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The August 8 meeting of the Buena Vista Board of Trustees encountered a wide range of topics during public comment including concern over tree removal, worries about dangerous traffic, an update from Congresswoman Brittany Petersen’s office, and a thanks from local surfers for work on the Pocket Wave.

Concern for SDCEA Plan to Remove Trees

Buena Vista local Liz Morgan spoke during public comment about the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association’s (SDCEA) plan to clear trees near some of its lines. Morgan urged the Board to step in and implement a moratorium on SDCEA’s plans to allow time for more consideration of the course of action.

“Why not bury the lines?” asked Morgan who stated that removing trees as a method of fire mitigation is “no longer best practice.” Advocating for the protection of the trees, Morgan said that their presence actually keeps things cool and moist and reduces fire risk. Morgan said that a petition would begin circulating on August 9 regarding the SDCEA’s plans.

Later in the evening during Trustee-Staff Interaction, Mayor Libby Fay detailed an upcoming work session before the next Trustee Meeting. The 6:00 p.m. work session on August 22 will cover SDCEA’s plans and include discussion with other groups like the Tree Board, the Buena Vista Tree Coalition, the Beautification Committee, and the Historic Preservation Commission.

Though the fire team had yet to be invited, Bertram was still in attendance and said they would be able to attend the work session as well to address concerns.

Intense Traffic Causes Concern

Merrifield’s employee Sandra Horrocks spoke to the Board about a close call she witnessed at the intersection near her work. Horrocks detailed a scene of a young woman walking with a child who was nearly struck by a Buena Vista Town dump truck that was turning right at the stoplight off of County Road 306. According to Horrocks, the pedestrians were in front of the truck when it began moving forward. She was unsure if the woman was bumped by the vehicle but described the child’s hat falling as the pair ran back to the safety of the curb.

“My suggestion to you, to alleviate a possible catastrophe, would be to maybe retrofit the trucks so that they would have cameras or sensors so they would know if there are pedestrians around them,” said Horrocks. “That intersection we all know is really dangerous.”

Horrocks also suggested painting the parking spots more clearly in that area near the intersection, or having that turn be a “no right on red” since visibility is obscured due to vegetation at the park.

The Board expressed gratitude for sharing the incident and returned to the topic later in the meeting. Public Works Director Shawn Williams explained that he had not heard anything from staff of a possible incident, but acknowledged that he doesn’t hear about everything. “It’s definitely concerning to me,” said Williams. “I definitely feel like this is worth a team meeting tomorrow morning.”

Williams explained that they would look into the issue, beginning with an investigation of the traffic lights to ensure the timing is correct and observe visibility at that corner.

The trustees collectively acknowledged the increase in intensity of traffic and brainstormed a few ideas. Trustee Gina Lucrezi mentioned possibly providing bright flags for pedestrians to carry like they have in Salt Lake City. Police Chief Dean Morgan advocated for a pedestrian bridge.

Some suggestions, such as making the flashing lights at crosswalks red instead of yellow, face challenges due to requirements and standards from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

To stay as safe as possible, pedestrians should always be sure to press the button at crosswalks and wait until things are clear before stepping into the street.

Update on Carbonate Street Phase 1 Funding

Courtesy of Fading West Development, Town of Buena Vista.

Justin Kurth, Field Representative for Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen spoke at the meeting after holding office hours at the library earlier in the day. Kurth emphasized the outreach of Petersen’s offices, explaining that staff is always ready to assist citizens with issues involving federal agencies.

“We go to where people are and listen to what’s going on in your neck of the woods and make sure your voice is being heard in Washington,” said Kurth.

Kurth also mentioned that Carbonate Street Phase 1 has made it to the next step in the House appropriations process and expressed hope that the next steps will be as successful. Though the amount approved, a little over one million dollars, differed from the $1.6 million requested, Kurth assured the Board that they had not given up and would still work to bring that number higher.

Citizens Express Thanks to Town for their Work on the Pocket Wave 2.0

Local surfer Heidi Gerberich stepped up to thank the town for their support of the Pocket Wave project. Gerberich and a handful of other local surfers came to the meeting to show their support and appreciation for the project.

Gerberich recounted how she has made friends at the existing Staircase Wave, who range in aged from four-years-old to eighty. She emphasized how exciting it was to see so many people enjoying the river safely. She expressed that there were more people than ever coming from out of town, renting gear at CKS, and learning from the locals.

“The Pocket Wave is a really cool way to spread out crowds,” said Gerberich. “It’s a cool way to invite people to observe what we value in this town. We have a lot of different values, and one of those is recreating safely.”

Earlier in the trustee meeting, the Board approved a contract with Lowry Contracting for work on the Pocket Wave project as a part of the Consent Agenda.

Recreation Special Projects Manager Earl Richmond explained that Lowry was the preferred contractor because of similar work in the past. Though the company’s bid was originally rejected, they worked with them directly and came to an agreement on the cost.

Work on the Pocket Wave is is expected to begin August 21 and be completed by October 1, which is the latest date that the Army Corps of Engineers will allow them to be in the water. Due to increased water flow through November 5, recreation is hoping to push that timetable further if possible to allow for more time to work on the project.