Rangely council reviews regs, museum traffic, economic development

RANGELY I The Rangely Town Council met Feb. 24 to listen to department updates, including discussion of new utilities mandates from the state which will have impacts on the town.

The board also participated in lengthy discussion about a county-wide economic development plan and potential parking lot plans at the new car museum in town.
The towns of Rangely and Meeker as well as Rio Blanco County are jointly funding and participating in an Economic Development Assessment Plan at a total estimated cost ranging from $60,000 to $169,000, depending on the depth of study chosen. The study, which could be done by the end of the year, will provide all three entities with plans to maximize economic development locally.
The council agreed that participation in the leakage portion of the study would not be necessary, saving the $17,000 it would have cost. Leakage refers to the amount of money that leaves town to be spent either in another city or online and has been studied locally many times with a consistent result of 80 percent or more of money leaving town.
Council member Ann Brady expressed concern that these types of studies have been done before and then “sit on a shelf.” Brady emphasized the importance of utilizing the study and having “real solutions.”
Another hot topic of discussion was the plan for the parking area development at Bud Striegel’s new car museum, located off Main Street and Stanolind. The town had budgeted $66,000 for the lot as well as work on the storm drains and the addition of an island on Stanolind to help direct traffic. However, Town Manager Peter Brixius told the board it could cost more.
The town plans to apply for a $10,000 grant and seek financial assistance from Striegel to help cover the cost of the work.
Council member Ann Brady was not in favor of the island addition in the road. She was concerned that it would cause problems with plowing and was not really needed to direct traffic.
Mayor Frank Huitt was in favor of the plans.
“It would be an asset to the town for beautification,” he said. Brixius agreed saying, “(The car museum) will be a destination location.”
In the end, the town voted to apply for the $10,000 grant and requested that Brixius seek additional funding, allowing the town to stick with the originally budgeted $66,000.
Early in the meeting, the town heard updates from two department heads, including Rangely Police Chief Vince Wilczek. Wilczek informed the council that the police department would be using a donation made last year by Chevron to update their Tasers.
Alden Vanden Brink gave the council a lengthy update regarding the town’s utility department. The council was informed that the water plant renovations are well under way with new water filters almost completely installed. He told the council that he has heard from several community members who have noticed an improvement in the water from the new filters.
He also informed the council that the air handler system at the waste water plant, which was installed six months ago, is experiencing repeated failures, as many as seven in the last 10 days. Fortunately, the system is still under warranty and the plant is fitted with an auxiliary heater, which can act as a backup.
The bulk of Vanden Brink’s update centered on new state regulations that he believes will impact Rangely. In 2015, the state will require that all commercial entities add equipment for a backflow cross connection to their water lines. He said that if the businesses do not comply, the state will require that the town turn off the water to the non-compliant businesses.
The state will also begin requiring that all bacteria sampling test results be reported to the state, regardless of results. The state will be playing a more active role in the monitoring of local water quality, he said.
Another requirement centers on more frequent inspections of the storage tanks for finished water as well as more frequent reporting to the state on the results of those inspections.
The last regulation discussed was, according to Vanden Brink, designed to help alleviate the statewide water utility operator shortage.
Beginning this year, the state will allow non-certified operators to perform previously off-limit tasks if they have standardized operating plans, procedures and schedules provided by a certified operator.
Council member Brad Casto expressed concerns that the addition of these new regulations is only going to cost the town more money for implementation and monitoring.
Another topic of concern for the council members was the biomass disposal program.
Brixius informed the board that the town’s plan is to separate the biomass (trees, shrubs, branches, etc.) into three piles. One pile would be burned west of town, another would be hauled to the county landfill and the last would be chipped and offered to interested community members.
Council members Lisa Hatch and Ann Brady insisted that the program was an important one for the community and that it encourages proper disposal instead of illegal dumping.
However, Brady was concerned that property owners and not commercial operators utilize the program.
Brixius added use by non-residents to the list of concerns. The council will be considering adding rules that would disallow use of the program by commercial operators at a future work session.