|Emptyseats: A lonely swing set sits unused
Monday afternoon./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
River Trails starts planning process
Eight hundred new units have been proposed for the property
formerly known as the Kroeger Ranch. Developers Bob Wolff and
John Wessman have filed an application for River Trails Ranch,
a development on 242 acres in the Animas Valley, and a first
city Planning Commission meeting is set for Feb. 20.
“It’s just about ready to start the process,”
said City Planner Greg Hoch.
Seizing on the New Urbanism approach, the plan for River Trails
Ranch calls for 800 housing units of various types immediately
north of Durango off County Road 250. The development plan also
contains space for businesses, schools, parks and an open space
dedication in the Animas River floodplain.
Wolff and Wessman have retained Berkeley, Calif.’s, Calthorpe
Associates, considered pioneers in the New Urbanism movement
for co-founding the Congress of New Urbanism.
“It’s really a whole different approach to growth
and development for our county,” said Wolff of the effort
to replicate a cityscape and reduce sprawl.
Last year, La Plata County approved a plan for 67 units on
large parcels for the 242 acres. However, when Wolff and Wessman
approached the City of Durango for water and sewer, they were
told that 67 units did not square with the city’s comprehensive
plan, which calls for 600 to 800 units in that area.
“We’re proposing 800 units which is what the city
has asked us to do,” said Wolff.
Hoch said that the city will also be asking Wolff and Wessman
to make affordable housing a component of River Trails Ranch.
“He waiting to see what our city position is on inclusionary
(affordable) housing before he commits,” he said. “He
knows it has to be a component of his development plan.”
At the first Planning Commission hearing on River Trails Ranch
on Feb. 20, Peter Calthorpe will be on hand to explain the project.
Hoch estimated that review of River Trails Ranch will be complete
in six to nine months.
Iron Horse Rally appeals to Aztec
Last week, the city of Aztec was approached by the Iron Horse
Motorcycle Rally to host a motorcycle rally on Labor Day weekend.
Last year, the Iron Horse group was unable to host an official
rally in Ignacio, and a new group, the Four Corners Rally in
the Rockies, has successfully brokered a deal with the Southern
Ute Indian Tribe to host an event in Ignacio this Labor Day
Plans for a scaled-down version of past Iron Horse rallies
were presented to the Aztec City Commission last Thursday. No
decision on hosting the event has been made. Aztec City Manager
David Velasquez said that city is proceeding “with caution.”
He commented, “We’re moving on it very slowly.”
While Aztec is cautious about the proposal, Velasquez said
there is enthusiasm for the event, particularly from a business
perspective. However, the northern New Mexico city is not jumping
right into a contract.
“We’re taking it really slow and looking at all
the angles,” Velasquez said. “We want to make sure
that if it happens, it’s a win-win situation.”
Tribe continues energy quest
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe continued its acquisition of
energy interests with its largest purchase ever. On Feb. 3,
the tribe’s Growth Fund bought the Honolulu-based Kukui
Inc., an energy exploration and production company, for $123.4
million. The company has been renamed Animas Energy LLC and
is a new subsidiary of Red Willow Production Co., the tribe’s
primary energy company.
Bob Zahradnik, the Growth Fund’s director of operations,
said: “The tribe formed Red Willow in 1992 to go and buy
back energy interests on the reservation. In 2000, the directive
changed to look for properties everywhere. Now we’ve got
interests from Central Alberta to East Texas.”
Red Willow has been making numerous acquisitions lately. Most
recently, the company acquired 142 gas wells on the reservation
for $26 million.
“We’ve had four major closings since Nov. 1,”
said Zahradnik. “It’s been a busy few months.”
Red Willow is the most profitable arm of the tribe’s
“It’s been extremely profitable,” said Zahradnik.
“Red Willow’s rate of return has been around 44
Bighorn release set for Cascade
On Feb. 13, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will release
between five and 10 male bighorn sheep north of Cascade Canyon
with the help of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
In Jan. 2001, the D&SNGR was instrumental in delivering
27 bighorns to the wilderness area north of Cascade.
The re-establishment effort has been successful, and now the
DOW plans for a supplemental release Feb. 13. “We plan
to transplant five to 10 selected rams to the area where the
original sheep were released,” said Drayton Harrison,
Durango District Wildlife Manager.
The bighorns will be relocated from the same Georgetown, Colo.,
herd where the original 27 sheep were transferred.
The D&SNGR will transport the sheep in a boxcar pulled
behind the train’s diesel locomotive. The train will leave
the station at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, picking up the boxcar
loaded with sheep at Rockwood Station, 18 miles north of Durango.
College completes Fieldhouse remodel
In an effort to make it a safer, more modern facility, $4 million
in improvements were recently completed to the 32-year-old Fort
Lewis College Fieldhouse. Among the improvements are a renovated
roof, a refinished floor, brighter lighting, a new heating and
air-conditioning system, and an upgraded lobby and concession
The state approved funding for the improvements last spring,
but the project was frozen with other state capital construction
projects for weeks. Because of the importance of making the
facility safer, the Legislature allowed the development to continue.
Vice President for Business and Finance Steve Schwartz said
the state saw a critical need to repair the roof because the
snow-load capacity was not sufficient. “Because it was
a health-life-safety issue, the state determined a need for
continuance of the project,” Schwartz said.
The newest round of renovations marks the third significant
change to the facility that first opened its doors in 1971.
The Athletic Department held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting