RIDGWAY BRIEFS
Ridgway’s Comprehensive Plan Ratified
by Peter Shelton
Feb 18, 2012 | 1238 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ridgway’s Town Council tackled three big planning documents at its regular meeting last week (Feb. 8). Two of them, the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Update and the Parks, Trails and Open Space element, had been in the works for years and just needed final ratifications. The third, the town’s Historic Business Streetscape Plan, has languished without an active committee and will need a revival, and a timetable, to put a fundraising measure before voters if it is to become a reality, councilmembers said.

Of the Comprehensive Plan, Mayor Pat Willits could only gush: “This is excellent. As was noted by the Planning Commission,” which passed the land use document Jan. 31, “this came in on budget and on time – with a lot of good citizen input. Hats off to all of you!”

Plan highlights include maps of Initial Growth Boundaries close in to the town core, wider Urban Growth Boundaries and an extended Area of Influence. It also takes in plans for the river corridor and includes a map overlay for the newly created Creative District.

Mayor Pro Tem John Clark said, “I’d be proud to move we accept this 2011 Update to the Land Use Plan….”

The Parks, Trails and Open Space element of the Comp Plan has been in the works “since I first came on council nine years ago,” said Eric Johnson. “I think this is an incredible document, a good addition to our LUP. I think the objectives are right on.”

Mayor Willits noted that there are “270 acres of open space in a little town like Ridgway – half private trusts and half town land. That’s pretty incredible.

Town Manager Jen Coates added: “Action items coming up: a possible dog park, and an adopt-a-park program by groups like the Columbine ladies who work the flower beds in the park now.”

The trails plan passed unanimously.

STREETSCAPE PLAN FACES FUNDING CHALLENGE

“Remind me of the next steps [for our Historic Business Streetscape Plan],” Mayor Pat Willits asked Town Manager Jen Coates at last week’s council meeting.

The total cost for future downtown sidewalk construction, landscaping, irrigation, lighting, benches, etc., will come to approximately $3.5 million, Coates replied. In order to make it a reality, to bring the years of work to fruition, the town will have to “take this to the citizens for a bond issue or a mill levy increase.”

Councilmember Ellen Hunter asked: “Do people really want this thing, and are they willing to pay for it?” And then she added, “A ballot issue in April 2013 would be good – mud season! I dropped a book off at the library today!” The council groaned as one, well aware of the mud on Charles Street. The streetscape plan envisions a new sidewalk there.

“If we wait, it’s never going to happen,” said Councilor Eric Johnson. “It does benefit the businesses downtown, makes it more pedestrian friendly, improves the character of the town. Look at South Lena Street,” which saw similar improvements in years past.

“To do it piecemeal, pay-as-you go,” Hunter said, “would take us what, 18 years?”

“Fifty,” said Councilor Rick Weaver.

“It’s going to take us to inspire the community,” added Councilor Jim Kavanaugh. “To see whether we can rally people.”

Weaver concluded, “We’ll never get the money if we don’t ask.”

In the end, council decided not to try putting the issue on the November 2012 ballot, because of the circus surrounding a presidential election.

“I think April 2013 is a good game plan,” concluded Mayor Willits.

MISCELLANY

In other business last week, Ridgway’s Town Council:

[bullet] approved a letter of support for San Juan Hut Systems’ application to the U.S. Forest Service for a permit to run horse-packing trips once a week on the Dallas Trail between huts.

[bullet] introduced Ridgway’s new (contract) building inspector John Hatfield, who comes with 45 years experience in the construction industries, from the Front Range communities of Glendale and Georgetown.

[bullet] heard from Dickson Pratt about his idea to install recharging stations for electric cars in Ridgway. “It could eventually be a tourist draw,” Pratt said, as more and more people, like him, drive plug-in electric cars.

[bullet] heard from Janet Smith on her idea to raise ducks for food on the Uncompahgre River adjacent to Rollans Park in Ridgway. Mayor Pat Willits suggested Smith bring the idea up with the newly forming Transition Towns sustainability group.

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