Public safety on minds of Gilpin County Commissioners

Bicycle and automobile drivers sharing local roads, fire mitigation needs, floodplain development restrictions

By Lynn Volkens

Gilpin County Commissioners Buddy Schmalz, Connie McLain and Gail Watson met February 26, 2013. They began their meeting with a computer presentation showing the routes and details of a bicycle ride/race which will occur in June, discussed an upcoming floodplain ordinance, and finished their meeting with a work session with representatives from Timberline Fire Protection District.

June Bicycle Event

  Organizers of the Golden Gran Fondo, part of a national championship series of bicycle rides, asked for Commissioners’ support of their event, which will bring 500-600 riders through and around Gilpin’s back roads and highways on June 23, 2013. The event starts and ends in Golden with three routes of varying length. The 63-mile and the 91-mile loops have much of their routes in Gilpin, along Highways 119, 46 and 72 plus various county roads. Commissioners expressed numerous safety concerns. Extra help will be needed from law enforcement, fire departments and ambulance service during the event. There is little, if any, benefit to Gilpin County in having this event here, Commissioners noted, and wondered, considering how much of it is here, why Gilpin County was the last of many governmental agencies the Gran Fondo organizers, Reuben Kline and Martin Quinn, had visited. While they can’t prevent the event from using the roads here, they offered support only cautiously and asked that the event coordinators cover additional expenses (mainly overtime for law enforcement), provide adequate communications, support vehicles and port-o-potties (riders will be told to use facilities in Golden Gate State Park and at the Wondervu Café), and that a donation be made to a Gilpin County non-profit group. The Golden Gran Fondo is a fund-raiser for Bicycle Colorado, a cycling promotional and lobbyist group. The organizers hope to make the Gilpin County ride an annual event.

FEMA Floodplain Regulations

  County Planner Ray Rears provided a proposed ordinance for Commissioners to use in adopting updated floodplain regulations as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The ordinance is an updated version obtained from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCG) Rears and County staff had reviewed the ordinance and suggested changes to customize it to meet Gilpin County needs, mainly a section which mirrors the County’s zoning code and addresses penalties for noncompliance. The ordinance designates the County Planner or County Building Official as the Floodplain Administrator in charge of implementing and enforcing the ordinance’s provisions, including approval  and denial of permits for development within a floodplain area. As with other variance requests, Commissioners, as the Board of Adjustment, have final say should there be an appeal of the administrators decision. Commissioners reviewed the proposed ordinance and directed Rears to craft the ordinance without a penalty section as non-compliance penalty fees can be handled through existing zoning and building regulations. The ordinance is to be published in its entirety in the Weekly Register-Call once Rears has determined the language and will be put on a public meeting agenda prior to approval.

Departmental Reports

  At Gilpin County Public Library 2,648 items were circulated during January, with DVD movies and television series being the most popular checkouts (559 items) and children’s/young adult materials following with 523 checkouts. E-book circulation numbered 119. Estimated visits for the 22 open days totaled 1,268. The library has received a new collection of books and films called the “Muslim Journeys Bookshelf” and hopes to offer a future read-and-discuss “Let’s Talk About It” series around the Muslim cultural topic. Library Director Larry Grieco is co-editing a book project, Creative Management of Small Public Libraries in the 21st Century which will be published in 2014 by Scarecrow Press.

Pine Beetle Infestation Slows

  The U.S. forest Service (USFS) and Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) recently announced that the spread of the mountain pine beetle is slowing. The beetle gained 31,000 acres in 2012, compared to 140,000 acres in 2011. Since the initial outbreak of 1996, the beetle has affected 3.4 million acres in Colorado. The beetle remains active in areas from Estes Park to Leadville.

The spruce beetle outbreak is on the rise, with 183,000 new acres affected in 2012 and 924,000 acres affected since its 1996 outbreak. The San Juan and Rio Grande national Forests in southern Colorado have been hit hardest.

Drought, warmer winters and dense stands of trees are all factors that stress the trees and make them more susceptible to beetle damage. To date, more than $5.7 million in state and federal funds have been awarded to fund mitigation/restoration projects across Colorado. There are 17 projects currently in progress.

SEMTAC Appointment

  Governor Hickenlooper has appointed Commissioner Schmalz as the representative from a rural county to serve on the State Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Advisory Council (SEMTAC).

 Work Session

  Following the business meeting, Commissioners met with representatives from the board of directors of Timberline Fire Protection District who had requested the work session to discuss ways in which the two boards could work together for the common goal of protecting people and property.

Heads Up

  Gilpin County Commissioners will meet tonight, Thursday, February 28, 2013, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gilpin County Community Center to offer Gilpinites a chance to talk with them informally. The agenda is open, but Commissioners have suggested that School Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Broadband Access and a Shooting Range, may be topics of interest. The one-hour length of the meeting may limit in-depth discussion.

Commissioners meet next for regularly scheduled business on March 12, 2013 at the Courthouse in Central City, their usual meeting place.

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