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Poncha Springs Mayor Ben Scanga swearing in new trustee Michael Coleman. Photo by August Toevs.

On Monday, July 24, the Poncha Springs Board of Trustees (BoT) convened for their monthly meeting. They were joined, for the first time, by newly-appointed Trustee Michael Coleman.

Mettings are held on the fourth Monday of each month in the Poncha Springs Town Hall.

Coleman is a Poncha Springs resident and owner of C and H Constructors, LLC. In the letter of interest Coleman sent to the board, he advocated for his qualifications by highlighting his management experience with ACA Products in Buena Vista, and the fact he has been a Poncha Springs resident since 1998.

“Poncha Springs is growing rapidly,” Coleman wrote to the board, “and I hope to have the opportunity to help shape the future of the town to help keep it the same special place that we are all used to.”

In Coleman’s recommendation from the Poncha Springs personnel committee, Trustee J.D. Longwell wrote “[Coleman] has experience with highway and road projects, infrastructure, etc. that will bring additional depth to our board.”

As one of the final points of business in Monday’s meeting, Coleman was sworn in as a Trustee and took his seat for the first time, alongside fellow Trustee Katie Davis.

Park and Open Space Options Discussed

Public works and recreational facilities were a major part of the day’s meeting. On June 12, the Planning and Zoning Commission put out a request for proposals (RFP) for park and open space use options.

The RFP was prompted by the town’s acquisition of a 30-acre land plot north of CR 120, extending up to CR128. The town wanted plans for this newly-acquired parcel as well as a handful of other available or pending available parcels within the town’s purview.

The town received one bid from KLJ Engineering for $130,00 to inventory the available land and its possible uses, assess the county and Poncha Springs master plans for parks and recreation, and conduct public engagement efforts with Poncha Springs citizens to identify their preferred land uses.

The board agreed to postpone activity on the KLJ bid until August, allowing the parks and recreation committee time to review the bid.

A nonprofit organization called Ice Rink for Chaffee County (IRCC) presented their own vision for a section of the 30-acre plot of land by CR 120. As one may guess from their name, they proposed the construction of a 190-foot long and 85-foot wide outdoor ice-skating rink somewhere on the available site.

IRCC asked the BoT to support them by not only providing the necessary land but also by supplying a “nominal” amount of financial support. With a contractual town partner, IRCC representatives John Fritz and Mark Hammer said it would be much easier to earn grant money from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), an organization that awards financial support raised from the Colorado Lottery to fund recreational organizations across the state.

The rink would be naturally cooled and shaded, which would make it skateable for two to four months out of the year. In other—sunnier—times, Fritz said some soccer organizations in the county have expressed interest in a clay court, which could be easily placed in the rink. Alternatively, a concrete base could be used as pickleball courts in the summertime.

The board said they are interested in the project but would have to take a look at the partnership contract before making any commitments.

“I like hockey,” said Trustee Evelyn Parks, to murmurs of assent from other board members.

U.S. 50 Corridor Construction

KLJ Engineering, the same company that bid on the recreational surveying project, also provided an update on their current project in Poncha Springs. The reconstruction of the corridor of U.S. 50. runs through town and the project involves the intersection with Tailwind Street and CR 127.

KLJ had conducted a survey of Poncha Springs residents regarding their preferred changes to the corridor and intersection of focus. The survey closed on June 29, and the winning option for the intersection was the construction of a roundabout.

The winning option, out of four options, for the reconstruction of the corridor was a three-lane road with no bike lane, but a large, pedestrian and biker shared-use path separated by about ten feet from traffic.

The boundaries of two land parcels, 125 and 135 Chipeta Ave were adjusted by the board to aid in the construction of a resident’s driveway without the unnecessary removal of any trees.

The board also unanimously voted to amend the on-call pay rate for public works employees, to make it more in line with other sections of the governance. On-call maintenance workers now make $50/day on weekends and holidays, in addition to their usual rate if they receive a call in. For non-holiday on-call time, they will be paid the usual rate plus $1/hour if they are called in. They will also time-and-a-half with a two-hour minimum pay for call-ins after 10:00 p.m.

Poncha Market, Poncha Pub, and Vino Salida all had their liquor licenses renewed.

The town’s bills were approved to be paid, with thanks from Trustee Parks, who said, “A big kudos to [Town Administrator] Brian and [Town Clerk] Janine, you guys did an awesome job.”

“And [Assistant to Town Administrator] Juanita Ward keeps the lights on,” replied the administrator.