Town of Meeker will address closure of one block of Fifth Street

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MEEKER I The topic of closing Fifth Street in Meeker between Park and Main streets goes back to June 2013, when the town conveyed ownership of the “Main Street Building,” formerly the old Meeker Elementary School, to Rio Blanco County. The potential street closure is on the agenda for a Town Planning Commission hearing on March 17 and for the Meeker Board of Trustees to consider on March 18.
If approved by a new town ordinance, the street between the existing Rio Blanco County Courthouse and the old elementary school would be closed and vacated to enlarge the area to hold community events and outdoor venues.
Meeker Town Administrator Scott Meszaros said the process to close off the street by state statute only requires that an ordinance be approved by the Town Board of Trustees.
“The Meeker Town Code does not specify or require a land-use code process to accomplish vacating the roadway,” he said, adding that the county now owns the parcels on both sides of the street.
Meszaros said the town staff has requested that the county provide a vacation plat, a legal description of the parcel and that the process go through the “usual” town process of approving Land Use Code items, which include posting and noticing of the request.
The Meeker Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on March 17 at 7 p.m. in Meeker Town Hall, 345 Market St., to consider the request and will make a recommendation to the town board. The Town Board of Trustees will conduct a public hearing on the ordinance at its meeting at 7 p.m. on March 18, also at Meeker Town Hall.
“The Meeker Planning Commission is an advisory board, so the Meeker Town Board is not required to adhere to the Planning Commission’s recommendation,” Meszaros said. “The board could go ahead on March 18 and approve or deny the request based upon the hearing.” Meszaros stated that staff is recommending approval.
The planning commission packet, prepared by town staff, states that all traffic levels for Meeker, including Highway 13 accesses, are a service level “A” and that the grid layout of the downtown streets accommodates travel with the removal of the single block of Fifth Street. Parking requirements will be reviewed for compliance with the town code at the time Rio Blanco County submits the building plan for the property/properties.
The county will unveil its justice center and courthouse improvement plans on March 11 and 12 in Meeker and Rangely, respectively.
Meszaros stated, “The decision for vacating the roadway should be based upon the application and discussions heard at the public hearing.” And that is why, he said, the town hearing is scheduled after the county has released its formal plans for the project publicly.
When asked, Meszaros said he did not know how many parking spaces will be lost on Fifth Street, but he pointed out that new parking will be picked up in the spaces on both ends where the street will be vacated, making for two full blocks of parking on the north side of Main Street, and the south side of Park Avenue from Fourth to Sixth streets. He said he has not seen the county site plan for the project but that he has heard that off-street parking will also be included.