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The Buena Vista (BV) Board of Trustees (BOT) convened their bi-monthly meeting this past Tuesday, August 23 in the Piñon Room of the Buena Vista Community Center. The meeting marks the last BOT meeting with Phillip Puckett as acting BV Town Administrator.

Buena Vista Town Hall. Photo by Henry DeKam

A Five-Year Look-Back

After the floor was opened for public comment, Puckett kicked off staff reports with a slideshow compiling some of his favorite moments from the last five years as Town Administrator for BV. Puckett appeared to hold back his emotions as he worked his way through the slides, saying he had such joy for experiencing a beautiful and rewarding time as Buena Vista’s Town Administrator.

“A lot happened along the way,” Puckett reminisced. “Forming new partnerships, new bonds with members of the Town. My family grew up with me too.”

Mayor Libby Fay pointed out that as Puckett grew in his role as Town Administrator, so did the town of Buena Vista. The evidence of his hard work is visible everywhere you look in BV. “You’ve done a great job,” she concluded.

As the slideshow came to a close, emotions hung in the air as Puckett concluded his last staff report as Town Administrator.

“It’s been a great ride. Thank you very much”, Puckett said with a tinge of emotion.

Puckett said that during the past five years as Town Administrator he has attended more than 128 BOT meetings and gave more than 120 staff reports.

Not missing a beat, Puckett moved on to his staff report as acting Town Treasurer and updated the BOT that the Heart of the Rockies Medical Center (HRRMC) had been notified that the Town wished to purchase the existing Police Station. A new Purchase and Sales Agreement (PSA) has being written up and title work has been ordered. Puckett explained that the PSA will be brought before the BOT at the September 13 trustee meeting.

Mt. Olivet Cemetery Buena Vista. CO. Image courtesy of ‘Find a Grave’.

Public Works Director Shawn Williams then updated the BOT on July water production numbers and ongoing town projects including the Buena Vista Cemetery Improvement project.

“It looks fantastic”, said Williams, his excitement evident.

With improved landscaping and irrigation work, new fence post proposals, and new map signs going in, the Cemetery is receiving a much overdue facelift and cleanup thanks to Public Works.

Williams also mentioned that the official groundbreaking for the McPhelemy Stage occurred on Sunday, August 21 and that there is enthusiastic support for the plans. The Town is still on track for their proposed fall 2022 completion date for the project.

Trustee Business Items

The first item on the agenda was the adoption of Resolution No.63,  entitled: “An Ordinance appointing Lisa Parnell-Rowe to the position of Town Administrator” and approving an employment agreement with Lisa Parnell-Rowe.

Trustees unanimously passed Resolution No. 63 and officially appointed Lisa Parnell-Rowe as Buena Vista’s new Town Administrator.

At the same time, Ordinance No.24, entitled: “Amending Section 2-47(E) of the Buena Vista Municipal Code” was brought before the BOT for discussion and debate.

Incoming Buena Vista Town Administrator Lisa Parnell-Rowe meets with outgoing Town Administrator Phillip Puckett at the end of the BV Trustees session. Puckett isn’t going far, he’s taking over the critical role of Town Treasurer. Photo by Landon James.

Previously, Town Administrators were required to live in the Town of Buena Vista in order to be allowed to serve in their role. However, given the housing crisis in BV, the BOT entertained amending the ordinance to allow Parnell-Rowe to live within a 15-minute drive time radius that is no more than 15 miles away from Buena Vista.

With the help and guidance of the Town’s legal attorney, the trustees agreed to amend the employment agreement even further to give Parnell-Rowe until March 2023 to find housing within 30 miles of the Town of BV. In addition, the BOT agreed to be able to amend and waive this requirement at their discretion if it proves harder than anticipated for Parnell-Rowe to find adequate housing giving the current housing situation in BV.

After the meeting, Parnell-Rowe expressed her gratitude at the opportunity to serve BV in the role of Town Administrator.

“Becoming Town Administrator for Buena Vista has been an aspiration of mine for many years and it feels amazing to be given this opportunity,” said Parnell-Rowe. “It’s truly an honor to be chosen to work with and guide such a wonderful team of town employees.  I look forward to hearing from the community and working to further enhance and build towards achieving their overall visions and goals for this very special town.”

Special Projects Manager Joel Benson took the floor and addressed the BOT to bring awareness to a special tool developed by Wright Water Engineers to calculate water usage prices for residents and future subdivisions/construction projects within BV.

Benson explained that the tool, which is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, would allow the Town to calculate water usage prices for two purposes:

1. Single Family Equivalency (SFE)
2. Future subdivisions and residential construction projects

SFE refers to the indoor and outdoor water usage for the average single-family household, but can also be used for future commercial properties the Town may build.

Benson showed a real-time demonstration of how the Excel spreadsheet tool allows one to enter various different measurements and numbers into certain fields allowing the Town to calculate the costs and amounts of water usage depending on the project or property.

Benson also asked that the BOT consider using this tool to determine when it would be appropriate to use water from the Upper Arkansas Water Conservatory District (UAWCD) as opposed to water from the current existing Town reserve.

Although no resolution was put forward, trustees were impressed and agreed to future work sessions and discussions regarding the use of the tool regarding water usage for new residential and commercial properties and projects within the Town. It was agreed these sessions could easily lead to a resolution and if so, would be brought before the BOT at a future meeting.

The final item on the business agenda was the proposed adoption of Ordinance No.25, entitled: “An Ordinance approving the loan agreement between the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority and the Town of Buena Vista, Colorado, acting by and through the Town of Buena Vista Water Activity Enterprise and authorizing the Mayor and the Town Administration to execute related documents.”

Through extensive legal documents regarding the particulars of the loan it was noted that this loan is issued as a 100 percent Principal Forgiveness Loan in accordance with the Capitalization Grant, and the principal amount of the loan shall be forgiven pending the Town follows the guidelines laid out therein.

“You hear the word loan, but it turns into a grant,” Town Treasurer Puckett explained. A motion was unanimously approved through a roll call vote.

With the business items out of the way, the meeting moved on to Staff Interactions.

The first item on the list was a proposal to begin the process of becoming a Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Gateway Community through the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC).

The CDTC has established a network of towns and communities that are located close to the CDT as welcoming destinations for those traversing the CDT while simultaneously “encouraging local awareness, stewardship, and pride in the trail”, according to the BOT packet. The City of Salida is already a CDT Gateway Community.

The process for applying for BV to become a CDT Gateway Community includes:

1. Formation of an advisory committee
2. Obtain letters of support
3. Approval of the designation by the community’s governing body

The Trail Advisory Board recommends the formation of a Trail Advisory Committee to weigh the costs and benefits of becoming a Gateway Community for both the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail.

The BOT showed immediate interest and support from several members and voted unanimously to agree to form the Trail Advisory Committee and schedule a time to meet with the Trail Advisory Board in the future to discuss details regarding the application.

After the meeting, the Trustees held an Executive Session with the Town’s attorney to receive legal advice on specific legal questions.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 13 in the Piñon Room of the BV Community Center.