OURAY – Ouray Ice Park, Inc. presented the City of Ouray with a check for $6,000 at the Ouray City Council meeting Monday, Feb. 6. The check signifies OIPI’s contribution toward the city’s impending purchase of a 24-acre parcel of U.S. Forest Service land in the Ouray Ice Park.
“We want to say ‘thank you very much’ for your work,” OIPI board member Brad McMillon told city officials. “We know it’s been many years preparing for this land purchase from the Forest Service. It helps us in a big way. We can create more routes for the climbers without going through the federal bureaucracy. Hopefully it will streamline a lot of our procedures. We’re really looking forward to working with you guys in the future.”
OIPI is the nonprofit entity that manages operations at the Ouray Ice Park and puts on the annual Ouray Ice Festival.
Ouray Mayor Bob Risch accepted the check from McMillon with undisguised glee. “This has been a personal project and a favorite of mine for at least 10 years,” he said. “I really appreciate the cooperation.”
Adding to the feel-good vibe, Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli chipped in with comments that “OIPI this whole year has been phenomenal to work with” and added special congratulatory comments for the success of the 2012 Ouray Ice Festival.
“It was perhaps our best one yet,” McMillon said, “and we’re looking forward to improving it next year.”
City officials anticipate closing on the deal to acquire the Ice Park parcel by the end of February. Last-minute details to be sorted out include organizing easements for utilities and roads, executing a Land Management Plan for the Ice Park and acquiring title insurance.
The City of Ouray began the process of attempting to purchase land from the Forest Service, which includes the Ouray Ice Park as well as the Ouray Police Department’s shooting range, in 1998. In 2005, the city submitted a Townsite Act application with the Forest Service for the purchase. Through a process spanning many years, the city and Forest Service eventually settled on a price of $277,000 for the land.
Key funding for the acquisition came in the form of a $193,000 grant awarded to the city in December 2011 by Great Outdoors Colorado, a Colorado Lottery-funded entity.
At its meeting Monday, council also formally approved the Forest Service’s appraisal and agreed to the purchase of the land, with an enthusiastic “Let’s do it!” from Councilmember Richard Kersen.
In other news:
• Council went against staff recommendation and approved a temporary liquor license for the HT & Associates LLC, the new proprietors of the Bon Ton Restaurant and St. Elmo Hotel. This temporary permit allows the new owners, who recently acquired the property in a lease purchase deal, to sell alcohol on the premises while their application for transfer of the existing liquor license in the name of the previous owners is processed by the city and the state.
In a memo to council, City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli advised against granting the temporary permit, instead urging council to conduct a public hearing with respect to the transfer of the existing liquor license.
Explaining the staff recommendation, Rondinelli referred to a letter from applicant Tim Tucker to council referring to his “past criminal history” stemming from an incident in 1989-1990 and assuring council of his rehabilitation.
“Based upon preliminary review of the transfer application by the staff, and by statements made by the applicant in the attached letter, the staff feels that denial of the temporary permit and a public hearing would be appropriate for the transfer application,” Rondinelli stated.
Nevertheless, council approved the temporary liquor license, with no discussion. Tucker was present at the meeting but did not make a statement.
• The City of Ouray’s Beautification Committee has purchased 19 new American flags to display along Main Street next summer, as well as seedlings to line the North Ouray Corridor trail system. Committee members have also expressed interest in resurrecting the long-mothballed Sixth Avenue project on a more limited scope than that first proposed by the committee some years ago. Current improvements being discussed for the block of Sixth Avenue in downtown Ouray between Main Street and Fourth Street would include paving, lighting, signage and trees.
• The Ouray Chamber Resort Committee and the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce are jointly planning a new event to take place this spring: the first annual Ouray County Mudfest. Action will be centered at the Ouray County Fairgrounds, but there will also be family-centered activities in Ouray’s Rotary Park.
• The city building inspector has been actively enforcing snow removal laws pertaining to city sidewalks. This comes after Councilman John Ferguson voiced concern last month that there is uneven enforcement and compliance with the laws. City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli said that the city has issued letters to property owners who are not tending to their sidewalks, outlining standards of code. After letters have been issued, follow-up inspections will take place, and if there is still noncompliance, “we’ll then move on to more aggressive tactics,” he said.