As snow gently spiraled from the sky on Tuesday, Oct. 25, Carbondale’s Board of Town Trustees cozied up with a full agenda and all trustees present.
After approving a straight-forward consent agenda, the board heard from Debbie Wilde representing a regional partnership to establish a withdrawal management program (aka, detox facility) in Garfield County. Funded by Valley View Hospital, Grand River Hospital District and the governments of Garfield County, this service will be administered by Mind Springs Health.
Mind Springs Health acquired property in south Glenwood Springs in 2019 and has reserved space for a new alcohol and drug detoxification facility to assist the hospitals and police with sobering up individuals under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Once an agreement is finalized, Wilde explained, Mind Springs Health will begin building with the aim to have the facility operational by spring of 2023. The trustees unanimously approved joining the agreement, committing $10,000 to the effort.
Next, the focus was green. Jeff Dickinson of Biospaces Energy Consulting and Zuleika Pevec with Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) presented on three topics: 1) adopting the 2018 International Green Construction Code (IGCC), 2) establishing a plan for making new construction net zero and 3) beginning to look at how to make existing buildings net zero.
Dickinson began by explaining the benefits of electrification. With utility companies independently greening grids, technology advancing that makes heat pumps effective and efficient even at below freezing temperatures, and significant funding to be made available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the transition is becoming achievable.
Trustees unanimously approved adopting the 2018 IGCC with amendments. This applies only to commercial buildings and will come into effect before the end of the year.
For residential construction, trustees unanimously voted in support of a roadmap to net zero beginning in 2023. Regarding retrofitting existing buildings, “this will take more time and have more cost implications,” said Dickinson. CLEER and the Environmental Board were directed to work on a plan in 2023 that could come into effect in 2024.
Appropriately, this discussion was followed by a check-in with the town’s Environmental Board (eboard) represented by its new chair, Hannah-Hunt Moeller. After recognizing Colin Quinn, the former chair, for his years of leadership, Moeller presented a list of nine action items established by the eboard and went into detail regarding two.
The Board of Trustees gave their support for joining GoEV City with the aim of electrifying transportation and installing more electric vehicle chargers. As far as hiring a sustainability manager, the second item highlighted, the trustees expressed reservations. “We’ve spoken about someone for grant writing in general,” said Trustee Marty Silverstein. “A grant writer, while aspirational — I don’t know if we have the money to have this right now.”
Mayor Ben Bohmfalk thanked the eboard for pushing the town toward its green goals. “You’re definitely having an influence,” he said.
Trustee Erica Sparhawk suggested that CLEER’s contract could be increased for now, to assist that organization with grant writing, while the town leans on Garfield Clean Energy for access to federal grants and other work.
After a brief break, the trustees heard from the Roaring Fork School District about their employee housing project on Meadowood Drive near the high school. Mayor Bohmfalk, an employee with the school district, recused himself from the discussion.
In preparation for the meeting, Town Attorney Mark Hamilton and Planning Director Jared Barnell discovered an agreement entered into in 2002 that may change the process for approval. Whereas the school district’s understanding was that project approval depended on the state, it may have to go through a more standard process that includes a public hearing.
Planner Bob Schultz was unphased, given that the project was designed to conform to the town’s code anyway. The goal, stated Schultz, is to break ground in the spring and have 50 units, with a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, ready to inhabit by fall of 2024. This would bring the district’s total number of employee housing units up to 116.
The final item on the agenda involved checking in with the town’s public works and parks and recreation departments for 2023 budget considerations. Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman stated that conceptualization work has begun for a second roundabout, estimated to cost $3.5 million and slated for completion in 2024/2025.
Looking at the list of upcoming projects, Trustee Colin Laird asked if it would be possible to work on Highway 133 crossings in 2023. After a brief discussion, it was determined that improving the crossing at Cowen Drive would be a priority.
The trustees also committed to completing phase two of Eighth Street improvements in 2023 at a cost of $550,000. Trustee Chris Hassig questioned the value in lieu of other initiatives, to which Schorzman and Bohmfalk pushed back.
Schorzman also emphasized the higher cost and limitations of an electric street sweeper. He encouraged trustees to buy a diesel-powered sweeper “one more time” while the technology evolves for an electric sweeper with higher battery power and the ability to vacuum and not just sweep.
The trustees’ next meeting, on Nov. 8, will occur at the Third Street Center to allow for election work at Town Hall. On Nov. 15, the board will discuss adopting the Comprehensive Plan Update that has been underway for more than a year.