County rethinks Rifle office location, eyeballs in-town, fairgrounds site
Rifle City Council and Garfield County Commissioners agreed Monday to consider the Garfield County Fairgrounds as a new site for the county services building.
City and county officials entered an agreement Monday night that calls for building the county facility at the Cooper Field ballpark at the fairgrounds instead of the previously approved Airport Road site.
The new building will house the Department of Social Services and Garfield County Public Health.
In March, Commissioners John Martin and Larry McCown voted in favor of building the new county offices at a site on Airport Road, three miles outside of city limits. Commissioner Tresi Houpt voted no, favoring an in-town location convenient for the agencies’ clients.
City officials and staff of the county Human Resources Department have also urged the commissioners to stay within city limits to better accommodate those who use the services.
However, the fairgrounds site comes with stipulations.
Cooper Field, which is used by the Garfield Re-2 School District for baseball games, must be relocated from the fairgrounds to Deerfield Park by February 2005 in time for play next year.
The cost of constructing a new ballfield at Deerfield Park, a newer subdivision north of Rifle, is estimated at $500,000. Funding for that would come from a grant and contributions from the city, county and private donations.
Cooper Field ballpark would have to be vacant by November so construction of the new county building can start.
John Scalzo, former mayor of Rifle, said he fears building at Cooper Field will be a death knell for the fairgrounds. He suggested looking at the vacant Columbine Market building in downtown Rifle.
City and county staff will complete the agreement by early June.
Editor’s note: Look for a more detailed report on this issue in the Citizen Telegram on Thursday.
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