New Castle ‘gathering information’ concerning RMR limestone quarry expansion
Town Council may vote on resolution supporting Glenwood Springs at a later date
New Castle Mayor Pro-Tem Grady Hazelton had a message Tuesday evening for those who thought the town was not supporting Glenwood Springs in its fight against the quarry expansion proposed by Rocky Mountain Resources (RMR).
“I want this to just be on the record that, that’s just not true,” he said.
Instead, Hazelton said the council was gathering information ahead of potentially voting on a resolution in support of Glenwood’s ongoing battle against RMR.
Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Silt, Rifle and Pitkin County have already approved such resolutions. Additionally, Glenwood Springs officials will go before the city of Aspen on Nov. 12 to petition for its support, too.
New Castle has not drafted a resolution of support but may do so at a later date for the council to consider.
RMR has plans to vastly expand the existing Transfer Trail limestone quarry on federally leased land north of Glenwood Springs.
Tuesday, to assist New Castle in its gathering information phase, Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa, Mayor Jonathan Godes and Councilor Rick Voorhees delivered a presentation to the town council concerning the potential quarry expansion’s regional implications should the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approve RMR’s plans.
“Glenwood Springs has lived in harmony with the existing mine for many, many years and would’ve continued to do so,” Voorhees said. “However, this proposal, we think, is outrageous.”
Voorhees, who represents West Glenwood Springs, painted a grim picture of what 450 truck trips per day and around-the-clock operations would mean for residents, tourists and businesses.
“Instead of shale, it will be tourism,” Godes said referencing Black Sunday when Exxon in the early 80s abruptly shut down its Colony Oil Shale Project in western Garfield County. “I just don’t think that we as a region, whether it be water or it be limestone, need to be the place where the Front Range continues to go to extract and to damage our way of life and our economy in order to build theirs up.”
Following the presentation, New Castle resident Jamin Heady-Smith voiced concerns over the fact that the town of New Castle’s attorney David McConaughy was also representing RMR.
The law firm of Garfield & Hecht, which McConaughy works for, represents the town of New Castle according to Town Administrator David Reynolds.
“My first reaction was, ‘How is that even possible?” Heady-Smith said. “He needs to figure out what side of the fence he’s on and if he can’t do that, the town of New Castle needs to find an attorney on its side of the fence only.”
Attempting to avoid a back and forth, Hazelton defended McConaughy’s record as the town’s attorney for over two decades and felt that there was “not a direct conflict of interest.”
“He steps aside. He will not be here. He’s not here tonight,” Town Councilor Bruce Leland added of McConaughy. “Yeah, it’s unfortunate. It’s too bad but as [Hazelton] said lawyers do this all the time.”
McConaughy told the Post Independent Wednesday that he had disclosed the potential conflict of interest regarding RMR to the town of New Castle and had recused himself and the law firm Garfield & Hecht, P.C. from advising the town on “any matter involving RMR.”
Additionally, according to Reynolds, any legal advice, discussion and documents related to the strip mine proposal will be developed from sources separate from Garfield & Hecht and all associates.
“The law firm of Garfield & Hecht has diligently represented the town of New Castle for many years,” Reynolds said. “Due to a current and clear conflict of interest Garfield & Hecht has recused themselves from communicating in any way with the town of New Castle regarding any issues related to the proposed strip mine in Glenwood Springs.”
New Castle Mayor Art Riddile and Councilor Scott Owens were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
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More trails will open for the season on Sunday for mountain bikers in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Glenwood Springs.