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The Buena Vista Board of Trustees (BOT) convened their regular bi-monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 9, The session included an update from Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on the EDC’s 2022-2023 strategic plan, as well as a lengthy update of progress on the Town Campus, and approval of the infiltration system to provide high-quality drinking water for the town.

Trustee’s Business Items

Buena Vista Town Hall. Photo by Henry DeKam

An update from Chaffee County EDC Director Jake Rishavy reviewed the EDC’s 2022-2023 strategic plan. Rishavy began by laying out the EDC’s three main goals for 2022-2023:

1. Startup/Scale-up Support
2. Talent Pipeline and Work-Based Learning (WBL)
3. Public Policy: Land Use and Infrastructure

He highlighted the Central Mountain Entrepreneurs organization which focuses on educating and encouraging entrepreneurs to continue reaching their potential and beyond. Topics addressed within the group included year-round job creation, increased wage diversity, social impact/solving community scale challenges, attracting local attention, and more.

Rishavy updated the BOT on the recent Central Mountain Ascent, an eight-week-long coaching/training seminar for entrepreneurs and business owners. The inaugural meeting was held on April 28, 2022 at the Surf Hotel on South Main in Buena Vista with Rishavy as the master of ceremonies for the event which included a panel of mentors, business owners, and economic leaders, and guests in sessions designed to help entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses into the stratosphere. Keynote speakers included Fading West CEO and Founder Charlie Chupp who shared his story of success and how Fading West is quickly becoming one of the most influential businesses within Chaffee County.

“I think we’ve created some great momentum over the last year”, said Rishavy.

Rishavy then updated the BOT with an economic overview of Chaffee County throughout 2022 and moving into 2023. Rishavy noted that the county’s unemployment rate is 2.16 percent, population has increased by 9.9 percent (growing by almost 1,900 to a total of 21,307 residents), and that there are more than 8,700 residents above the age of 55; meaning the valley is facing a high retirement risk to the local workforce in the upcoming years, a figure well above the national average.

Salida SteamPlant Riverside Plaza. Merrell Bergin photo

Rishavy stressed the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship within the Valley and noted the upcoming #FUTUREOFWORK Bootcamp will be holding its second class at the SteamPlant Annex on August 15 in Salida. Participating local employers include Pure Greens, Collegiate Peaks Bank, Fading West, Mt. Princeton, and many more.

Regarding public policy involving land use and infrastructure, Rishavy stressed that the county is at a critical point in time where topics such as the Chaffee County Land Use Code update, BV Affordable Housing Code Audit, Chaffee Housing Authority Tax Measure, and local policy issues are directly affecting local employers and employees within the business community.

Rishavy pointed out that in December 2021 the EDC Land Use Working Group was formed to address these issues through public/private collaboration and provide a private avenue for policy input. The last meeting occurred on February 2, and Rishavy noted there is still a long way to go before the group reaches its full potential and ability to drastically impact the issues facing the business sector in the county.

“This Valley really values entrepreneurship work and we’re seeing that through our work. We deeply appreciate your [BOD] support in this work”, Rishavy said in closing.

Trustees moved on to Resolution No.59, Series 2022, a public hearing for a right of way dedication for portions of Cedar Street and South Main Street. Planning Director Joseph Teipel addressed the BOD and emphasized that this resolution is designed to help the town function better from a logistics standpoint.

“This is largely a cleanup endeavor”, explained Teipel.

By approving a right of way on Cedar Street and South Main Street, the flow of residents throughout town would be improved in a way benefiting the entire community. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Town Campus update

Teipel explained that the new Buena Vista Police Station is well underway with its construction with a projected completion date of Spring 2023. As of August 9, all of the underground plumbing had been completed and M&W Golden Construction had managed to save around $135,000 by using more cost-effective lighting fixtures than were originally indicated. Teipel expressed his excitement for working with such a quality company that actively looks for ways to save money and stay under budget.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Chaffee county. 2019 AVV file photo

Teipel went on to explain plans to turn the old BV Police Station into the future official home of the Planning and Recreation Departments and rename the building as “Town Hall East”.

Teipel then suggested the BOD authorize the treasurer to send a letter notifying the Salida Hospital District of their desire to pay off the remainder of the ground lease for the Town Campus. Since 2013, the Town of BV has been in a lease agreement with the Salida Hospital District for the building and the ten old-town lots it sits on. Within the lease is a provision allowing for a buy-out, or payoff, in which the building and lots would become the property of the town.

Teipel explained that doing so would give the town full control of the building and the land, save the town money by not paying the four percent interest figured into the lease payments, and would allow trustees to weigh options regarding the future of the four old-town lots located west of the current BV Police Station.

Trustees passed a unanimous motion to authorize Treasurer Phillip Puckett to send a letter to the Salida Hospital District.

Teipel then proposed the BOD draw up and negotiate a ground lease with the Boy and Girls Club regarding the future site of their new building. He also asked the BOD to authorize the staff to create a development plan for Town Campus Phase 1 along with approving a $5,000 stipend to hire counsel needed to assess the needs of the Boys and Girls Club facility and the needs of the Town Campus.

Concern was expressed by multiple trustees regarding the fact that the proposed design by the Boys and Girls Club is too large for the allotted plot of land on which it is slated to be built. Despite these concerns, the proposal passed with unanimous approval.

Infiltration Gallery Expansion Project

Resolution No. 61, Series 2022 considered entering into an agreement with JVA Consulting Engineers Inc. for the Town of Buena Vista Infiltration Gallery (IG) Expansion Project for final design engineering services.

Public Works Director Shawn Williams explained these two resolutions would provide clean, high-quality drinking water to town residents and visitors, provide a reliable and redundant water supply and treatment system, and limit operations, maintenance, and capital costs for the town.

JVA has proposed they complete the design of IG Expansion Project and provide 60 percent of the “level design documents” to be reviewed with the Town and including a large amount of direct staff input, according to the BOT packet. The motion passed with unanimous support.

Williams diligent hard work was not lost on members of the Board.” You really are accomplishing a lot. We’re thrilled”,  said Mayor Libby Fay.

A Request for Community Action

During public comments, Recreation Special Projects Manager Earl Richmond addressed the BOT with a short but sweet public service announcement covering three important topics affecting the Buena Vista (BV) community and its residents.

First, Richmond stressed the dire need for affordable and available childcare in town. Richmond noted that not only is this is something families in BV want, but it’s also something they desperately need and residents’ passion for it is obvious. He asked for town investment in childcare as “an investment in our youth and the future of families in BV.”

“Our young families in town are excited about more childcare as our town is blossoming,” said Richmond.

Richmond went on to emphasize the desperate need for affordable housing for the Chaffee County work force, saying that “hardworking residents of BV and Chaffee County deserve places to live, grow, raise their families, and make BV their home in a way that is accessible and sustainable.”

“BV is awesome, the most incredible town in the world”, said Richmond.

His final point involved the proposed plan to reestablish a Recreation District boundary to fund big recreational capital projects that would benefit the town. His focus: to establish a means by which to consistently fund recreational projects that will not only enhance BV’s accessibility to outdoor activities but enhance the lives of all who live here.

Staff Reports

Phillip Puckett took the floor once again wearing the dual hats of Town Administrator and Town Treasurer. The town has closed on the direct lease financing with Collegiate Peaks on July 27 and received $3,016,263 for the construction of the new Police Station.

“We did receive a lot of money into our bank account and we will be spending it quickly”, explained Puckett, addressing the Board as Town Treasurer Puckett while reviewing the quarterly financial status report.

Police Chief Dean Morgan then tuned in via Zoom and updated the Board on the activities of the local BV Police Department. This included routine training drills, working on a budget for 2023, and spearheading programs to provide more funding for mental health needs and awareness within the community.  Morgan also mentioned that their department had intercepted a large amount of fentanyl from a routine traffic stop earlier in the week.

Morgan announced a Police versus Firefighters softball game at 6:00 p.m. on August 26 at the Buena Vista High School Baseball field to raise money for Crime Stoppers.  The event, which is usually held in Salida, will also feature a raffle for fallen Chaffee County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Billy Cordova.

On July 9, 2022, Cordova and his wife were involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Basalt, Colorado.  Cordova eventually succumbed to his injuries after a courageous fight for his life. He dedicated more than 35 years to the Fire Department as a volunteer and Chief Morgan expressed his deepest condolences on behalf of the entire BV Police Station as the community mourns the loss of a dedicated servant, husband, and family man.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 23 in the Piñon Room of the BV Community Center.