Town owns Sulphur Creek ditch, responsibility for maintenance still in question

MEEKER | Responding to a citizen’s question about who is responsible for maintenance of the Sulphur Creek ditch, town attorney Melody Massih said after further research, town manager Scott Meszaros determined the town is the owner of the ditch, but staff is still looking into the town’s responsibilities.
“We’re working on it, and we need to do more research because it is a water quality issue,” Massih said. Annie Long, the citizen who initially brought the complaint about trash and odor in the Sulphur Creek Ditch below Water Street, asked if town staff has examined the conditions behind Northwest Auto’s used car lot and how code enforcement is being handled. Meszaros said code enforcement is an ongoing, and complicated, process.
The board heard an update on the Main Street 45 project from Meeker Chamber of Commerce director Stephanie Kobald and chamber president Diana Jones.
Kobald said the group’s biggest current project is wayfinding signage. They are about to submit a Request for Proposals, and said working with the Main Street program has made cooperating with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) much easier. CDOT has to approve any signage installed along Market Street because it’s also a state highway.
They’re also discussing ways to promote Meeker as a “conference hub” for northwest Colorado, since Meeker is centrally located, are working on creating more downtown events like the upcoming Jammin’ Lamb event during the Meeker Classic, and are discussing the possibility of establishing a “heritage craft emporium” and a year-round farmers’ market.
In staff updates, public works superintendent Russell Overton said July was another near-record month for water usage, at almost 55 million gallons, and the Seventh and Ninth street overlay projects were completed Monday.
Police Chief Phil Stubblefield said his department had 344 calls for service in July and made eight arrests—four male and four female. The annual elk bugling contest held at the elementary school may be moved up by a month, as “Nick’s Wild Ride,” an Outdoor Channel program, will be in the area hunting and would like to see the contest and do some filming. And finally, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has asked the town to host a 40-hour class for approximately 50 people in October.
Finally, the board heard a presentation from Alisa Braia, who is interested in bringing a recreational and/or medical marijuana business to Meeker.
“I’m not here to cause a ruckus and I don’t want to offend anyone, I’m just an entrepreneur and I think it’s an opportunity,” Braia said.
Braia said her enterprise would create eight new jobs in Meeker.
“Our direction (for staff) would be to work with her to create a ballot referendum,” said Meszaros. The benefit of cooperating with Braia to create the ballot questions, he explained, is that the town would be able to define the ballot questions.
“If there was no one here wanting to do this in Meeker, it wouldn’t make sense to go through this process,” Meszaros said. “It’s easier to work with someone who wants to get something on the ballot than it is to have them do it themselves.”
“If we don’t help lead it through we’re going to get it (on the ballot), one way or another,” Mayor Regas Halandras said.
It only takes 62 signatures on a petition to get an item on the ballot at this time, and the town would have no control over how the question, if validated according to state statute, is worded.
The first, and possibly biggest, hurdle may be the town’s “hybrid” method of collecting sales tax. Currently, a flat sales tax rate of 3.6 percent applies to all three county entities. The way things stand now, for the town to approve an additional sales tax on marijuana would require amending the way the town’s sales tax is collected and disbursed, or an excise tax, or a flat fee per purchase.
The board could vote to overturn the moratorium and allow for marijuana sales in the town limits, but the consensus has been that the citizens need to make the decision.