That was 75-year-old native of Belgium Leon A. Luyckx, who presented to Ridgway’s Town Council last week his idea for an electric car rally, from Silverton to Ridgway, sometime next year.
Luyckx retired from the steel industry in Pittsburgh to Ouray in 2000 and moved to Ridgway’s Vista Terrace in 2004. He said the idea came to him in a dream.
“Originally, I had the concept of a race,” he said. But then he realized a car race over Red Mountain Pass wouldn’t be such a good idea. But, “we haven’t found the word ‘rally’ anywhere connected to electric cars,” he said with obvious excitement.
Luyckx said he imagined a limited number of invited participants, at first, possibly drivers of the electric vehicles already on the road: the Chevy Volt, the Tesla Roadster, and the Nissan Leaf.
Tom Johnson, advisor to the Ridgway School’s solar car team, Sunshine Mountain Traveler, was at the meeting and asked if a solar electric car could be entered. “I’m getting involved,” he said, when Luyckx answered in the affirmative.
“We’re initially supportive,” said Mayor Pat Willits, noting that the proposal needed a good deal more fleshing out. “It’s a great idea. There is some real promotional potential” for Ridgway and the area. “Why don’t you see if other community members will join you on a committee that can come up with concrete details.”
Councilmember Jim Kavanaugh leapt in immediately: “I’d be willing to help. I think electric cars are as precious as our mountains.”
CITIZENS ASK FOR SMART METER MORATORIUM
Solar Ranch resident Susan Baker joined Jean McDonnel and other concerned citizens last week to request the Ridgway Town Council ask San Miguel Power Association to voluntarily stop installing its new TWACS automatic meter readers.
Baker noted that the so-called “smart meters” are both a potential health risk and a breach of homeowners’ privacy rights. “Police in some California communities are supporting people who refuse access to the installers,” she said.
The new meters have been killing beehives, she said. They “cause surges through the home, harm appliances, and human health.” She asked that the Town “at a minimum encourage a one-year moratorium while we get more information. Perhaps you could pass a resolution? Somehow slow this process down?”
“I’m not exactly sure how to proceed here,” admitted Mayor Pat Willits. “My inclination is to schedule this as an agenda item at our December meeting, invite SMPA, and discuss it with them.”
Town Manager Jen Coates interjected that SMPA was scheduled to do a presentation to the Ouray County commissioners at their next meeting, Nov. 22.
Mayor Pro Tem John Clark reflected on the Town’s inability to require anything of the electric utility. “I don’t think we have any authority at all over what SMPA does here. Other than give them strong feedback.”
Willits concluded that Council should probably consult with Town Attorney John Kappa, and added that SMPA is beginning its TWACS installations in San Juan County and will gradually work north. “We shouldn’t see any of our meters updated here until next spring,” he said.
A NEW BIKE TRAIL IN COTTONWOOD CREEK?
Citizen Rodney Fitzhugh came before Ridgway Town Council at its regular meeting last Wednesday to suggest a new bike trail on town property along the banks of Cottonwood Creek between the old town boundary and Solar Ranch.
It would be one-way, running west-to-east, a trail for BMX and mountain bikes, Fitzhugh said. He pictured it winding up and down the south side of the creek embankment. “I see it as a kid magnet, a little skills challenge.”
“Would there be wetlands issues?” he asked. “Army Corps of Engineers? Any thoughts?”
Councilmember Ellen Hunter commented, “A lot of kids play in the creek. I’m not opposed to trails. But how much general play would be disrupted by this trail?” The leafy dry creek bed has been a favorite site for impromptu forts and kids’ play structures over the years.
Mayor Pat Willits suggested the idea should be vetted by the Parks and Trails Committee. To which committee members Rich Durnan and Rick Weaver replied, “We actually discussed it last night. We didn’t come up with any opposition.”
Councilor John Clark said, “I’m in favor of giving it a look. See what the ramifications are.”
Durnan suggested to Fitzhugh that he research these questions and “come present the committee with a proposal.”
POSSIBLE HELP WITH THE TOWN CONCERT STAGE
Councilor Rich Durnan told Ridgway’s regular Town Council meeting last week about an intriguing possibility for the design and construction of the new concert stage in Hartwell Park.
Durnan had recently been made aware of a CU Boulder program in which students in the architecture school collaborate with communities on projects like this. “Grad students would come up with some designs and make a presentation to the town. Then they come out and build it. For just the cost of materials, which we would provide.”
The town and its concert committee had been discussing building the stage next spring with a largely volunteer local design, engineering and labor force. But the student program, Durnan said, could be a huge improvement in expertise, and cost savings.
“The only problem,” Durnan reported, “is that [given the university’s timing] we’d have to wait until the summer of 2013 for our stage.”
“Well, that’s pretty darn cool,” enthused Mayor Pat Willits.
Durnan was urged to learn more details about the student program.
RIVER PARK GRAVEL PIT UNDER FIRE
“Grrrrr,” growled Councilor Ellen Hunter at last week’s Ridgway Town Council meeting. “Every time I drive by on the highway and see that gravel pit [on the west side of the river near the Ridgway Secondary School] and those piles that were authorized for the building of the River Park, and were supposed to be reclaimed within a year . . . Grrrrr!”
The rest of the council agreed that reclamation of the site had been much too long in coming. Mayor Pro Tem John Clark said, “I’m with Ellen. The hole, the piles, the weeds. It’s been years.”
There was discussion about ownership of the site. Clark noted that the property had changed hands from father to son with the death recently in Montrose of Ed Pauls (inventor of the NordicTrack exercise machine). Mayor Pat Willits said, “I suggest we direct staff to consult with the Town Attorney to be in touch with Glen Pauls to see if we can get this resolved. This is a long-hanging chad that needs to get resolved.”