I want to thank everyone that came to the Ridgway/CDOT RAMP Transportation Project meeting at the Ridgway Elementary School auditorium on Monday night.
[Note: if you weren't able to attend the meeting, you can watch a video of it at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiMuq95SzdE ]
It was an extremely informative event, with presentations by representatives from CDOT and the engineering firm that has worked on the Town's downtown infrastructure project. Following the presentations, there was a lengthy Q&A, with questions from the audience directed to the presenters and Town Staff. An excellent dialogue ensued, with the audience contributing many creative ideas, in particular regarding possible additional/alternative funding options for the project.
As Mayor, I would like to say that the Ridgway Town Council should think long and hard about several of these options. If we decide to move forward with a ballot question to fund a portion of the cash match that the RAMP award requires, we need to make sure we explore every possible opportunity for generating the matching funds. The $500K DOLA grant and the fact that the bonds wouldn’t be issued until 2015 are hugely helpful in this regard, but as many stated at the meeting, we should do more.
One of the ideas involved finding a way to allow Ridgway community members who live outside the Town limits to contribute monetarily. I for one would love to hear from those of you that fall into that category and would support such an effort, so that we can explore how we might structure such a plan as soon as possible. More than one audience member suggested something as innovative as using a 'crowd-funding' website like Kickstarter, for example.
Another aspect of the debate continues to revolve around earmarking all or part of the Town's 0.6 percent sales tax that was passed in 2005 for capital improvements to the RAMP project. This has been discussed since the very beginning of the process, and the Town has continually stressed that there are many capital improvement projects in our long-term plans which keep us from committing a large portion to the downtown infrastructure improvements exclusively. It's my feeling now that we need to revisit the discussion at Council and see if there are things we might be able to shelve in lieu of these critical improvements.
Of course, as always, the devil is in the details. Town Council faces some very tough choices in this debate, but I feel it crucial that nothing be taken off the table when it comes to looking for ways to minimize the financial burden to the community, should we decide to go forward with the project.
I look forward to working with the community to find the right path in this process, in the same thoughtful, reasoned and respectful way we worked together on Monday night.
Many thanks again,
- Ridgway Mayor John I. Clark