State of the community event reveals the obvious about Rifle: Growth |

State of the community event reveals the obvious about Rifle: Growth

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE ” The word of the day was growth.

And Rifle and the surrounding area are seeing a lot of it these days.

Several speakers at Thursday’s Third State of the Community Luncheon, organized by the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and held at the Rifle Creek Golf Course,

said the city and the community were in the midst of a large growth boom, most of it spurred by the burgeoning natural gas industry in the area.

Speakers included Rifle city manager John Hier, Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown, Williams Production RMT district manager Steve Soychak, Glenn Ault

with Aspen Sotheby’s International Realty, and Martie Wisdom, chief executive officer of the Grand River Hospital District.

Hier said the last several years for the city have been a “roller-coaster” ride.

“The challenges have been many, the times are interesting, and Rifle, this community and this area are going to be an area that is definitely on the move,” Hier said. “This will be the busiest year we have experienced.”

Hier said that if growth continues through the rest of 2008 as it has, everyone in the audience would be wearing “these,” and then he put a yellow construction hat on his head. That gesture evoked a roar of laughter from the crowd.

“We are indeed a city that is building infrastructure and experiencing an extensive amount of growth,” Hier said.

Hier said in 2006, the city issued 176 building permits, while in 2007 there were 198 permits issued.

More permits are expected to come because several developments are slated for the city and the area, Hier said.

A 570-acre property south of the Rifle Creek Golf Course might see 1,500 residential units. To the west of that property, across Colorado Highway 13 and north of the city of Rifle, a development still in the planning phase could see another 1,500 units of

combined residential and commercial development, Hier said.

Still another development that is further along in the review process is a 160-acre property northeast of the city that is slated to have 550 residential units, Hier said.

“When all these developments are through the review process and are actually

building infrastructure, you are going to see an intensive amount of growth,” Hier said. “(The city is) making tremendous strides to move forward to build infrastructure

to accommodate all of the recent growth and the development that is around us and

still coming.”

Hier said the biggest need Rifle faces is generating capital. City officials have

identified at least $62 million in infrastructure needs in the next five to six years, Hier

said. To help pay for some of the city’s infrastructure needs, it will be aggressive in

trying to share in the millions of dollars the state generates from natural gas

extraction, Hier said.

“We are a changing community, we are a growing community,” Hier said. “We are

committed, the city council, our staff, are committed to build a community you all will

be proud of.”

Commissioner McCown, whose district includes Rifle, echoed Hier’s comments

about growth in the area.

“I think it is probably fair to say that if we take a census today, you are the largest city

in Garfield County,” McCown told the audience at the luncheon, which brought out

mostly Rifle residents and business owners. “If you listen to (Hier) there are almost

3,350 housing units in the basket right now. There (are) well over 10,000 people that

are on the immediate horizon.”

McCown said local businesses cannot thrive without growth, and that as a

commissioner he has been a proponent of growth in the county. He added that the

county budget for 2008 topped $109 million.

“We have got departments in Garfield County now that have larger budgets than the

entire county budget was in 1996 when I came on board,” McCown.

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