Rifle county offices should be kept in town | PostIndependent.com

Rifle county offices should be kept in town

A decision on where Garfield County should build new Rifle offices is coming down to one of convenience.

On one hand, there is plenty of land conveniently available at the county airport. But that’s three miles out of town. An in-town location on land the county owns at 1800 Railroad Ave. is also being considered. It would be far more convenient for the people the county serves, and for county employees.

Customer service should be the chief concern for county commissioners, who should keep offices located where they’re more easily accessible to the public.

The county’s Rifle offices are currently located at the Taughenbaugh facility. Those offices were never a perfect fit for their current role, having been built for residential use during the oil shale boom of the early 1980s. A carbon monoxide problem there in December helped force the issue of looking for new digs. Some employees became ill, and the county replaced faulty heating units and installed more CO alarms before reopening the facilities.

The timing is undoubtedly right for moving the Rifle offices. But building new ones at the airport, as County Commissioner Larry McCown advocates, would be wrong. The whole point of having offices in Rifle rather than just Glenwood is to improve their accessibility. The offices receive far too much use to warrant locating them outside of town. And some of the clientele being served by county departments such as social services and the public health nurse are less likely to have access to cars than most people do, which only makes a remote location all the less sensible.

McCown predicts that the offices would need to be expanded in 20 years, and says that could be done at a more reasonable price at the roomier airport location. But that’s dealing in hypotheticals. The immediate reality of building offices out of town would be poor land use planning that contributes to sprawl and further reliance on automobiles.

It would put people second, which is hardly a definition of good government.

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