By Chelsea McNerney-Martinez
MONTE VISTA—At the Aug. 15 Monte Vista City Council meeting city staff presented on the progress of various projects around town and a street paving project for Dunham street was approved.
During the contracts, agreements and leases portion of the meeting Public Works Director Rob Vance presented a contract to council for the Dunham street repair project, explaining he recently went through the bid with the Valley’s only asphalt contractor, Asphalt Constructors Inc., who created a process where public works can work on a “design build” process. Vance explained in comparison, the mill and fill one-inch overlay done a few years ago near the high school cost $97,000 and this project will cost $48,500 for a three-inch asphalt mat for nearly the same square footage.
Dunham St. from Fourth Ave. to Sixth Ave. will be paved, in addition to water line improvement and storm drain installation. The cost will be about $220,000 total, including replacing the main water line and all the service lines, nine storm drain inlets and the paving. About $10,000 is left in the line items for water lines, streets and sewer storm drains for any contingency costs. The project will begin in September and should be done before November. Vance noted the importance of this project as the route includes part of the Stampede parade detour and the additional traffic down a dirt road kicks up dirt, creating issues for residents there. The roads and lines are anticipated to remain in good condition for 20-25 years but there is room with this process to anticipate further curb and gutter work in the future.
During his public works staff report, Vance explained he believed Stampede went well overall, although carnival staff for the second year in a row left trash for them to handle, this time seven semi tires, two semi rims and two truck tires which will have to be disposed of at the landfill at the city’s expense. Vance stated he hopes to work with the Stampede Committee to avoid this issue in future years.
Vance stated in the parks department he has received lots of compliments about how professional and kind the seasonal staff has been which he is very happy to hear. In the streets department “Lowell [Bolt] is a slave driver,” Vance joked, noting the rapid progress they are making on trimming trees down Highway 160, although there is some growing concern of a disease in the trees near Marsh School they will keep monitoring. There is an upcoming patching project on Morris St. affected residents will be informed of.
In the utilities department, Vance stated they have recently fixed two water leaks without impacting any other residents’ water other than the properties with the leaks themselves. Bob Abeyta has been doing more training with the staff, with Vance noting it’s their goal to have all of the staff comfortable with digging and splitting tasks into teams. The staff has also been working hard to make sure all commercial backflow inspections are being done to keep in compliance with the federal mandate. The Veterans Wastewater Plant has been burglarized twice recently, with a toolbox and weed-eaters being stolen; Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. The canal pipe leading to that facility has also deteriorated more rapidly than anticipated, and the department is working with the Department of Water Resources’ structural engineers to determine how to address it.
Vance announced Patrick Montoya, currently the city’s Code Enforcement officer, will be leaving the Police Department to become the Public Works department’s mechanic because he has the necessary skills and experience. Vance noted he is working with Chief John Rosecrans so Montoya can complete code enforcement duties until the end of September.
Vance stated he spoke with someone who oversees GOCO grants regarding a possible grant application for a splash park but didn’t receive great news, as the planning grants are only being awarded at about a 50 percent success rate on the first try and won’t be awarded until next summer. Planning grants are about three years out and the construction grants are three to six years out, so Vance is looking into other opportunities to plan and possibly fund the splash park option.
The city’s snow removal plan will be presented in September with an anticipated council vote on the plan in early October. Vance noted the results of a recent community survey, to plow the snow into the center of the roadways, is at odds with the recommendations of local emergency services providers, including the fire department and EMS, and Vance stated he anticipates several traffic issues/accidents with that method as well.
City Manager Forrest Neuerburg announced a 2020 budget workshop for council for Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m., explaining the budget worksheets are out with the department heads currently and City Finance Director Jennifer Signs is on track in the process. The 2020 budget “…is in the black…” and the general fund balance has increased as well, with a goal of having one million dollars in the general fund balance possible within two years.
Rosecrans stated Coffee with a Cop will not meet in September and will return to Wednesdays starting Oct. 2 at Rain Brews, which is also National Coffee with a Cop Day.
Crimestoppers is still selling tickets for a rifle raffle that will take place on Oct. 31.
There were 1,000 calls for service in July with August on track to have a considerable amount as well. There have been nearly 1,000 summons issued in 2019 so far, with 20 burglaries so far, …“well below the five year average…,” but about 70 percent of them are being solved.
The police department and the Monte Vista School District will be utilizing Officer David Pino as a School Resource Officer 20 hours a week. When discussing youth, Rosecrans encouraged parents to be mindful of the driving restrictions for teen drivers, especially noting traffic crashes as the number one cause of death for people under the age of 25.
City Clerk Unita Vance informed council of the upcoming Potato Festival on Sept. 7, asking council members to take shifts to inform residents about the sales tax ballot question. In addition to encouraging citizens to form a group to promote the sales tax question, Vance also requested council consider attending a district CML meeting.
Vance stated six packets went out for signatures for potential candidates for the two city council positions up for election, with the deadline for them to be turned in yesterday, Aug. 27.