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Garfield County to investigate sink holes in Rifle Village South

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Local resident Janet Ketelsleger is worried that her home in the Rifle Village South subdivision may soon fall into a sink hole. The hole appeared in her neighborhood years ago and is getting bigger, and Ketelsleger wants Garfield County to do something about it.

Ketelsleger and a couple of neighbors appeared before the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Monday asking the county government to shore up the ground and fill in several holes in the neighborhood that are as much as 15 feet deep.

Ketelsleger and a neighbor, Bruce Mills, both said they fear the sink holes may soon begin to undermine foundations and threaten homes.



The main sinkholes, according to a survey by HP Geotech of Glenwood Springs, are around the intersection of Shotgun Street and Colt Drive.

The homes developed by Larry Bradley in the vicinity of the intersection are on land close to an escarpment that drops down to the I-70 corridor. The subdivision is west of the commercial area at the main Rifle I-70 interchange.



Ketelsleger said she bought her house near the intersection in 2003 and immediately noticed sink holes forming near her property.

Believing the sinkhole to be tied to land owned by Garfield County, Ketelsleger said she repeatedly called the county’s road and bridge department for help.

Officials with the department told her they would need instructions from the BOCC to start work.

“So that’s why I’m here,” she said Monday.

BOCC chairman John Martin said he had heard nothing of this problem until Ketelsleger asked for time on the board’s agenda.

But Commissioner Mike Samson said he had toured the site and gotten “an eye-opening experience.”

After looking at the lay of the land, Samson continued, he concluded that “there’s some definite, major problems in constructing houses on that terrain. I don’t think it was done right.”

Mills said a significant concern is a flow of water that feeds nearby Lake Toueye, a recreational amenity of the Lake Toueye Water Ski Club. One possible explanation for the sink hole, he said, would be that the flow of water is undermining the soils beneath the subdivision.

“In hindsight, those houses should not have been built,” he said following the meeting.

But Steve Campbell, one of the owners of the ski club and the lake, said in a letter to Ketelsleger that he believes the problem is the responsibility of the county.

The letter, dated Sept. 17, 2011, notes that the club itself repaired a sink hole at the same intersection in 2004.

But, the letter continues, “The current sink hole is not on our property, we are not responsible for it, and we are not inclined to repair it.”

The BOCC directed its staff to investigate the problem and report back on the findings.

In other action the BOCC:

• Awarded a $358,000 contract to Palisade Constructors of Palisade to improve drainage structures along County Road 137, Canyon Creek Road. The work, which is to be finished by next spring, is part of a larger, $1 million in planned improvements to the road.

• Approved a contract for county attorney Andrew Gorgey, at an annual salary of $130,000, for the calendar year 2012.

• Approved payment of an additional $200,000 for the county’s bulk fuel purchases for 2011, bringing the total for the year to $860,000. Public Works Director Betsy Suerth explained that the price of fuel shot up by nearly 50 percent, from roughly $2 per gallon last fall to roughly $3 per gallon now.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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