Corps reopens Long Hollow
Efforts to build Long Hollow Reservoir
in western La Plata County hit another bump last week. In addition
to opposition that includes the project's supposed beneficiary, the
Army Corps of Engineers has decided to reopen the public comment
The Long Hollow
Reservoir is an attempt by the La Plata Water Conservancy District
to satisfy the La Plata River Compact drawn up between Colorado and
New Mexico. The compact mandates that half the flow of the La Plata
must cross into New Mexico. During summer months, the compact is
frequently not met. The LPWCD claims that a new reservoir that
would inundate 160 acres 4 miles north of the border would get
Colorado closer to holding up its end of the bargain. Opponents
counter that the reservoir will negatively impact La Plata River
water quality and cheat Colorado taxpayers out of millions of
dollars. New Mexico is also skeptical about the value of Long
Hollow Reservoir and has expressed its concerns that there is not
adequate supply to fill it.
Kara Hellige, chief of
the Corps' Durango office, said that the Army Corps needs to get
buy-in from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. She said
that currently Long Hollow appears to be creating a situation that
causes continual disagreement between the two states. Hellige also
said that she recently heard from numerous downstream residents who
were not aware of the proposal. Consequently, the comment period
has been extended until Jan. 30.
"I received several
phone calls from downstream residents who had not heard about the
project being out on public notice," she said. "I wanted to make
sure they had an opportunity to comment."
Hellige added that the
comments are open to the public at large and that until the LPWCD
can satisfy a number of concerns, Long Hollow Reservoir will not
move through the process.
Grandview surmounts two hurdles
On the other side of La Plata County,
a project of a different flavor is proceeding through the planning
process. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe's proposed Grandview
development received two OKs in the last week from the Durango
Planning Commission. The tribe has applied to develop 2,211 units
around an expanded Mercy Medical Center on 682 acres east of
On Jan. 8, the Planning
Commission voted to recommend the annexation of the 682 acres
inside city limits and approved a conceptual development plan for
the project. Earlier that week, the Durango City Council adopted
the Grandview Area Plan, which details land use for the entire
Grandview area. On Monday, the Planning Commission also approved
the conceptual plan for the new and expanded Mercy Medical Center.
The $76 million facility will be a centerpiece of the tribe's
development but is proceeding on a separate planning
"The Durango Planning
Commission and the Durango City Council have approved the Grandview
Area Plan that allows for the review of projects within it," City
Planner Greg Hoch said.
Hoch said that the
Planning Commission's approval of the two conceptual plans sends
them to the Durango City Council for consideration Jan. 20. A
preliminary plan for Mercy is expected in the near term, and the
2,211 units will proceed on a slower track. "We don't expect to see
any preliminary plan on them until late in the spring," Hoch
County considers Ridges Basin closure
La Plata County is currently
considering whether to close County Road 211, the road crossing
Ridges Basin, on a more permanent basis. The road has been
temporarily closed to facilitate construction of the Animas-La
Plata project and the original closure has expired.
County Engineer Rick
Routh noted that the road was supposed to be reopened for the
winter, but the contractor has continued to work through the winter
months. The road links Bodo Park and Wildcat Canyon, and Routh said
the primary reason for the closure is public safety.
"There are the kind of
trucks working up there that would crush a small vehicle and not
even know it," he said.
Routh said that the road
has been closed since early last summer, and the county has gotten
no negative public feedback. "We haven't heard one peep from
anybody who wants to use the road," he said. "But before we go and
close the road we want to make sure everyone has a chance to
In this spirit, the
county will hold an open house on the issue on Jan. 20 from
4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Florida Room at the La Plata County
Fairgrounds. Should the county take the expected step, the road
would be closed for the life of the project, estimated at six more
years, before being reopened.
DMR opens Paradise terrain park
The new Paradise Freestyle Arena at
Durango Mountain Resort survived the controversy and officially
opened last Friday, Jan. 9. The new terrain park starts adjacent to
the Paradise Race Arena, just below the top of Lift 1, and runs
more than half a mile and 600 vertical feet down rider's right on
Paradise and features 10 consecutive hits.
"We've been working on
putting together a world-class terrain park here at DMR for several
years," said designer Eric Mischker. "The terrain on Paradise has
allowed us to do just that, and the hit-to-hit transitions running
top to bottom should put even the best riders to the
Unique to the park is
the inclusion of the locally built S-Rail. Silas Hatch and his
classmates at Durango High School designed and built the rail in
their fabrication class, with their teacher certifying the welds.
DMR provided the funds for the materials.
The decision to site the
park on Paradise had been somewhat controversial with several
skiers bemoaning the loss of the front-side cruiser.
City extends parking meter time
Bowing to a request from downtown
merchants, city officials have made all parking meters in the
Central Business District into three-hour meters. The cost of
parking has not changed, but cars will now be able to pay for three
hours rather than two.
"Our goal in extending
the parking time is to allow people the opportunity to spend more
time in the downtown area without having to worry about the meter
expiring," said Mayor Virginia Castro. "Several merchants have
expressed their dismay at hearing shoppers say that they can't
browse any longer because they're concerned about the parking
meters. We hope this change will positively affect visitors to the
Central Business District."
Recent research on
downtown parking confirms that many factors contribute to a
less-than-efficient parking situation, according to the city. Bob
Kunkel, Central Business District coordinator, commented, "Over the
next few months, we plan to announce several new programs that will
provide incentives to make parking downtown more customer friendly
and increase the economic value of parking to our downtown
merchants. At the same time, we will also increase the
disincentives that currently are working against those
compiled by Will