Dennis Steiner

Trinidad resident Dennis Steiner, along with other area residents, shares concerns with city councilmembers regarding the homeless and drugs around his neighborhood at the last regular city council meeting. Pictured (L-R) Steiner, Interim City Manager Mike Valentine, City Attorney Les Downs and Councilmembers Anthony Mattie and Kathleen Griego.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, city councilmembers of Trinidad met for their regular meeting at City Hall to discuss items on the agenda, beginning with a proclamation by Mayor Phil Rico establishing the month of October as Conflict Resolution Month.

“I, Phil Rico, Mayor of the City of Trinidad, Colorado, on behalf of the entire city council, do hereby proclaim the month of October 2019 as Conflict Resolution Month in recognition to the ongoing commitment to collaborative and constructive needs of conflict resolution now and in the future,” said Mayor Rico.

Following the proclamation, the floor was opened for public commentary at which time several members of the community came forward to express concerns regarding transient activity in their neighborhood.

Cathleen Groso was the first to come forward to share her concerns about the problem of homelessness in Trinidad.

“I know everyone knows we have a problem in this town,” said Groso, “but I don’t think they know the extent, especially in our neighborhood. We’re a residential neighborhood with many families with small children. I’ve lived here for ten years and never seen it this bad.”

She went on to explain people across the street from her are lighting campfires along the river and reported seeing them on several occasions coming out to check door handles on vehicles attempting to steal from them.

“Last November my husband’s truck was broken into,” Groso continued, “and all of his hunting gear was stolen, which was about $3,000 worth. This resulted in us having to pay for a privacy fence and a security system. We have lost many nights of sleep over these people.”

David Groso came forward next to express the same concerns.

“Since [the homeless] have been present, this neighborhood along Boulevard St. and Valley is no longer a safe or enjoyable place to live in,” David Groso said. “Drug needles are found lying in the streets and cops are called frequently to this area due to fights and fires and thefts of residents’ property. There’s a homeless camp less than 100 yards away from my front doorstep. I understand this is a town wide problem, however they’re not only in the middle of our town here; they’re also in the residential neighborhoods at this point and affecting our lives. It’s getting real frustrating.”

Council responded by mentioning that there should be no one on city park property between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and that they would inform law enforcement of this issue.

Lastly, Dennis Steiner came forward to voice similar concerns and recommend changes to the park areas.

“My impression of [the trail extension passed Safeway] was a boulevard walk along the river when initiated,” said Steiner. “Now it’s turned into a park. To find out that it’s going to be a park is very disturbing. The impact of traffic and intrusion on Alta Street is, as the others said, making us not feel safe. It seems you shifted them from underneath the bridges to other neighborhoods.”

Steiner also mentioned a need for more signage posting hours the public is allowed to be there, adding that residents around the area would like to see the park close after dusk as opposed to 10 p.m. as it is currently.

Following the public commentary, bills and payroll for October were approved and an ordinance allowing the municipal landfill to begin collecting e-wastes for recycling along with appropriate fees was also passed.

“I think it’s great that we will have a place we can take our old computers and televisions and things like that to dispose of it properly,” said councilmember Carlos Lopez.

A review of a Conditional Use Permit for CannaCo was also approved. In essence, the move will allow CannaCo to update some of their products on their shelves. A representative of CannaCo was present for the review. Several members of the board expressed they believed it was unnecessary to review a CUP that’s already been issued and business license established.

“I think that it unnecessarily encumbers the process for us to review a conditional use permit,” said councilmember Anthony Mattie. “To my way of thinking, that probably shouldn’t happen. I liken a conditional use permit to be a temporary instruction permit for a new driver, subject to review periodically. When we have somebody that already has six licenses and he’s a ‘licensed driver’ so to speak, why would it be necessary to review what he’s doing if he has a license? I think that it’s in everyone’s best interest, particularly the City of Trinidad, if we could make whatever adjustments and changes are necessary to say that.”

In miscellaneous business, a motion was passed to re-appoint Wayne Pritchard to the Planning, Zoning, and Variance Commission.

Following Pritchard’s re-appointment, the same consideration of re-appointment of David Fabec to the Planning, Zoning, and Variance Commission took place. After evaluating previous experiences, the board moved not to re-appoint Mr. Fabec due to unethical behavior.

A first reading of an ordinance of the City Council allowing storage containers and shipping containers only on a temporary basis on private property was presented and a hearing date for consideration was set for Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.

Consideration of bid results for a wheel loader for the landfill was also presented which would cost $209,875. Public Works Director Tom Beach said the city could expect 12 to 15 years of life out of the new loader and the funds received from auctioning off the older one will go right back into funds used to purchase the new one. The motion unanimously passed.

Lastly, a hearing was conducted for the appeal filed by Trinidad Holdings Company, LLC of a decision rendered by the Planning, Zoning and Variance Commission. The company had let their CUP expire, giving a new lease to the Planning, Zoning and Variance Commission after the cut-off date for renewal. A lawyer was present to represent Trinidad Holdings Company, LLC however no actual partners of the company were present. After a lengthy debate as to why the company should be given another chance despite their lack of prudence, the council decided against the appeal in support of the Planning, Zoning and Variance Commissions decision.

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