Rifle voters pass roads bond issue
RIFLE – Rifle voters elected three new city council members Tuesday night and passed a bond issue to improve roads and traffic in the city.Sandy Vaccaro, Jonathan Rice, and Jeff Johnson will fill three vacant city council seats. They will be sworn in on Sept. 15. “I’m thrilled I’ll be able to serve for four more years,” said Vaccaro.”I’m certainly pleased to be given the opportunity,” said Rice. “I hope I can please the people who voted for me and gain the respect of the people who didn’t,” said Johnson.The three men beat out three other candidates to win the at-large election. Vaccaro received the most votes with 735, Rice received 608, and Johnson 590.Candidates who were not elected to the three open council seats were Carolyn Bernhardt with 540 votes, Rae Ann Bartels with 343, and John Getty with 285.The city sent out 2,419 ballots to its active voters and 1,152 were returned, according to Rifle city clerk Wanda Nelson, for a 47 percent turnout.
One concern all the new council members share is growth in Rifle.Johnson, an architect, said, “I think Rifle should be in a pro-growth mode as long as it’s managed properly. Ultimately, growth will be a good thing.” “Plan it,” said Vaccaro, a Rifle Middle School social studies teacher. “We need to be ahead of it and have plans for it.” He also mentioned infilling vacant land in town rather than moving new development out of town as a way to manage growth. “You need to have growth,” said Rice, a Rifle High School civics and world history teacher and football coach. He said a large number of people in Rifle enjoy the small town feel and it is important to respect that.”I would say I’m slow growth,” he said.In addition to making sure the city’s infrastructure is in place, Vaccaro also plans to focus on recreation.”Recreation has been on the back burner way too long,” he said. Vaccaro said Rifle is in the same place as far as recreation is concerned as it was 10 years ago.Vaccaro said he’d like to see Deerfield Park finished and try to get a recreation center built.Johnson said one essential utility to Rifle which hasn’t yet arrived is the high-speed Internet access.He said the utility is essential for Rifle residents to be able to telecommute and for the city to attract high-tech companies.
In addition to electing new city council members, voters also passed a bond issue, allowing the city to sell $4.1 million in bonds to help pay for street projects throughout Rifle. “I’m thrilled with it,” said Mayor Keith Lambert of the issue passing. “And very thankful to the public.”The proposed roads and streets are projects that have been hanging around for years,” he said. “There’s not a tremendous amount of projects, but they are significant.”Among the planned projects are two roundabouts at the Interstate 70 on- and off-ramps on Taughenbaugh Boulevard. A third roundabout, at Airport Road and Taughenbaugh Boulevard, will connect the Grand River Medical Center, the new Super Wal-Mart store and adjacent commercial developments currently under construction. The bond issue passed by a vote of 957 to 181.Rifle voters also:-Renewed a franchise for Xcel Energy as the city’s electricity provider.-Approved a charter amendment that will allow City Council to pass emergency ordinances with only one reading and publication. Previously, five days had to pass before emergency ordinances passed by council went into effect. Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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