The August 8 meeting of the Buena Vista (BV) Board of Trustees signaled a changing of the guard in more ways than one. The board voted to approve the appointment and employment contract for Poncha Springs Town Administrator Brian Berger as the new Buena Vista Town Administrator.
On the same night, Fire Chief Robert Bertram announced his impending departure. Bertram’s last day will be August 29 and Berger’s first will be September 18.
The employment agreement for Berger featured on page 136 of the meeting packet included a few items for the board to consider. The package included $138,000 salary and severance, including four months of insurance premiums for Berger and his dependents in the event the position is terminated.
Trustee Devin Rowe moved to approve the resolution and Trustee Sue Cobb seconded. The Board unanimously approved the appointment and employment agreement in a roll call vote. The start date of September 18 allows a thirty-day notice for the Town of Poncha Springs in addition to a week off before Berger jumps into his new role in Buena Vista.
“Thank you, I’m extremely excited to step into the role,” said Berger. “I’m excited about the future and where we can go.”
While delivering his staff report to the Board, Fire Chief Robert Bertram explained that he had taken a position with Pagosa Spring Fire. The contract was finalized earlier that day. Bertram assured the Board that the Town would not be left out during the transition. He also said it could take four to six months to hire a new chief.
“We have a great team at the fire department to jump in in the interim,” said Bertram. “I’ve really enjoyed working with all of you guys, but it’s time to move on to my next adventure.”
Several members of the Board thanked Bertram for his work and expressed that he would be missed.
Recreation Special Projects Manager Earl Richmond and Envision Chaffee County Program Director Kim Marquis delivered a concise report to update the Board on the Chaffee County Outdoor Rec Management plan.
According to the packet, “The Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan protects our community’s natural resources, maintains exceptional outdoor experiences, and sustains the economic benefits of tourism. Our stunning landscapes contribute significantly to quality of life as access to beautiful and rejuvenating public lands is the main reason many of us choose to call this place home.”
Richmond reported that they have been able to add sixteen staff members, set up twenty-five seasonal restrooms, install twenty-four wildlife informational signs, built or improved nine local trails, and removed twenty-five thousand pounds of trash and ash from campsites.
Richmond and Marquis have also worked to raise about $7.4 million to support projects into the future. Richmond emphasized that Marquis is a great partner to the town.
When asked about where the money came from, Marquis cited Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) as one of the largest supporters alongside Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Chaffee Common Ground Fund, the quarter-percent sales tax measure, and the Chaffee County Government among other sources.
Marquis also discussed the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) recent camping management position to move away from dispersed camping to designated campsites. According to Marquis, the BLM is looking to designate 150 campsites across its thirty-eight thousand acres. Work has already begun designating sites. Designated camping essentially means that campers are required to camp only in established, numbered sites. It would remain first-come, first-serve with no reservations and a fourteen day stay limit.
The U.S. Forest Service, which also has dispersed camping, has yet to officially implement their plan, but there could be over a thousand designated sites once they do. In the Forest Service’s draft plan, they have not committed to 100 percent designated sites.
When asked about possible fees, Marquis stated that dispersed camping remains free, and that the BLM doesn’t want to do a fee, but may have to if visitors don’t keep areas clean.
Marquis recognizes the size of the task ahead to designate potentially over a thousand sites, which will require site numbers, signage, and established fire rings. “I think, having talked to a lot of different communities around the West, I think ours in the biggest endeavor of its kind in the West to designate this many,” said Marquis.
The full consent agenda was passed unanimously. The passed resolutions:
- Confirm the appointment of Joseph Teipel to the Chaffee County Multijurisdictional Housing Authority;
- Affirm persons authorized to sign on Town bank accounts, credit card accounts, and investment accounts;
- Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Lowry Contracting for the Pocket Wave remodel project;
- Approve a notice of award to A-1 Chipseal Company for the 2023 street chipseal projects;
- Approve the Public Improvement Agreement with Thomas and Catalina White for the property known as the White Minor Subdivision.
Police Chief Dean Morgan reported that the police department is fully moved into their new building. The new location for BVPD is 28362 County Rd 317 in Buena Vista.
Town Clerk Paula Barnett announced a new and improved website for the town. The site should be live by 3:00 p.m. August 9. Barnett described the new website as “much-improved” with a user-friendly, easier interface.
Mayor Libby Fay addressed a concerned email about noise from a local business on Main Street. Fay explained that noise complaints, such as this should be directed to the police department. If the main police line is not answered, then Fay suggested calling 911 but to be sure to express that the situation is not an emergency to register the complaint. Fay also said keeping a journal of incidents would be helpful to document any issues.
Featured image: Brian Berger joins the Town of Buena Vista as Town Administrator. Carl Winchell photo