CB South considers traffic changes, sheriff’s deputy substation

“We can’t forget about CB South and the needs that we have here…”

[  By Katherine Nettles  ]

Crested Butte South is getting some attention from the Gunnison County sheriff’s office lately as an area of priority for improving traffic safety measures and for a potential sheriff’s substation to serve the North Valley. During the March 9 CB South property owners association (POA) meeting, Gunnison County sheriff John Gallowich discussed his ideas, traffic safety measures and a future sheriff’s substation, and the POA board agreed that both would be worthwhile to pursue.

Gallowich opened the discussion by addressing various posted speed limits throughout the CB South neighborhood and its growing business district. 

“I would like to talk about traffic and making CB South safer,” he said, starting with getting into compliance with state standards. He said most traffic signs in the area are not legal and therefore cannot be officially enforced. “Teocalli Avenue is the only street approved by the board of county commissioners (BOCC). The actual speed limit there should have been 30 or 35 mph, based on state standards, but due to pedestrian traffic they went with 25,” said Gallowich. “The other signs are not enforceable and not legal.”

He said petitioning the state for lower speed limits than it would otherwise approve might work, and suggested it would be best to establish one consistent speed limit throughout the neighborhood instead of using “speed traps” where a reduction occurs temporarily in a certain zone. “It can be lower than state recommendations, such as 20 or 25 mph,” he advised, but this would require providing the state information about the reasoning, such as taking into consideration steep hills, blind corners and pedestrians in the streets.

“We can do it and I’m certainly willing to work with the CB South board on it,” said Gallowich. “I want to be proactive…I don’t want to wait until we have a serious accident.”

POA board president Andrew Sandstrom asked for Gallowich’s input on the recent traffic study the POA had done by a private consultant company. 

“Do we need to add to that?” asked Sandstrom.

“Yes,” answered Gallowich. “But I don’t think you need further studies; I think we can do it together.” He recommended that residents drive the streets, take note of their comfort level at various (but reasonable) speeds and offer feedback to the sheriff’s department. Gallowich said he needs to hear from community members about traffic issues in the area, including vehicle descriptions and times of concern so that he can determine where and at what times to station his deputies. He said he was also open to a steering committee of sorts. 

POA board member Allison Butcher said concerns about traffic and speeding were the reason she had joined the board, and she would be happy to help.

“We’ve got to make it reasonable,” he said. “If we don’t, people will not adhere to it. They just won’t. And we could write tickets all day, but that’s not my aim.”

Gallowich also gave an update on Cement Creek Road and ATV traffic there, noting that last fall the county put up signs for speed limits and ATV use that comply with state requirements. “So my deputies are now enforcing that and issuing both warnings and tickets,” he said.

Bringing back a substation

Gallowich recalled the time when as a deputy he had often worked out of the former substation in CB South, and that he would like to see a substation there again. “I can comment on that because I was the one usually driving the car…but it made a big difference. This is the second largest community in Gunnison County. It would be nice for this community to have law enforcement,” he said. 

The sheriff’s department has a contract with Mt. Crested Butte to help cover the North Valley, but Gallowich said he is planning for the future. “That arrangement has worked well, and this wouldn’t happen overnight,” he said. 

He suggested that a small, county-owned parcel would suffice for a building that could house one or two deputies. And he emphasized that it would not be a place for bringing or holding prisoners. “That will never happen. That’s down in Gunnison.”

 Sandstrom asked what steps would be needed to make that happen. “I think there would be tremendous support among the POA board for both speeding enforcement and a substation here,” he said.

Gallowich said the substation project would be for the whole North Valley, so “The burden wouldn’t have to be on CB South alone” to plan it. “Perhaps the county could come up with the funds to put that building there.”

Sandstrom asked if a purchase versus a lease would be preferable. “I think understanding some of those needs from you would be very helpful as we continue to explore opportunities,” he said. 

Gallowich said he would look into finding some property, and from his perspective, if the POA could sell or donate property for the county to develop that would be ideal.

Gallowich said he speaks with Mt. Crested Butte police chief Nate Stepanek often, and call volumes keep going up throughout the valley. “We can’t forget about CB South and the needs that we have here.”

Gunnison County commissioner chairperson Jonathan Houck said he could not comment personally or on behalf of the board on any specifics of a proposal until he hears and understands more about it. “I can say the idea of a substation in CB South has been a topic the sheriff has mentioned as a goal, but he has not approached me individually as chair or the board as a whole on a specific plan.”

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