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During last week’s Trinidad City Council work session on Nov. 23, City Manager Mike Valentine gave a rundown of the ongoing proposed projects on the city’s list for completion as funds are available and served only as a source of discussion to figure out council’s desires for what to focus on in 2021.

“We should be committing to just three or four items that I put up, and I put some big ones in there,” said Valentine. “We have a commitment target amount of $6.6 million. We have over 12, almost $13 million but we’re only committing six. The rest is for emergency operations and such. Hopefully we can leverage these amounts and get granting for some of these.”

Going down the list, projects were broken up by estimated cost, dedicated Capital Improvement Project funds, and the directed amount of the $6.6 million to be assigned to said projects. It should be noted this list highlights all of the major projects that city council and staff feel merit primary focus for the city and not a list of what will be done next year. Council will look at a number of factors in deciding what projects to actually fund with the $6.6 million moving into action in 2021.

First up on the list were improvements to the Riverwalk along the Purgatoire to lighting, maintenance, enhancements, and trail heads at an estimated cost of $1 million, with $100,000 coming from the Capital Improvement Projects funds.

“Not knowing what we’re going to need to do with the Riverwalk, I threw in an estimated cost of one million,” said Valentine. “This is by no means anything set in concrete, just a quick stab at it to give some direction.”

In addition to Riverwalk development, trail development and construction of trails and amenities based on trails master plan, both current and future, was also listed with no estimated cost as of yet.

As the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) continues to move forward with their plan to remodel Exit 11 on Interstate-25 implementing a roundabout design, the city projects list also included Exit 11 improvements including landscaping and roundabout enhancements at an estimated cost of $100,000. Valentine explained that because of limited budget, CDOT may ask that the city help with costs if they’d like to see more beautification efforts with the exits, such as what has been the case with landscaped exits in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, hence the project line item.

“CDOT only has a limited amount of funding for the Exit 11 roundabout design,” said Valentine. “They may be asking the city to possibly contribute if we want to do any kind of enhancements in those roundabouts so I threw $100,000 at that.”

Other major road projects include Van Buren and Main improvements at an estimated cost of $50,000, the five-point turn at Colorado and Commercial coming off of Exit 14 at an estimated cost of $1 million, landscaping enhancements to Exit 15 for an estimated $100,000, and Exit 18 improvements to El Moro and the Industrial Park for an estimated $75,000, all of which could be covered by CIP funds.

Additionally, Valentine said they would also like to do some improvements to West Main Street coming into downtown from the interstate eventually.

“From our entrance, where you come off the highway on Main, basically from Santa Fe Trail to Animas Street, there’s a three block stretch there that is not really inviting as you get into town,” said Valentine. “That estimate is $3 million and includes tying the street in with the rest of downtown’s theme as well as replacing water, gas, and electric infrastructure under the road when we pull it up.”

An estimate of $7.5 million was given for complete removal and replacement of bricks on San Pedro Street, which Valentine said was part of the National Historic Registry.

A covered swimming pool had also been in the talks for a while and Valentine put down an estimated $6 million but said there were some options that needed to be explored before a solid direction be divulged.

“There’s so many options with that,” said Valentine. “Whether we build a facility that’s permanent, or they have the dome like the Broncos practice in where it sits over the swimming pool. There’s been many back and forth discussions on that. It would be great to have a covered pool for year round operations, but the maintenance and operation costs of that are very prohibitive.”

In councilmember comments, while it was mentioned that it would be great to give youth something to do year round, many felt that because of the needs of infrastructure improvements that was probably not the best use of funds as of right now.

Also on the list was the $500,000 that Space to Create needs to go toward the $750,000 it will take for the completion of the Common Area on the first floor at the Main Street location.

The Welcome Center and Amtrak Station were on the list but had no estimated cost.

Plans for overhead lighting of Garfield from Allendale north to Jackson Ave. at an estimated $35,000 was also included with funds potentially able to come from CIP.

Monument Lake also had $150,000 budgeted from CIP funds which Valentine expressed was the norm and done annually.

Covered under Utilities, there was also a line item for construction of a water treatment plant below Trinidad Lake for an estimated $11 million along with a water transmission line from that plant to city limits for another $12 million and $50,000 to go toward improvements to the watershed in the process.

The total estimated costs of all the projects on the city’s current proposed projects list came to $61,301,000. To reiterate, it will be council’s job to figure out what to allocate the allotted $6.6 million; no easy task given the circumstances.

As Trinidad continues to grow, several councilmembers stressed the importance of focusing on infrastructure development such as the road improvements and treatment plants to be able to handle the increased population.

“I see that as a pre-eminent thing that we should be concerned about right now with the development coming our way,” said Ogletree. “I’m less inclined to support things that are decorative, as opposed to things that stabilize what makes us a town, which is our infrastructure.”

Councilmember Rusty Goodall expressed they should carefully look at what the greatest potential returns could be from what they chose.

“There’s so much we need to do, I think we need to definitely stay focused on the biggest bang for our buck,” said Goodall. “Main Street is important. Five-points is important. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

After some discussion, council agreed that the five-point intersection was a big issue that needed attention so after the $1 million for that was allocated, along with $1 million allocated to Riverwalk improvements, $3 million for West Main Street improvements, and $941,000 for economic development land acquisition, that left $659,000 left to pin on proposed projects.

Some projects, Valentine speculated could be done with funds out of CIP so before bringing a final resolution forward he expressed he would like to get better estimates to pinpoint what was left to assign to other projects for their next meeting on Dec. 1.

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