City Manager Dennis speaks at VIBE meeting

Photo by Marie Mccolm Monte Vista City Manager Gigi Dennis speaks during the Optimysticas Citizen’s Action Network held a Very Important Business Engagement (VIBE) meeting on Friday, Jan. 6 at Stars and Strikes Bowling Alley.

MONTE VISTA — The Optimysticas Citizen’s Action Network held a Very Important Business Engagement (VIBE) meeting on Friday, Jan. 6, at the Stars and Strikes Bowling Alley. The guest speaker for the meeting was City Manager Gigi Dennis.

Dennis talked about Monte Vista and gave a recap of 2022 and the many improvements planned for 2023.

“It’s so nice to be here, and I want to say that I appreciate what the Optimystics are doing for our community,” Dennis said. “How they are doing a lot and how they want to leverage their good old elbow grease to help our community. The one thing about small communities is you really have to depend on each other to get things accomplished. I love the initiative that the Optimystics have taken on. If we all just take the pieces, we can form a great community.”

Dennis said she had been working for the city for just over a year, and gave a recap of a few things that had happened in 2022.

“Probably the biggest success story for Monte Vista is what has happened out at Ski Hi,” Dennis said. “We had the ribbon cutting in February. We just finished up the construction. Stephanie Ruybal is the manager out there and she’s working on a lot of things for the city.”

Dennis then looked ahead to 2023.

“Now we have also applied for this grant,” she said. “It was a congressional earmark. This grant will give us $850,000 and that will be for the purchase of a generator, four portable showers and 15 to 18 RV spaces. We can then designate Ski Hi as an official emergency or warming center. In case another tragedy arrives, within the San Luis Valley, we will utilize this and be prepared for it.”

Dennis also spoke of hiring a new recreation Director Dervin Taylor. Dennis said that the city is excited about adding him as he seems involved with the kids, and the community and what he is doing.

“We are very encouraged,” Dennis said. “The kids after-school basketball is about ready to start, and he had 60 kids show up. That’s a big improvement from what we have had in the past.”  

Dennis said that Ski Hi is now open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 10 a.m. and then from 5 to 7 p.m. for anyone that would like to walk laps inside the center without getting cold outside.  

Dennis also said that this year a Planning Director/Community Development person had been added to the city.

“I don’t know how long it has been since Monte has had anyone take on a role like this,” Dennis said. “This man was retiring from the Army, and the Army pays for a 6-month internship. When he came to see us, he asked if we had a job, we might need help with for 5 or 6 months, that could then turn into a real job. We talked about it, and he has just jumped in. He has even switched his online degree to Urban Planning. So now for the people who have questions like; can I put up a fence, or where can I build a house. We have someone to answer those questions, DJ Enderle.”

Dennis also announced an opening in the Planning and Zoning Committee and invited people to apply online through the City of Monte Vista website.

Dennis also said that Monte Vista was also recently part of the San Luis Valley Housing study. Dennis talked about how there are not a lot of options for housing or even duplexes in town.

“Right now, there is an organization that is building self-built houses, out on the far southeast of Monte Vista,” Dennis said. “Their plan is, within the next 5 to 8 years, to build out 54 homes. They do have some income restrictions, but in this program, we are looking at, this program opens the window much larger and broader. That way all the income levels will be looked at. We are trying to make it easier and more affordable to be able to find and get a home here in Monte Vista.”

Dennis thanked everyone for being at the meeting and encouraged everyone to attend City Council meetings — every first and third Thursday of the month.

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