Jan. 24 was Cathy Derby’s final meeting as town clerk after working for the town for nearly 18 years. The new hire, Jessica Markham, will be introduced at the next regular meeting on Feb. 14. Photo by Raleigh Burleigh

Tuesday’s meeting, Jan. 24, was somewhat quiet with no public comments and the absence of trustees Erica Sparhawk and Luis Yllanes. Lani Kitching, nursing an illness, joined via Zoom. It was also the birthday of trustee Marty Silverstein!

The consent agenda included accounts payable, art gallery permit renewals for Carbondale Arts and the Clay Center, signing of the owner’s representative contract with Wembar, Inc. and an amended contract for Crystal River work.

The contract with Wembar, serving as owner’s representative for construction of the new aquatics facility, merited some discussion, with a total fee including reimbursable expenses of $198,900, plus $59,000 if construction is delayed until the spring of 2024.

Conveniently, a Wembar representative was live on Zoom to explain that the extra time associated with a delay would cause the increased cost, however pool construction during winter will be a challenge, particularly with temperature-sensitive plastering. All the same, the consent agenda was unanimously approved.

During comments by trustees, Marty Silverstein sent condolences to the family of Marc Grandbois, as well as the family of Dr. Morris Cohen. Chris Hassig echoed condolences, stating his admiration for Grandbois’ dedication to KDNK.

Kitching spoke about millions of birds succumbing to avian flu, primarily Canada geese. She warned that persons who encounter waterfowl behaving oddly or dead should keep their distance and contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife (970-947-2920). “I urge parents to be sure curious children receive this message as well,” she said.

Town Manager Lauren Gister announced that the new town clerk, Jessica Markham, will begin on Feb. 6 and train with Cathy Derby for three weeks. “And we have a planner,” Gister added. Kelley Amdur owned the Dandelion Inn and worked for the Rec Center.

The first novel item on the agenda was a proposal from the Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA) for regional baseline watering standards. The proposition was developed through a grant from the WaterNow Alliance and stakeholder meetings with water suppliers in the Valley.

RWAPA Executive Director April Long joined via Zoom to explain that the desire for comprehensive and regional education is complicated by disparate restrictions between jurisdictions in the watershed. “The entire point of baseline watering standards is just to give us initial footing … for an education and outreach campaign,” she stated.

An extensive memo provided by Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman explained that the town code currently recognizes few scenarios for restrictions: a water shortage or a water crisis. Conservation restrictions may be enacted during periods of peak demand, from May 15 to Oct. 15.

The proposed Valley-wide standards would make permanent no watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. year-round, with odd addresses and even addresses alternating days and no watering on Mondays — with some exceptions.

Schorzman’s memo also explained that Carbondale’s system is unique, with treated water as well as an extensive ditch system supplying raw water for irrigation. The memo noted that Carbondale’s indoor water use per capita has trended downward in recent years and approximately 58% of “consumed” domestic water returns to the river as wastewater return flows. Long stated that ditch water should follow the same standards as treated water.

“How do you see enforcement playing out?” Mayor Ben Bohmfalk asked.

“None of our communities are intending to enforce upon [the restrictions] initially,” Long responded. “One idea might be in a year of drought to seek a grant to fund one or two enforcement officers for that season.”

Gister offered “food for thought” on the topic of enforcement. “The town is being asked to regulate something, to put something in the code with regard to watering restrictions, and yet without intention of enforcing it. I’m not sure how the board feels about regulating when stating out loud we’re not going to enforce it.”

Trustees generally agreed with staff’s recommendation against adoption of the RWAPA plan as it exists, while supporting the intention to educate the public to conserve water. The topic will be revisited during a future meeting.

Next, trustees unanimously approved their first ordinance of the year, codifying the 6% short-term rentals tax approved by voters. Anything booked prior to Jan. 1 will not owe the tax and collection will begin on April 1.

Trustees then revisited the bag fee ordinance, passed in 2012, in light of new statewide legislation. Whereas the town’s ordinance removed plastic bags from retailers of a certain size, namely City Market, and placed a 20-cent fee on paper bags, the statewide legislation broadens the ban to include other stores, but not “small stores” that are not national franchises and operate fewer than four locations in the state. The state’s fee is 10 cents per bag and it allows for stores to phase out plastic up until 2024.

Town staff’s recommendation to include all stores and maintain a 20-cent fee will be considered at a future meeting with a public hearing.

The meeting concluded with an executive session “for discussion of a personnel matter.”

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