Commissioners talk roads and historic sites

by Beecher Threatt
Delays by the county's magnesium chloride vendor have held up the Road and Bridge Department's schedule for applying the dust control material. Supervisor Chris Miller told the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday that according to the contract with Envirotech, 100,000 gallons were to be delivered by May 1, with another 104,000 gallons to follow as the county storage unit was emptied. As of last week, just 40,000 gallons had been received. That amount arrived only after County Attorney Marti Whitmore wrote to the company and pointed out it was breaching the contract with the county.

County resident Robert McDaniel addressed the board during Call to the Public and expressed his frustration that County Road 24 would not get mag chloride until July. Commissioners Heidi Albritton and Lynn Padgett said they had received calls complaining about the dust also.
Fortunately for McDaniel, Miller said CR 24 would be treated on Tuesday. Treatment of County Road 1 had started on Monday, with a covering called Durablend, but the company could not supply enough to complete the job all at once. Crews switched to mag chloride treatment of CR 24 while waiting for more Durablend and were able to return to CR 1 on Wednesday. Durablend is being tested for durability on CR 1.
Unfortunately, not enough mag chloride had been delivered to finish CR 24 on Tuesday. Miller told commissioners he was extremely frustrated with Envirotech and did not want to use them next year.
Also on Tuesday commissioners considered the two lowest bids for repairs to the escarpment section of County Road 1, also known as "Luge Hill." Contractors were invited to bid on two options that would install and replace culverts, remove soft spots and seal asphalt on either the entire stretch (2.18 miles) or just the top half. Bids came in at 20 to 30 percent above estimates, mainly due to costs for traffic control, which in the lowest bid exceeded the estimates by $51,200 and $25,500.
"The number for traffic control in this bid is absolutely stupefying," Commissioner Mike Fedel said.
Commissioners asked staff to consult with the bidders and attempt to get traffic control costs down. Ideas tossed around included closing both lanes for longer stretches during the day, creating more inconvenience for drivers but perhaps cutting costs. Residents Ed Von Delden and Alan Staehle recalled that during the paving of that same stretch, Log Hill residents volunteered to take classes, and they carried out traffic control at no cost.
Commissioners were in agreement that the entire length of the escarpment should be repaired and that funds would come from those already budgeted for the project from the Log Hill B and I Fund and from the Road and Bridge Paving Maintenance Reserve and Sales Tax funds. The two lowest bids, before renegotiation of traffic control costs, were $430,532.12 and $497,669.83.
Regarding the discovery that the historic Guston Depot site had been bulldozed (see Plaindealer, June 14), County Planner Mark Castrodale told commissioners that the owner of the property met with Castrodale and offered to donate the depot area property to the county or to the Ouray County Historical Society. The owner did not know that the boards he bulldozed were part of an historic site and the destruction was not intentional.
Castrodale said the Land Use Code provides a way to exempt from subdivision regulations the parcelling off about 200 feet of the property to preserve the depot site. He asked if the board wanted him to proceed with making the donation happen, and they agreed.
An informal group has made progress toward posting signs near the Camp Bird buildings to reduce vandalism. The mine office and mine manager's home are on private property, and the owner has not taken steps to address vandalism and weathering of the buildings.
County commissioners authorized placement of signs on the public right-of-way near the buildings. Signs will convey the historical nature of the buildings, that this is private property and that fines will be levied for damage.
The informal group consists of interested citizens and representatives of the Ouray County Historical Society, Western Slope 4-Wheelers and the county. The historical society has set up a fund to accept donations for installing the signs.
In other business on Tuesday, the board:
-- entered into a lease with Silver Star Resources, LLC, which will carry out underground mining on county property in the Virginius-Revenue Mine area. Padgett praised the company for working well with the county and pointed out that the public trail which runs near the mine, the Virginius Trail, can still be used by the public.
-- continued its ongoing show cause hearing concerning the hundreds of tires that washed down from Laurence Gunn's property into the Uncompahgre River last July. The next hearing date is July 24 at 1 p.m.
-- declined to take official action of ordering removal of rubbish from a property after a complaint by a neighbor, as it was not egregious enough to warrant action. "One man's nuisance is another man's worksite," Fedel said.