of Senate Bill 180. If approved, the state bill would allow police and firefighters to join unions, which could put extra pressure on small governments to pay for their services. Buck said CML representatives described the bill as “an intrusion into the police and practices of local municipalities.” He said CML was opposed to the bill and expected it to fail. The council did not take any stance against the bill that night, but regardless, the bill was rejected by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday, March 6.
Backfill and BOLT ordinances approved
Two new ordinances received final approval at second reading on Tuesday night, March 3. There was no discussion for either measure during the second readings. The first one approved was Ordinance No. 2, which amends the town code and requires a new type of fill material to be used for future road cuts. Rather than using standard road base material to fill in road cuts for utilities and other projects, the town is now requiring flowable fill material be used —a porous concrete-like material.
The council also approved at second reading Ordinance No. 3, which keeps the town’s business and occupational licensing tax at $100 per business. The town has charged $100 per business since 2004. After an administrative error was discovered last fall, the BOLT was set to increase to its original sliding scale, which varies between $100 and $1,500 based on the number of employees in a business. The council decided to lower the BOLT once again after hearing concerns from business owners. Businesses that already paid the higher amount for 2009 are entitled to refunds, which the town will be sending out soon.
Building code appeals board appointed
The council appointed three members to a board of appeals for building code reviews. Community development director Bill Racek said, “We need a board of appeals to render decisions on appeals of a building official in relation to anything that’s in the building code.” Racek said there were three candidates, and three seats available on the new board.
Councilmember Bill Babbitt asked, “Do we have a current appeal in process?”
Racek said there currently weren’t any appeals, but a home in town was recently condemned and there was an appeals provision in the condemnation notice. “I’m anxious to get a board appointed,” he said.
Councilmember Mike Kube asked if the board positions were well publicized. Racek said the town has been advertising the positions for a year. Racek admitted he had to persuade several Mt. Crested Butte residents to apply for the board positions. The three appointees are Mt. Crested Butte residents Kathy Hooge, Jay Prentiss and A.J. Leonard.
Mt. Crested Butte attorney Rod Landwehr said he would likely be unable to render his services to the new appeals board, since he is usually involved in many of the building department’s decisions. Landwehr said the appeals board would have to find a different attorney if they were being asked to review a building department decision that he was involved with, such as the condemnation, for which he wrote the notice and orders.
Buck congratulated the new board members on their appointments—two were present that evening. Leonard said, “I hope we’re not needed, actually.”