Commissioners hear Lathrop State Park trail improvement plan

Agree to letter of support for CHC conservation easement

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — During the regular Huerfano County Commissioners’ meeting this week the board heard an update from Lathrop State Park Manager Stacey Lewis of the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Lewis told the commissioners there has been final approval and funding for a massive refurbishment of the trail around Martin Lake.  She reported a new concrete trail around the lake will be built, with construction commencing in March.
The renovated trail will be widened to six feet from its current five foot width and an adjacent natural surface running path has also been approved.  That path will also circle Martin Lake, where environmentally feasible, allowing runners a natural surface other than the new concrete.  The $1M project is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, via the National Parks Service and a Trails and State Parks grant funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).  Construction is expected to take three months.
Lewis also reported briefly on the status of the buildings at the former Lathrop Youth Camp where roofs were damaged in the wind storm of January 2017.  She said the state department of human services held insurance policies on the buildings and the repair work on the roofs must be completed before the full transfer package with the City of Walsenburg can be completed.  The roof work is anticipated to begin in May.
Another environmental issue came before the board as Citizens for Huerfano County is seeking a conservation easement for a 5.45 acre parcel of wetlands they received located on the very western edge of the Town of La Veta.  After hearing about the protection project from Chip Kraynyk and other members of CHC, the commissioners agreed to direct administration to write a letter of support of the group’s conservation easement request.  That letter should be completed by the commissioners’ next meeting on February 20.  While supporters hope to one day include some kind of protected trail into the area, the initial main focus will be protection and assessment of the fragile scenic location.
The conservation easement proposal will also be presented to the La Veta Town Board.
In other business:
• The commissioners approved Resolution 18-17 which proclaims February 18, 2018 as Robert Buckner Day throughout Huerfano County in recognition of his service in the USAF.  Buckner was a Senior Airman stationed in Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Mississippi.  During his military service Buckner was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Vietnam Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal and Expert Marksmanship Badge.
• The commissioners approved Resolution 18-18 which officially adopts the Upper Huerfano Conservation District’s  Noxious Weed Management Plan for Huerfano County.
• The board of commissioners approved a $25,000  public policy services agreement (contract) with George K. Baum & Company for financing research associated with the proposed new judicial center project.  The cost of the contract is funded through state grant funds.
• The commissioners approved a rental agreement with homeowners group RRR to hold their annual meeting at the meeting room of the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg on April 21 from 8 am until 4 pm.  However, the commissioners denied the group’s request for an $80 fee waiver.  The county is currently updating its use and fee schedule for county facilities.
• The board approved an insulation quote of $4,960.73 from Supply Works regarding renovations at the community center in Walsenburg; and also awarded the same firm a $975.73 contract for a refrigerator and kitchen cabinet work for the community center.  Bids for construction of the ingress/egress to the new county fuel station adjacent to the county shops was conducted; Common Construction was the low bidder at $6,164.80, and administration will review the bid and ensure all areas are covered in the proposed price before the bid is formally accepted.
• The commissioners approved the newest service agreement with Anderson Hallas Architects regarding the next planning phase of the judicial center project which covers utility relocation on West Fifth Street and other preliminary site development work at that location and on county property located immediately west of the courthouse / jail museum buildings.  The cost is grant funded and this work must be done before further financial planning for the proposed judicial center continues.
• Commissioners dealt with an agenda item from Martra Operating Partnership (MOP) concerning information regarding vacation of a portion of CR 114, off of CO Hwy. 10.  Brian Trani of MOP, along with adjacent property owner Dr. John Davis spoke with the commissioners regarding the possibility and information about the road vacation process.  As MOP begins development on their property, security is an all important issue and both men cited the fact the road, once it doglegs north, does not go to any public land. Davis, MOP and the owners of the old Warner Ranch are the only property owners affected by public use of that portion of the roadway.
Commissioners Max Vezzani and Ray Garcia both indicated they are opposed to vacating county roads because no one can predict what the future may hold, and  they are concerned about setting a precedent. Commissioner Gerald Cisneros did not comment on the issue.  However, recognizing the necessary security issue for MOP’s commercial development, they suggested those concerned apply for a restricted access permit and, if approved, construct a locked gate to limit public access onto the northern portion of the roadway.