Carbondale looks at 5-year plan for big projects
Post Independent Staff
CARBONDALE — Town officials will spend the next couple of months trying to figure out how to pay for numerous large-scale projects laid out in Carbondale’s 5-Year Capital Improvements Program, and most immediately how to pay for projects that are at this point scheduled for 2014.
The trustees, along with department heads and Town Manager Jay Harrington, will soon embark on discussions about the town’s budget for the coming year, and the trustees got a taste of what is to come on Aug. 26 from the heads of the public works, utilities and recreation departments.
Public Works director Larry Ballenger has been working closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on plans to expand and improve Highway 133 as it travels through town.
The overall project is currently estimated to cost more than $6.1 million, of which the town is predicted to be responsible for $500,000, according to figures provided to Ballenger by CDOT.
In addition, Ballenger said the town has received a Federal Mineral Lease District Grant in the amount of $300,000 that will go toward the cost to place overhead utility lines underground.
There is an additional $750,000 left over from the 2013 capital improvements budgets that can be used for the Highway 133 project as needed.
The 2014 portion of the project is anticipated to cost more than $510,000, nearly all of which is to come from CDOT, according to Ballenger’s summary.
Included in the 2014 section of the plan are line items of $5,000 to study two aspects of the Highway 133 improvements — a study of traffic patterns and volumes at the intersection of Dolores Way and Highway 133, and an evaluation of potential problems at the intersection of Village Road and Highway 133.
Trustee Pam Zentmyer, questioning Ballenger, asked about the need for the Dolores Way study, remarking, “I thought it had already been studied to death.”
But Ballenger said more details must be understood before construction begins at that section of the road.
Regarding work not related to Highway 133, Ballenger outlined a list of projects that are expected to cost a total of $726,000 in 2014.
The projects are to include construction of sidewalks along Hendrick Road and other streets, drywells at Village Road and $200,000 for general streets maintenance.
As proposed, the funding for these projects would involve $160,000 from the federal Highway Users Tax Fund, $20,000 in unnamed grants, $145,000 from the Garfield County Roads and Bridges Department, and $421,000 from Carbondale’s town coffers.
Zentmyer again questioned parts of Ballenger’s list of projects, in particular a proposed $40,000 extension of the pedestrian/bike trail along County Road 108, from Colorado Rocky Mountain School to the bridge over the Crystal River, in 2015.
“It’s a lot of money for something that’s not necessarily critical,” she said. She started to protest that the road is wide enough there to accommodate users, but cut short her statement in apparent frustration.
Recreation director Jeff Jackel presented a list of park improvement projects expected to cost $133,000 in 2014, if all are built, although the town’s share is expected to be $25,000, he said.
Jackel also reported on recreation program projects expected to cost about $420,000 in 2014, most of which is to be paid for by grants. Jackel’s list indicated that the town could be expected to come up with approximately $90,000 in “other donations or in-kind” funding.
The rec department projects for 2014 include a $250,000 “Community Sports Court Playground” at the southern edge of the Carbondale Middle School property, that Jackel said would be paid for using grant money from the Great Outdoors Colorado program (lottery proceeds), for which the town is applying because the school district is legally prohibited from seeking GOCO grants.
This prompted another bout of questions from Zentmyer, who noted, “We have other parks that need equipment replaced, so why are we using our GOCO grant for a project at the middle school. Can’t the school district pay for this?”
Jackel said the trustees have approved the project previously, and the general public will be able to use the facilities during the summers.
Concerning the utilities department, director Mark O’Meara told the trustees that in 2014 he expects to spend $222,500 on wastewater treatment plant maintenance and equipment, which is to be paid for by the department’s revenues from customers.
On water projects, O’Meara reported, he expects to spend $447,500, including $195,000 on a Nettle Creek hydroelectric plant, $110,000 on water plant improvements, and $75,000 on mini-hydro installations at different points along the water lines between Nettle Creek and town.
All of the costs outlined at the trustees meeting are subject to revision during the budget process, and at one point Mayor Stacey Bernot cautioned the others at the meeting that it is not likely that everything on the “wish list” will make the cut.
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