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County offices to land on Airport Road

Garfield County Public Health and the county’s Department of Social Services will be moving to a new building east of Rifle.

The Garfield County Commission decided at its regular meeting on Monday that the two services, now located in the Taughenbaugh Building at the corner of Taughenbaugh and Airport roads, will be relocated three miles to the east on Airport Road.

A 20,000-square-foot building will be built across the road from the Garfield County Airport at an estimated cost of $2.2 million.



Prior to Monday’s meeting, the commission was looking at two building sites, the one near the airport and another at the present site of the Rifle Branch of Garfield County Court at 1800 Railroad Ave.

Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who cast the one dissenting vote on the building’s location, expressed frustration that the services will be located so far from downtown Rifle.



“I think you’re making a huge mistake,” she said after commissioners Larry McCown and John Martin voted to build the facility near the airport.

“For the economy of Rifle and the customers who are going to be using it, it makes sense that it is in the core of Rifle,” Houpt said.

Another concern Houpt brought up is the construction and natural gas-related traffic on Airport Road.

McCown disagreed, pointing out that the new building won’t just serve people in Rifle, but people from Parachute, Silt and elsewhere.

“It clearly serves all of western Garfield County, not just Rifle,” he said. “It’s going to be a very accessible road and it will be a very safe road.”

The commissioners also pointed out that a Traveler bus would ferry people from downtown Rifle to the facility on Airport Road.

New offices at riding arena

In a related decision, the commission also approved up to $475,000 in improvements in the office area of the county riding arena to accommodate Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and the 4-H Club. These services are also located in the Taughenbaugh building.

The county plans to sell the Taughenbaugh building, Garfield County manager Ed Green said, so it’s important that new offices are found for all of these services.

The county will fund $100,000 of the riding arena project now, including some plumbing and concrete floors, and is seeking an energy impact grant for another $300,000.

Green said energy impact grants could also fund up to $1 million of the Airport Road building.

Green guessed that the Airport Road building will be ready for occupancy by May 2005.

The outcome of both grants should be known by August, Green said.

In other business, the commissioners:

– Discussed whether to make the old fire station at the corner of Four Mile and Dry Park roads into a Garfield County Road and Bridge Department substation.

– Discussed a proposal to change the county parking lot at 8th Street and Pitkin Avenue from one-hour parking to two-hour parking and add three motorpool spaces. The discussion is part of an ongoing negotiation with the city of Glenwood Springs to reconfigure parking lots in downtown Glenwood Springs.

– Approved an air monitoring program near EnCana gas wells on Grass Mesa, where residents had been complaining of fumes. The monitoring project is expected to cost $50,000 to $80,000. The monitoring company will be chosen by the county and the bill will be sent to EnCana, Commissioner Martin said.

– Decided to open up all county board and commission vacancies to the public rather than make appointments Monday. The boards with vacancies currently include the Energy Advisory Board, the Garfield County Planning Commission, the Fair Board and the Grand Valley Cemetery Board.

– Discussed changing mineral leasing formulas for the county to get more money from the natural gas industry.

– Approved signing letters of support to state representatives to keep an insect-hatching facility in Palisade open. The insectary, which produces beneficial insects that fight noxious weeds, is facing possible closure because of state budget cuts.

– Discussed proposed work on rebuilding the historic Satank Bridge near Carbondale.

– Approved Xcel Energy’s request for permission to rebuild a power line on County Road 215.

– Purchased several pieces of equipment for Garfield County Road and Bridge.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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