Town recreation programs and staffing in 2014 were summarized by Sarah Brooks, Town of Palisade’s Recreation and Events Coordinator, at the meeting of Board of Trustees on Tuesday, February 24. Brooks presented a comprehensive review of the department operations for the previous year, both in terms of profitability for the Town, and the health and well-being of Palisade residents.

Brooks pointed to various programs such as the adult hikes through the summer, and group fitness classes throughout the week as being popular with adults, and the youth programs  and special events like the Back to School Beach Party bringing more participation from our younger citizens.

She discussed the success so far of the internship program, where a student from Colorado Mesa University has been hired to assist with recreational program planning and administration for a semester. It began last summer with Tristan Hiraishi’s help through the fall, continuing with the hiring of Mary Brennan for the spring semester. Mary is currently teaching tennis and racquet sports at Taylor Elementary and working on activities to keep the kids moving.

Brooks also explained a new commercial use agreement that came into use in 2014. Applicants wishing to use town facilities in order to generate revenue will now need to supply proof of insurance in addition to the revenue split with the Town.

Community Garden

The Community Garden will be undergoing a minor facelift with reconstruction of some of the planter boxes, and tilling of the ground underneath. The addition of the Honeybee Hive, the Ol’ Red Tractor and the pallet trellis have all added visual interest, with some benches and tables still planned, as well as another composter.

The Aquatics programs at the Palisade Pool have been building in participation, in addition to swim lessons, there is now a swim team holding meets, and the popular Dog Day at the end of each summer.

Award presented

Trustee Susan L’Hommedieu presented an award from Palisade Pride to Scott Holzschuh of the Colorado National Bank in appreciation for their help with many Palisade events. Most recently, they were the sponsor of Palisade’s Cen-Ten, the 110th Birthday celebration. The bank is also a big supporter of the Brews and Cruise Festival, Peach Festival and Olde Fashioned Christmas.

Holzschuh thanked the board as well for their support in the recent changes at the bank, including a major interior remodel.

Meeting room etiquette

Mayor Granat made an announcement to members of the public in attendance, asking them to please take any private conversations outside the meeting room to the building lobby or outdoors, instead of interrupting the meeting for the others in attendance. He also asked the board members to use their mics when speaking, as some members of the audience have had a hard time hearing the trustees.

Town Administrator Rich Sales also informed the board that he has been looking into improving the sound system in the meeting room as there have been other comments about the acoustics.

Thea Chase appointed

Mayor Granat appointed new trustee Thea Chase to the Park and Recreation Advisory Committee, commenting that he thought she would be a good fit after reviewing her qualifications. Chase was pleased to be named to the committee, saying that she was “looking forward to working with PRAC, obviously an important committee.”

There was no public comment on any topic not included on the night’s agenda.

Temporary fee reduction

Trustees agreed to temporarily reduce the lodging fee normally charged in order to give homeowners a chance to register any short-term vacation rentals for site plan approval. Once registered, they will be asked to pay the bed fee along with the town’s other lodging facilities.

Trustee Bennett Price asked how the short-term vacation rentals will be monitored. Planning Director Ron Quarles fielded the question, answering that it will be treated the same way as the other lodging providers, they are self-policed until there is reason to think they need oversight. In that case, they are governed by the town codes, so would be dealt with by the code enforcement officer of the police department.

Price then asked how often the lodging providers send in their fees. Town Treasurer Joe Vlach explained that some report on a monthly basis and one on an annual basis, but said their reporting frequency could be tied to the frequency of their state reporting if desired.

The temporary fee reduction was approved unanimously by trustees.

Also unanimously approved was Resolution 2015-07 regarding support for a letter written by Mayor Granat to the Colorado legislature. He expresses Palisade’s support for the efforts of the Colorado Stormwater Council to work with the state legislature on defining stormwater management as non-injurious to water rights holders, provided certain conditions are met. Certain stormwater containment methods, necessary for flood control and fire protection, are being questioned as possibly being injurious to water users downstream. Legislation is desired to specify exact mitigation methods to be used.

In another water issue, Resolution 2015-08 was passed authorizing signing of a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation for the delivery of 10,000 acre feet of water from Green Mountain Reservoir. Administrator Sales explained the contract as being about water that would be used to protect endangered species of fish in emergencies. The water cannot be taken out of the river, although it can be used by recreationalists. Grand Junction and Fruita are also partners in this agreement, which has a 40 year term. Mayor Granat expressed some concern over the length of the term, but then realized after reading it through, that the ‘if and when’ clause offered the necessary protections. Trustees Price and L’Hommedieu voted against, while Sundermeier, Granat, Edwards and Prinster voted in favor of signing the agreement.

Public Works Director Frank Watt invited the public to an informational open house on Thursday, Feb. 26 to ask questions about the Main Street project that is soon to begin. Ben Dowd, the contractor, will be there as well as Patrick McAllister of Palisade Irrigation Pipes and Laterals.

Grant opportunity for charging stations

Watt also discussed a grant opportunity available for funding charging stations for electric powered vehicles. He has asked the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for money for three stations. Explaining that electric car owners need a place to go for the period of time their cars need to re-charge, it might be a great opportunity to show off Palisade to a temporarily captive audience. He also said that people are starting to plan trips based on where charging stations are located.

Watt suggested placement of one station at the new restroom facility in downtown Palisade, and one by the alley next to the Lavender Lady’s new location on Main Street. He just received the information on the grant money available, and will have more details such as costs of the plan as well as possible revenues, at a future meeting. Tesla has provided charging stations near the mall for Tesla vehicles, and some hotels currently provide charging service to their guests.

Plans for 225 West Third Street

Town property listed for sale at 225 West Third Street was also discussed by trustees. There has been an offer made by Rondo Buecheler and Cindy Chrysler, contingent on a few conditions that are mainly due to a problem with registration of the deed. Rondo also wanted to be more certain that financing is available for his proposed project before signing off on it as well.

Buecheler spoke to trustees about his plans for the property, envisioning combining retail space for the River Company as well as some type of residential property on the second floor, maybe a VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or short term rental unit. Buecheler requested a one-year time limit on putting the proposal together to give him time to work on financing, and the town will have time to clear the title.

All trustees were present for this week’s meeting. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center meeting room.