RDA abandons grocery project

RANGELY I The Rangely Development Agency met last week to continue discussion of the current grocery store situation and a current board vacancy.

Kelby Bosshardt of Better City updated the RDA on a recent conversation he had with Darin Hill, owner of Rangely’s White River Market. According to Bosshardt, Hill is no longer considering selling the grocery store and wants to continue operating in Rangely with the store “as is.” Bosshardt mentioned pursuing a public/private partnership to help Hill reconfigure the store and potentially add another venue in the store such as some type of entertainment or a call center. RDA chairman Brad Casto said that he wasn’t interested in the RDA seeking out a partnership with Hill, and that any kind of help from the RDA would need to be sought by Hill. RDA member Sandy Payne mentioned that the grocery store has improved in the last few months and she is hopeful the community will support the improvements.
Karen Reed pushed for consideration of a community cooperative grocery store which she says could offer lower prices, as profit wouldn’t be a concern. Casto agreed and suggested that the RDA reach out to the community and gauge the level of support there might be for the project. John Payne raised concerns that it would be unfair and against free market principals for the government to come in and compete with a current business. For now the RDA has agreed to drop the grocery store project.
“I think we’ll be revisiting this in another year anyway,” said Casto.
Another idea suggested in the Better City proposal was an Airplane Maintenance and Repair Operation coordinated through CNCC, which Bosshardt said should be the next focus for the RDA. According to Bosshardt the next step is to aggressively seek an operator who is willing to work in the Rangely area. He also believes the airport will need a new hangar and expressed hope that the community would be willing to work on some incentives to encourage development of the program.
An application for a façade grant submitted by local restaurant Giovanni’s was reviewed. Giovanni’s intends to improve stucco work and fencing along the building. The application was postponed until further bids on the work can be obtained.
The RDA currently has one vacancy on the board. According to RDA bylaws members to the RDA are appointed by the town mayor. Anyone interested in serving should speak with the town council.
The meeting ended with a discussion about the level of involvement town employees and council members have in the RDA and whether that extent of involvement is appropriate. Peter Brixius, town manager, committed that the town would stay involved and facilitate needed information and conversations but not control the direction of the RDA.