by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — While it has been four months since Walsenburg voters decided to turn over city policing authority to the Huerfano Sheriff’s Office, little progress has been made to transfer cases, equipment, and evidence to county law enforcement.
Former city police captain Vince Suarez told city council Tuesday night he had been working with the Pueblo Police Department to provide personnel to perform an audit of the evidence room. He said, however, that plan is no longer viable as the PPD doesn’t have available personnel to provide the service. He told council members he was still seeking an outside agency to perform the audit.
He said he hoped a full transfer of cases, equipment and evidence could still be done by the end of February.
During the regular meeting, the first in many weeks where all council members were present, council voted unanimously to continue looking into a Trinidad proposal that would see Walsenburg provide a gas line tap to that city’s north side industrial park. The vote was made only to continue discussions, not to enter into any specific agreement.
Council approved the purchase of a small front end loader with snow removal attachments.
City administration announced it would likely be keeping one or two of the former police Dodge Durangos; one to be used by city utility departments and as an administration vehicle and the other to be used in code enforcement.
City council heard a presentation by interim finance director Jan Schmidt on a fund balance and financial policies document. Council will review the proposal before taking formal action to adopt it. The city is conducting a background check now on a candidate for the finance director’s position. Schmidt is scheduled to leave the city at the end of the month.
Council members also heard a presentation by Dan Guimond and Brian Duffany of Economic and Planning Systems concerning the city’s economic development strategy.
The report indicated the city needs to revitalize downtown with improved streets, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping and get downtown property owners involved in those efforts. The presentation also recommended promotion and support of the Fox Theatre and pointed out that arts clusters/districts are good for downtown areas, especially in tourist destination communities. Development of the highway interchange areas, such as Northlands was discussed as were priorities for the coming years, including the suggestion the city and county jointly hire a full time economic developer.
While indoor agricultural was mentioned, there was little in the report devoted to bringing employment to the community.
In other business, the city will be sending letters to tap holders on the raw water line this month, outlining the options available to those residents to obtain potable water. Cisterns and wells continue to be the only real options as the city is under a state compliance order to ensure none of the raw water lines are being used for human consumption.