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Rifle talks razing old water plant for housing developments

The old water plant at 1500 Dogwood Drive in Rifle.
Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

One of Rifle’s former water treatment centers sits in the midst of single-family dwellings in a residential neighborhood.

On Wednesday, city officials proposed the possibility of razing the defunct facility, Graham Mesa Water Plant, and converting the land for housing developments.

“It’s going to cost about $600,000 to make the land ready for construction,” City Manager Tommy Klein said. “There are some asbestos tiles in the ceiling and the floor, which is typical for a building that age.”



In 2014, city officials began accepting bids to build the current $30 million Rifle Regional Water Purification Facility. The Graham Mesa plant was noticeably aging and couldn’t support the city’s growing population.

The Graham Mesa location has since been decommissioned once the new plant opened in 2017. With its estimated knock-down costs so high, city officials proposed pursuing one of several options.



1. Sell the 2.14-acre property as is, stipulating that the buyer raze the existing facility;

2. Remove the facility at city’s expense then sell the property;

3. Use the parcel for single-family, attainable housing;

4. Transfer the property under the condition the buyer razes the structures;

5. Clear the lot first then transfer the lot to a builder.

Klein said the city recently looked into applying for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant that awards funds toward razing infrastructure deemed unsafe. The old facility, however, proved ineligible for these federal funds.

“It was too clean,” Klein said.

Instead, discussions during Wednesday’s workshop revolved closely around accepting proposals from contractors.

“I think the only option, if we want to take it down, is to do a request for proposal and see if anyone would want to come in,” Klein said. “We would have to sell it for $1, and with the stipulation that they take everything down properly, and that they build single-family homes, because it’s a nice neighborhood.”

Rifle City Council member Brian Condie expressed interest in the city first cleaning and clearing the property before making it available for single-family homes or senior housing.

Immediately giving the property to a contractor before razing the facility could create a potential for botching the project, Condie reasoned.

“They estimate it and they run into problems they didn’t look at, they’re not going to clean it up right,” he said. “They’re going to walk away from it or dump it somewhere they’re not supposed to.”

Whether Rifle razes its old water facility or relinquishes the project to a contractor, Klein said either scenario seems economically unfeasible.

Answering a question made by Rifle Council Member Sean Strode, Klein said he’s also been in talks with nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity over the possibility of converting the property for housing.

“I gave (Habitat) a smaller estimate, and they said it wouldn’t be feasible unless they did triplexes and quads,” he said. “And in my opinion, we couldn’t allow that to happen.”

Rifle Mayor Ed Green expressed support for the city first razing the facility before the property exchanges ownership.

“I really think it’s our responsibility to clean it up,” he said. “We don’t know totally what is wrapped up in that area. There’s always wonderful surprises when you’re remediating an area.”

Council made no decision, and Klein said the city plans to continue talks over what to do with the Graham Mesa Water Plant.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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