ERIC JAMES HEIL, ESQ., A.I.C.P.
Rico Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 56
Rico, CO 81332
RE: Attorney Report for July
This is my attorney report for the July Town Board meeting.
Town Manager Resignation: I believe we are all saddened to receive Ashton’s notice of resignation; however, turn-over is one of the realities of public administration and the value of continuity with permanent employees (like Linda and Dennis) is often easy to under appreciate. I am involved with many projects on behalf of the Town and would like to continue pursuing them. Many of these projects do require some level of ‘town administration,’ so I find myself in a position of needing a minimum level of town administration just to enable me to continue with several projects.
As you are aware, I have recently hired a full-time assistant with the idea of helping with the many pending projects in Rico and in Ophir, and to enable my business to expand in the region. So, at this time, I feel like I am in a position to offer my help with some of the administrative functions of the Town, at least for the near term. Being that I am currently involved with many aspects of the Town and served as the Town Manager when restructuring finances and creating Dennis’s position, the town manager position, marshal/judge/prosecutor, as well as financial policies and capital improvement plans, I believe I could cover the basic functions very well.
This situation is new for all of us, but I think what would work for me and for the Town would be to provide some administrative services at $50/hour with estimated 12 to 20 hours per week. I am not sure how it will go, but I would like to see the Town keep ‘going’, so I present this at least as an interim measure. While I have not followed the Town Budget and finances closely the last year, I do have confidence that we can continue all the Town projects and still keep the budget balanced and on track. Lastly, Town will need to have a draft 2005 budget prepared by October 15th by state budget law. I believe it is unlikely that you would be able to hire a new person who could complete this task in this timeframe.
Regarding the vacancy of the position, I strongly encourage the Town to spend some time reviewing where we are with all projects, what our needs and demands are and what our financial resources are. Also, I would like to discuss recruitment process, different techniques, cost, timeframe and goals. I have served municipalities through numerous manager and director level turn-overs and offer my advice that you can do more harm by making a quick and hasty decision (i.e. the wrong town manager will be far worse than no town manager!).
Finally, I would like to discuss the potential to focus on a Public Works Director position for two reasons. First, Ashton has succeed in accomplishing many of the initial goals that were envisioned when he was hired, including obtaining funding for the sewer project, courthouse renovation project, and several other projects (DDA, Watershed Planning). At this point, I believe Town is ready and capable of evolving from planning and applying for financing to doing construction projects. Therefore, an experienced, professional engineer may have practical benefits. Second, in my experience, experienced Public Works Directors typically manage departments and budgets that are larger than our entire town government, so I believe such a person would possess many of the basic public administration skills you would desire in a Town Manager. I believe it would be worthwhile to consider this option as an alternative to merely attempting to fill the vacancy left by Ashton (which I do not believe will be easy, if possible).
Work Session: The first regular work session is scheduled for July 28th. A proposed agenda is:
(1) review of sewer project, tasks, timelines and cash flow [outline of all issues that must be addressed between now and breaking ground to start the project].
(2) discussion of Town Manager and Public Works Director [overview of staff functions and administrative needs, town financial resources, needs in relationship to pending projects and recruitment process].
(3) discussion of future work session topics [probably budget for September work session, maybe Town Manager/Public Works Director/Town Staff in August].
The work session format is a public meeting; however, it would be important from my position as staff to focus on staff-Town Board discussion (i.e. not digressing to explain every issue to anyone who happens to show-up). Also, I think it is more productive to conduct the meeting by sitting around the table rather than the ‘Town Board facing the public’ format. I also intend to provide back-up materials prior to the meeting to facilitate discussion. Work sessions are new for us, so please give some thought to what you would like to get out of them and how best they can be coordinated. Sometimes we may wish to do site walks, sometimes having dinner during the work session is a convenience.
Sewer: Love Appraisals has completed the Appraisal of the Pasadena Reduction Tract site, which is included with this packet. As a courtesy, I believe we should let Mr. Clark see this appraisal before it is disclosed to the public. Please keep this Appraisal Confidential. We can schedule an executive session at the work session for discussion (both work session and executive session are no-action items).
Regarding general condemnation advice, we have requested an overview letter from Malcom Murray of Gorsuch Kirgis, LLC., on condemnation procedures and costs (which is enclosed). This is a basic overview of the process. The procedure which does not require immediate possession seems to be the only practical alternative because Town does not have acquisition funds to provide to court in an immediate possession hearing and the federal and state grant funds can not be used for condemnation actions.
Mike Hannigan is working on engineering analysis and Chris Wilbur is working on flood plain analysis. I should have an update on their progress by the meeting. Also, I should have cost numbers by the work session for the additional sewer site studies.
I plan to have some information about the wetlands fill permit process for the North Cemetery Site for the July work session.
I believe that covers all the aspects of the additional sewer site studies. A public meeting will need to be set to present additional sewer site information to the public and get updated direction from Town Board. We can do a special meeting (like August 11th), or combine with regular Town Board meeting on August 18th, start the meeting earlier (like 6:00 p.m.) and try to keep it from an hour to hour and half.
DWCD Water User Agreement: I attended the regular Board of Directors meeting for DWCD on Thursday, July 8th, to provide an update on the petitions to join DWCD, watershed planning, mine discharges and the sewer project. DWCD has a new director, Phillip Saletta, and several new board members, so this was a good meeting to show-up, give an update, and preserve some continuity. DWCD was generally satisfied and supportive of Rico’s progress on all these issues and I believe they appreciated the update. I plan to submit a grant application to Southwest Water Conservancy District by the next Board meeting for legal and engineering work to pursue the new water source on the Dolores River.
EPA-ARCO: Included is a July 1st letter from Max Dodson to Tom Clark responding my comment letter on behalf of the Town. I have prepared a very general acknowledgement and response letter for Tom Clark to sign and return on behalf of the Town Board. At this point, I am pleased that the lead health risk issue is proceeding at a pace that the Town Board and community can follow, and that EPA appears to be giving significant consideration to Town’s preference. So with regard to Mr. Dodson’s request that Town consider supporting an Administrative Order on Consent, I believe the Town Board can best decide. I do think that it would be best to complete the soils sampling, review the data, and discuss health risk and appropriate clean-up before considering Mr. Dodson’s request to support an AOC.
EPA-Estates of Webster and Sell: Nothing new has occurred since the last Town Board meeting. At the last Town Board, the Board supported providing a letter stating that Town does not object to entry of consent decree with estate of Virginia Sell and the Estate of Wayne Webster is ordering an appraisal on the value of the properties it owns.
ARCO – Rico Soils VCUP: I have provided additional comments on the Zone 1 and Zone 2 sampling areas to insure that all appropriate property owners are included in the sampling plan as decided earlier. I have also responded to about 12 calls from property owners with questions and helped ARCO get the access agreements to other property owners who did not receive one. And yes, Rico is really in Colorado, not Montana (it’s nice to see that one of the biggest corporations in the world makes typos also!)
ARCO-Rico Soils VCUP: Repository: I met with Mark Walker, Donna Stoner (CDPHE Solid Waste Management), Doug Yeadon with SEH (ARCO’s consultants), and Ramon and Stan to look at the proposed repository area north of town. Ms. Stoner said that the minimum permit processing time was 6 months and that no authority exists for temporary storage. Therefore, any removal action that occurs this summer, as expected by EPA for 3,000+ p/p/m residential yards, can not be legally stored at, or near, this site. Mark Walker and Donna Stoner stated that CDPHE would not pursue any action for violation if temporary storage occurred. I represented on behalf of the Town that, as a co-applicant to the draft VCUP, we would not support temporary storage of soils with lead if this would technically violate solid waste laws. I explained that Town has been very supportive, but it would not be acceptable if the very first action was to violate laws, even if Mark Walker and Donna Stoner said it would probably be OK.
We also discussed the permit review process. I suggested to Ramon that we consider annexing the north Rico area into Town so that the Town, rather than Dolores County, would act as the local government review agency. Ramon is supportive of this approach, so there will likely be more information in the near future. The DOLA grant for technical assistance was intended to help pay for reviewing these issues, establishing institutional controls, and establishing a “light industrial” zone district, so all this is generally following the original intent. Town would not incur any increased environmental liability for annexing this area, but would incur more administrative issues to conduct the reviewing hearings as the local government jurisdiction (but I understand that we would want to conduct such reviews rather than, or concurrently with, Dolores County).
TOSC-TAB: I spoke with Kevin Mellot and Weight Willis of TOSC this week to discuss utilizing their services for community based risk assessment of lead issues. I requested any information about the appropriate clean-up level of lead determined by other communities as well as other general information so that we can start to familiarize ourselves with the risk analysis issues before we get the soil sample data results. I am not sure how fast we will want to determine the appropriate clean-up level as a community once the soil sampling results are available, so I think it would be good if we started to get ready. Mr. Willis also had comments on the soil sampling methodology. Mr. Mellot and Mr. Willis are visiting Rico next week and will be available at the Town Board meeting. There should be time on the agenda to ask questions.
EPA – RGI Watershed Planning Grant: I prepared and submitted the EPA’s RGI-Watershed Planning Grant application to the EPA last week. A copy of the work plan is included for your information. Under this proposal, I am including myself to do the “Local Planning Coordinator” work which I have discussed with Marc Alston, EPA, who has stated his support. This grant is in the amount of $30,000 with $3,000 cash match by Town and $3,000 cash match from DOLA project. EPA expects to award grant funding in September but will allow reimbursement of work performed prior to grant award with pre-approval (in contrast to State). So, I will keep track of hours and cost for limited work prior to grant award, then bill when (and if) grant is awarded. I hope to schedule an initial stakeholders meeting in August, probably on the day of the Planning Commission meeting so that various consultants can all meet with Planning Commission and we can introduce Watershed Planning Project.
The Wetlands Mapping grant in the amount of $15,000 was also approved with a $5,000 match. I will request that Rico Renaissance pay the $5,000 match. I have also contacted Corey Sue Derfus to see if we can schedule her this fall for mapping.
Colorado Heritage Program: The Colorado Heritage Program is affiliated with Colorado State University. They have contacted Town and have plans to come down and perform a characterization of wetlands in our river corridor area. This is good extra analysis work that can be incorporated into watershed planning documents. Also, this work will provide valuable information for future wetlands mitigation if needed by Town for North Cemetery sewer site or by Rico Renaissance for future development activities that impact wetlands.
CWCB: Matrix Design Group is beginning their geomorphic analysis of the river corridor in the near future. I have a meeting with them in Denver scheduled on Monday, July 26th (after the first day of the Brownfields conference I am attending). Matrix Design Group’s work will fit in well with the watershed planning effort.
USGS Stream Gauging: We have the agreement with USGS to continue stream gauging. Before we sign this agreement, we need an agreement and payment from ARCO. The existing funding for stream gauging runs through this fall, so we have time to get the necessary agreements and payments, hopefully by the August Town Board meeting.
Rico Regional Master Plan Update: The Planning Commission adopted the revised master plan at their June meeting. Town Board consideration can be scheduled for a public hearing at the August meeting. I will post and publish notices.
Rico Muldoon/Richard Lincoln: Planning Commission took unanimous action to recommend denial of a proposed master plan amendment by Richard Lincoln to trade the upper half of the Rico Muldoon for land owned by the Town. Mr. Lincoln has not decided if he wants to proceed to the Town Board for a final decision. By code, he has 4 months to proceed or the application will expire.
July Planning Commission meeting: This month, the Rico Planning Commission will meet on Thursday, July 22nd. Agenda includes: (1) Site walk of proposed Hancock Subdivision [three proposed homesites], (2) discussion of 2004 work plan, and (3) review of Tract 1-Lot 1 Silverglance access easement.
San Juan Forest Service: I met with Mike Zernhold and Pat McCoy, Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest on Thursday, July 15th, to provide a copy of the regional master plan map and discuss Town of Rico-Forest Service issues generally. I provided a letter on behalf of Town stating that Town would like to be notified of any applications or FS actions in our 3 mile planning area and offering to FS use of Town Hall public meeting room for any required public hearings (a copy is included in your packet). Nothing is pending right now with a potential new road application in Burnett Creek.
Regarding the Rico Ballpark area, the FS is supportive of public softball field/picnic area/camping area, but wants an archeological survey performed if there is to be a cook pit and raking of the softball field. I will look at costs to see if this can be performed this summer/fall so we can work through an application this winter and possibly get the site re-opened to public next spring.
Regarding trails – FS is supportive of volunteer group maintaining trails. Taking an incremental approach, we should pick a trail to maintain this summer and use this for training with FS about trail maintenance. Eventually, FS would like to allow Town/RAS to propose constructing new trails. There would be a process first, and we would have to prove our ability to maintain trails and work with FS.
Regarding San Juan FS management plan revisions – FS has taken no actions yet, but plans to schedule a “scoping” meeting late this summer/fall. They intend to conduct a public hearing in Rico as part of scoping process.
Regarding Rico Renaissance land exchange – Renaissance has stated that they intend to proceed with an application in the near future. I have a meeting scheduled in Denver with Renaissance and Adam Poe of Water Land Group (biggest land exchange consultant in the country, which FS likes). So this process will likely get going in the next two months. The first task is to understand process and community involvement, but I do believe this area gets a substantial benefit just by going from 1,400 acres of scatter claims to < 300 acres in areas planned for development.
Downtown Development Authority: I organized a lunch meeting with business owners and property owners at the Rico Hotel to introduce the DDA (again) and get the process started. The meeting was well attended with some 16 attendees. All were supportive of the DDA, as well as several property owners that could not attend. I bought lunch for everyone (for good will and convenience for the Hotel) so whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch has not visited Rico. The DDA fee proposal agreement with Economic Region 9 was just signed this week, so the blight study will be ready for August Town Board meeting.
San Juan Skyway: The San Juan Skyway group has asked each of the five jurisdictions to appoint a representative. I am willing to represent Rico. With Ashton leaving, there is also the issue about administering the underlying Colorado Heritage Community grant application which Rico was doing.
Ashton and I met with Janice Whisman from GOCO who was touring the San Juan Skyway for the Legacy Grant Application. Due to the competitiveness of the grant application, we focused on the ice rink project, which Janice supported. The grant application information for the Legacy Grant portion is due next week. I also asked Janice if it would be a good idea to submit the Rico Ice Rink project in the next local government grant round with GOCO in September. She thought that was a good idea. I plan to attend a technical workshop in Ridgway next week for this grant application to GOCO. The grant request will be in the neighborhood of $250,000.00 with a $100,000 match. Matching funds could come from POST Fund, General Fund, Rico Development Center and other potential sources. Greg Anderson, Joe Croke and Tom Clark are helping with the numbers, so I suspect a small budget project is also possible.
County/School Study Committee: Nothing new to report.
Piedmont: Fred Thomas said he has a plat for Block B of Piedmont and will provide to me for review. I will also give a copy to Willy to review. This should drastically reduce the cost to Town of resolving the Piedmont survey discrepancies and road access issues.
SMPA Franchise Agreement: Second reading of the Rico-SMPA Franchise Agreement is presented for your consideration and action.
Historic Fire House – Architectural Assessment Grant: We are nearly finished with an Architectural Assessment Grant Application to the State Historic Society. My understanding is that public projects are still eligible for 100% grant funding for the architectural assessment. Mike Curran has approached me about considering this building and property for use as the Rico museum. I am generally very supportive of this idea because: (1) it is a public use rather than a private business, which avoids some of what is fair issues; (2) I believe it is a very good use for the center of Town, and if done properly with some retail in front, would serve as a significant visitor attraction; (3) I don’t believe the Rico Historic Society has other viable options at this time; and, (4) a Town/Rico Historic Society partnership project for a museum would be very attractive and competitive for grant funding, thus, feasible. On the other hand, I believe the Town Board should discuss this proposed public use rather than private business use (or rather than other public use, like Town something, or library) and needs to consider the composition and functionality of the Rico Historic Society. But, the first step is an architectural assessment, so I believe it is reasonable to proceed with this part and try to schedule a discussion of future uses, or presentation of a potential museum project.
Sesquicentennial: Town has appropriated funds for the Sesquicentennial event. After talking to the other community organizations I believe it would be a good idea to provide an outline of the events and proposed list of delegating duties so this event is organized.
DATE: Saturday, September 25th – 2:00 p.m. to end of Fireworks
Picnic/BBQ: Rico Fire Protection District
Beer: Rico Alpine Society (I’ll check if Dolores Brewing will do deal for us or sponsor)
Tent and Table Set-up/Hosting: Rico Women’s Club
Group Photo of Townsfolk: Rob Huber/Heil
Live Music (at 3:30 p.m.): Eric Heil, or other, to find band (probably regional, but I will contact Jereb Carter to see if something special can be arranged).
Guest Speaker: Jim Davidson (former resident of Rico, historian, and writer)
Volley Ball: Self-Serve
Tee-shirts: Rico Women’s Club (a box of shirts are already available)
Children’s games events: ????????????????????
Fireworks: Rico Fire Protection District
Extra Porta Potties?: Town of Rico/Heil
NOTES: Some direction on advertising should be given. I believe local paper, newsletter and posters around town would be sufficient for residents and those connected to Rico. We can also promote it regionally and try to attract a larger crowd, but I tend to think it will be plenty big just with residents and friends of Rico. It would also be good to provide more tent area than the 4th in case of rain. Extra tents could be set up in the Park Addition area. A sunny fall day would be perfect. Finally, the September 25th date is proposed because September 11th has too much baggage for many folks, the next week-end is Blues and Brews in Telluride, and fall colors should be right around peaking on the 25th.
Senator Isgar and Representative Larson said they may be interested in attending, so I will prepare an invite for the Mayor once the date is set by the Board (including Representative Ray Rose as well).
FUTURE WORK ITEMS:
To be discussed at work session.
Eric James Heil
Cc: Ashton Harrison, Town Manager
|LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN
COLORADO – ATTORNEY REGISTRATION NO. 22219
ADMITTED TO THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PLANNERS – CERTIFIED PLANNER NO. 018508
|P.O. BOX 189
OFFICE (970) 967-5550
|18 RIVER STREET
TELECOPIER (970) 967-5551
|RICO, CO 81332
|<- Previous Newsletter||Newsletter Index||Next Newsletter ->|