Meeker and county boards hold workshop

RBC | Rio Blanco County Commissioners and the Meeker Board of Trustees met last week for a workshop updating both boards on the progress Better City has made on their proposed projects, and to discuss some other items including the possibility of a sales tax increase, revamping the town, county and chamber websites to improve communication with the public, and two programs available through the state to provide tax credits for small businesses.
Kelby Bosshardt of Better City updated the boards on the projects they’ve been working on and shared information about the next steps they hope to take.
“If you think of economic development as a stool, you don’t want a one-legged or even a two-legged stool because if you lose one then you lose balance,” Bosshardt said of Better City’s strategy to help create a stable base that won’t crash if one of those “legs” gets knocked out.
With the strategic plans and feasibility studies complete, the next phase of work is the pre-development stage.
Representatives from the town, county and Better City attended the International Sportsman’s Expo in Denver in January and spoke with people from Cabela’s, the National Bowhunter’s Organization, Bowhunt, Whitetail Deer Foundation and more.
“There’s a number of groups that love the idea and want to collaborate,” Bosshardt said. “It’s just a matter of getting the idea in front of the right people.”
The original idea to find one master operator has been set aside, and the group is now looking for individual operators, including locals. Bosshardt said they’ve spoken to an OHV/ATV rental with possibility for a dealership, someone interested in setting up fly fishing tours and a group who “has wanted to be in Meeker for a long time” to set up backpacking tours, among others.
Operators for the Adventure Center will be selected through a request for proposals (RFP) process that will be open to the public. Once proposals are received, there will be a transparent local vetting process. Local operators will have the same opportunity to submit proposals as outside operators.
Bosshardt shared the marketing tools created by Better City to create awareness and generate interest in Meeker and in the center and reiterated the answers to questions previously asked about the adventure center including:
– Site location (which has not been decided)
– No use of eminent domain.
– The building will be owned by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), and leased to private owners with performance qualification requirements. Operators would answer to the URA.
– The establishment of the Urban Renewal Authority in Meeker is scheduled for February.
For questions about how a URA works, there is a video available online through the Colorado Municipal League at http://bit.ly/2kOvI6m.
“The goal is to minimize public investment, but use what we have as motivation for involvement,” Bosshardt said. “We have to create something that gets people’s attention, and creates a draw to get people to come here and live.”
Better City and the town have been revising the proposed plan to build townhomes to improve affordable housing options, primarily for first-time home buyers. The original proposal presented last year was met with strong opposition from the community because of zoning questions. Consultants from Better City are continuing to work on that “prong” of the economic development plan, as well as developing and establishing the shooting sports industry cluster, which is designed to create a “footprint” for industries related to shooting sports to relocate or establish their business in the Meeker area.
The two boards discussed possible locations for the Outdoor Adventure Center, including the possibility of relocating the dog pound, water load-out and town shop and using the town’s existing property there. Commissioner Woodruff brought up the forthcoming sale of the property where the current gun range is located and suggested the town and county take that into consideration.
The purpose of the workshop was for updates and discussion among the board members. The public was welcome to attend, but not participate. There will, Mayor Regas Halandras assured one citizen in attendance, be future meetings for public comment on the various topics that were discussed.

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