OURAY – A tradition rooted in the late 1800s, when mining was Ouray’s primary industry, will be returning after a three-year absence. At their Monday, Aug. 4 meeting, the Ouray City Council approved a Special Events Permit for the Ouray Highgraders Holiday, to be held Aug. 23-24, overlapping with the Grillin’, Chillin’ and Thrillin’ Music and Brewfest, hosted at the same site by the Ouray Chamber Resort Association.
The Highgraders Holiday, which will take place at its usual spot in the Hot Springs Pool parking lot, has in the past drawn miners from Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska for traditional mining activity contests such as hole drilling and shoveling ore into cars.
This will be the first time that alcoholic beverages are served at the event, according to City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli.
$870K Ice Park Appraisal Could Be Reduced
An appraisal of the Ouray Ice Park that was completed in June by the U.S. Forest Service could be amended, offering renewed hope that the city may be able to afford to buy the park. The June appraisal came in at an unapproachable $870,000, but the Ouray County Land Use Code could change the figure, and will be considered by USFS Appraiser Tanya Henderson.
Ouray City officials Bob Risch and Patrick Rondinelli and Ouray County Commissioners Heidi Albritton and Don Batchelder met with Henderson in July to ask her to reconsider the valuation. Henderson had arrived at her figure by utilizing a “highest and best use” valuation of the parcel, and did not factor in density limitations set by the county land use code.
“An amended appraisal will provide the city with a set value that can then be worked to determine funding,” said Rondinelli in an Aug. 1 administration report.
Albritton noted at a board of county commissioners meeting on July 28 that Ouray District Ranger Tammy Randall-Parker and USDA Forest Service Supervisor Charlie Richmond traveled to Washington, D.C., to present the possibility of a phased purchase. According to Albritton, the Forest Service had not considered that approach in the past but indicated that it would approve a phased purchase in this case.
Batchelder told the commissioners that a land swap was not an option.
Stuller to Join Council
Former Telluride Town Attorney and two-year Ouray resident Sandy Stuller will be filling a vacancy on the city council left by former Councilmember Janet Armstrong, who resigned in July.
Stuller will be sworn in at the Aug. 18 council meeting and will complete the remainder of Armstrong’s term, which expires in 2009.
Stuller served as Pitkin County Attorney from 1976 to 1981 and later as Telluride Town Attorney. She had a private practice in Aspen before moving to San Miguel County. Last year, she conducted a housing needs assessment for the county, Town of Ridgway and City of Ouray to create an Affordable Housing Authority, which is now in place.
Stuller’s appointment is being seen as an opportunity to continue some of the initiatives that Armstrong championed, including affordable housing and home rule.