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Garfield mayors’ meetings are back

Greg Masse

There’s a new forum for municipal leaders to discuss regional issues – the formerly dormant Garfield County mayors’ meetings.

On Tuesday, for the first time in several months, mayors and other representatives from Carbondale to Parachute met in Glenwood Springs and discussed issues that affect each municipality.

“What I would like to see us do is have a meeting every other month,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Don Vanderhoof said.

Vanderhoof said he’d like the bi-monthly meetings to become a bit more formal than they were in past incarnations.

“Each community who hosts it would be in charge of the meeting,” Vanderhoof said. “Then each community would have input and we could get a cross-section of the problems in each area.”

And while votes won’t be cast and decisions won’t be made at the meetings, the discussions could shed light on problems that could then be acted upon by each of the town boards and city councils.

“The whole idea for a mayors’ meeting is to get something accomplished,” Garfield County Commission Chairman John Martin said. “We put the hard issues out here and resolve them.”

The meetings, which are open to the public, will take place at 7 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every other month, starting in July. The location of the meetings, as Vanderhoof pointed out, will rotate from town to town.

“I think we should all stand as one against the county,” Vanderhoof joked, to the chagrin of Martin.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Grand Hogback bus route was the main agenda item at Tuesday’s meeting. The new route shuttles people between Glenwood Springs and Rifle. The route is averaging close to 35 passengers per day.

RFTA executive director Dan Blankenship blames the low ridership numbers on a less-than-convenient schedule and the fact that it’s off-season.

“We think the summer will be a big test for this service,” he said.

Blankenship, however, insisted Tuesday that RFTA is still “gung-ho” on the service and will let it run for at least a year before giving it any serious evaluation.

“There are no immediate plans to pull the plug on it,” he said.

In mid-June, Blankenship said more runs will be added to the Hog route.

“Plus some tinkering,” Blankenship told the mayors.

The eventual goal will be to have a run each way every hour, he said. “If we could get it to hourly service, which is our goal, we would increase ridership. Ultimately we would like to have a farebox recovery ratio of 35 to 40 percent.”

Then there was Glenwood Springs’ coming need for a new cemetery. The city-owned cemetery will reach capacity within the next couple of years and city leaders are searching for a new one.

“We need to get the planning underway before it gets critical,” Glenwood Springs City Councilman Larry Emery said. “It’s not one of those issues you think about every day.”

The plan is to find out how many cemeteries are in the region and how close each is to capacity. There has been talk of building a regional cemetery.

A cemetery questionnaire will be created and distributed, then discussed at the next meeting, scheduled at 7 a.m. on July 16 at the New Castle Cafe.

The proliferation of communication towers was next on the agenda. The towers are going up all over the place. Martin encouraged town and city leaders in the area to pass laws forcing companies to share towers, a move that would cut down on the number that are built.

“What we really stress is co-location,” Martin said.

Regionwide weed eradication and control efforts also were discussed. Each mayor will look into his town’s efforts and bring his findings back at another meeting.


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