Meigs, Rendon and Graham elected

Big changes are in store for the Durango City Council. Local voters weighed in last Tuesday, tapping Leigh Meigs, Michael Rendon and Scott Graham. Incumbent Sidny Zink and Tom Howley did not gain second terms.

A total of eight candidates were vying for three vacancies on the board. In addition to Zink and Howley, Councilor Dale Garland’s term was up, but he did not seek re-election. As voter returns started to come in April 3, it was clear that Meigs and Rendon were front runners, while Graham and Zink were in a neck-and-neck race close behind. However, the final tally had Meigs with 2,123 votes, Rendon claiming 1,893 and Graham edging out Zink with 1,697 votes to 1,648. Linda Geer came in at fifth place with 1,183 votes; incumbent Howley tallied 965 votes; Jerry Swingle had 916 votes; and Peter Tregillus rounded out the field with 573. Meigs and Rendon won four-year terms, and Graham will have a two-year ride, finishing out former councilor Virginia Castro’s term.

Immediately following the returns, Meigs announced that she was excited not only with her election to council but with the general message of the vote – a call for responsible growth.

“I’m thrilled that the message Michael, Scott and I were trying to get across did get across to voters,” she said. “The public wants to have a seat at the table, and the public wants responsible growth.”

Rendon echoed Meigs and also referenced the momentum created by recent national and state elections. “I think this sends a strong message that on the national level, on the state level and on the local level that people want progressive change,” he said.

Scott Graham also cited the election as a call for controlled growth. Graham may have been the most controversial candidate on council, having gone head to head with Zink on the Twin Buttes development.

“I think there’s a real desire to see civility and openness on council as well as addressing the whole growth issue, which is something we all spoke about at forum after forum,” he said.  

Meigs, Rendon and Graham will be sworn into office during the council’s April 17 meeting. The three will join councilors Renee Parsons and Doug Lyon, who will take Zink’s position as the city’s mayor.

City invites Test Track comments

Durangoans have been invited to comment on proposed changes to the popular Durango Mountain Park trail system. Less than a mile west of downtown, the Durango Mountain Park consists of 271 undeveloped acres laced with more than a dozen miles of trails. Long a popular recreation area, the Mountain Park, aka Test Track, gained permanent protection in 1995.

The Durango Mountain Park is not without its problems, however. Lack of connection among many of the area’s trails, the appearance of numerous user-created trails and sections of singletrack that experience excessive erosion are all issues at the Test Track.

“For quite some time, we’ve been talking about better organizing the trail system up there,” Kevin Hall, Durango’s Parks Open Space and Trails director, said. “It’s a bit of a spaghetti network and a lot harder to find your way around than a lot of our other trail networks.”

As a result, the City of Durango, in cooperation with Trails 2000 and La Plata Open Space Conservancy, is reviewing a proposal to modify the trail system. The proposed modifications are intended to ensure that the park remains in compliance with requirements of the conservation easement placed across the property. These requirements include balancing recreational uses with habitat protection.

The public is invited to review the proposed trail system modification map on the City website at, found under the link “Ongoing Projects.”

The Parks and Forestry Advisory Board will discuss the proposed changes and consider public input April 19 at 5 p.m. at the Durango Community Recreation Center. The Parks and Recreation Department will also accept comments at up until April 12.

Mesa Verde expansion in works

Mesa Verde National Park could be growing thanks to a mandate from Washington, D.C. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., has introduced a bill that would authorize the expansion of the park west of Durango.

“Mesa Verde is known for preserving some of the world’s most famous archeological sites,” Salazar said. “This unique national park is a World Heritage Site that will only be more enhanced with this expansion and the passage of this legislation.”

The expansion would include the acquisition of 324 acres adjacent to the park now owned by the Henneman family. The National Park Service, the family, the Conservation Fund and the Mesa Verde Foundation are all partnering to make the expansion possible. The property would be purchased by the Conservation Fund and transferred to the park. On top of that 324-acre transaction, the Mesa Verde Foundation will donate another 38 acres to the park.

Landowner Jerry Henneman said, “Our property helps comprise the visual gateway to the park from the main entrance road and U.S. Highway 160, and is highly visible from Point Lookout within the park. It provides winter habitat for mule deer and other species, and allows for the continuation of major wildlife corridors back and forth from the park.”

Salazar’s bill is a companion bill to one co-sponsored by Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar in the U.S. Senate.

Trout Wall mural ready to kick-off

Work on the Animas River Trail Trout Wall Mural project, a public art piece commissioned by the City of Durango, kicks off this Saturday. The Trout Wall mural will begin with a workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. on April 7 at the Durango Discovery Museum, near the future site of the piece.

The Arts Collaborative, a group of Durango artists selected to produce the piece, will give an introduction to the project and the student design team, followed by a walk to the Fish Hatchery for a discussion of Animas River ecology and fish habitat. The student design team will participate in a symbolic tile-breaking ceremony to mark the first step in the mural fabrication process. Refreshments will be provided.

The kick-off event marks the first of several community-based workshops designed to engage young students in learning the techniques of mosaic tile works and steel fabrication. The students will work with the Arts Collaborative to design and fabricate the Trout Wall Mural, slated for installation in the summer of this year.

Durango offers food tax rebate

The City of Durango is giving a hand up to local residents in need. Durango residents are invited to apply for the Food Tax Rebate Program. Individuals and families who meet residency and income requirements are eligible for a rebate of up to $144 per year.

The program’s income requirements are as follows: A one-person family making less than $20,800 is eligible for $50; a two-person family earning less than $23,750 is eligible for $98; a three-person family making less than $26,750 is eligible for $120; and a four-or-more-person family earning less than $29,700 is eligible for $144.

Application forms are available at City Hall and online at and will be accepted through June 30.

– compiled by Will Sands