Planner seeks GIS software for town

MEEKER — Two years ago Rio Blanco County hired Leif Joy to customize a geographic imaging system (GIS) for the county. The data accumulated by the county during the last two years is being made available to the towns of Meeker and Rangely by the county. The only cost to the towns is the purchase of the software to run the system.
According to Joy, now a consultant for the county, RBC is putting forth a “good faith effort” to share the data they have collected. Rangely is already using the system.
GIS integrates geographic features and public data related to those features in a layered system that can be made available to the public via Internet as three-dimensional or aerial views using Google Earth. That information can then be printed, e-mailed or amended. Last year, for example, the county’s GIS department received 165 requests for customized maps and aerial imagery showing property lines and ownership during hunting season.
For the town, GIS could be used to prevent recent complaints from property owners who say they weren’t informed of the town’s decision to restrict access to an alley. Using GIS, town staff would be able to merge addresses for all property owners within a specified proximity of variance requests, zoning changes, subdivision applications and the like, and notify them by mail.
Data connected with the GIS is already available to the public at the county courthouse.
“What we do not publish are phone numbers, crime stats, relationships of ownership, etc. Really all GIS has done is developed a tool to make it easier to mine information,” Joy said.
Meeker town planner Anna Smith, who has worked with geographic information systems, or GIS, before, believes the available data and the software to apply it will be invaluable to the town.
“This data is there. For the town of Meeker, for all the processes we deal with, that data becomes useless if we do not constantly update it as things are occurring in town. That’s where we’re at right now. We’re still in the paper stage. Data has not been kept up to date,” Smith said. The map currently hanging on her office wall was generated in 2001, and she has file drawers full of replats, new subdivisions, lot line adjustments and other items that have not been placed in an amended map.
Smith said she would take GIS courses to update her training.
“I feel that this is a service I would like to give back to the town of Meeker for having brought me here.”
The software costs $1224 for a single user, plus an additional $400 for updates and support. Town Manager Sharon Day said the board would have to approve an increase in the budget to purchase the software this year.
Meeker’s board of trustees approved a $1,000 increase to the usual donation toward the Fourth of July fireworks display, presented by the Meeker Fire District. This year the town will donate $3,000 toward the show.
Fireworks display coordinator Todd Morris said the cost of importing fireworks, most of which come from China, has increased dramatically since he stepped into the role in 2000.
“The show was $10,000 last year. We expect to spend $12,000 this year,” Morris said. “Over the years we’ve added a lot of stuff: the national anthem, the red, white and blues at the end. It’s a good show.”
All donations are welcome, and needed, whether from businesses or individuals, to cover the cost of the fireworks show. Interested parties are asked to contact Meeker Fire and Rescue or Morris for more information.
In other business, the town board approved liquor license renewals for the Meeker Hotel and Cafe, The Bistro, White River Convenience and Columbine Home Health. This will be the fourth year Columbine Home Health has requested a special events liquor license for Range Call. Columbine’s director said his organization would be pleased to donate $1,000 toward the fireworks display this year from their proceeds.
A public hearing concerning the installation of lighting at Ute Park from the Smoking River Pow Wow committee closed with the board passing an ordinance to approve permanent security lighting on existing poles and temporary lighting for the July event. White River Electric Association and Ducey’s Electric have volunteered to supply fixtures and/or labor for the project.