RIDGWAY – The Ridgway Town Council gave its approval last Wednesday to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation, to get the ball rolling on the collaborative $12.5 million Streetscape project that will improve many aspects of Ridgway’s downtown infrastructure over the next two years.
“This is where the rubber hits the road,” Town Manager Jen Coates said of the IGA, which spells out in detail the terms of the collaboration and financial commitments of the two parties, ensuring that the Town of Ridgway has a seat at the table as decisions are made by CDOT along the way.
“It’s an interesting and unusual hybrid project, with CDOT being the big dog, us (the Town of Ridgway) as the little dog and DOLA (which just contributed $500,000 toward the project) being the other big dog,” Ridgway Mayor John Clark said. “It’s gratifying to see it all coming together.”
Clark added that he had been “losing sleep over how unpleasant and potentially painful” the construction process might be. Coates stressed it would be crucial to “make sure we are connecting with the business community” as the project rolls forward.
Once the final authorizing entities at CDOT give their seal of approval to the IGA, a kickoff meeting will be held in early June, followed by intensive staff commitment from the Town of Ridgway to make sure Streetscape design elements are executed according to plan.
THE DELICATE DANCE OF COMMERCIAL DESIGN GUIDELINES
The Ridgway Council approved a resolution at its meeting on Wednesday, adopting new Commercial Design Guidelines as an element of the Town of Ridgway’s Master Plan.
The guidelines apply to all new construction and exterior alterations of properties within the Town of Ridgway’s two primary commercial districts: the Historic Business District (HBD) and the General Commercial District (GCD).
The guidelines address mass and scale, architectural design and materials, screening and buffers, and more, striving to attain a balance between ensuring that “new development should add to the town’s character, sustainability and quality of life, provide for a sustainable, well-balanced economy, and maintain Ridgway’s unique appeal,” as spelled out in the town’s master plan, while avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach that would not be conducive to a healthy business environment.
“This has been a really long process,” said Town Planner Jen Coates. “There was a very diverse committee representing diverse perspectives, stakeholders, with goal that town could have a solid conversation about commercial priorities.”
Coates emphasized that the guidelines are clearly spelled out, but most are not mandatory, except for an element referring to site planning and parking, that must be adopted as an ordinance at an upcoming council meeting in June.
Councilor Rick Weaver questioned “What is the point of doing guidelines if they are not mandatory?”
Coates explained that “You can be at cross-purposes when regulating a lot of detail. Guidelines really are a development tool. We need some really comprehensive tools to direct our commercial growth, while making sure we don’t create a business unfriendly climate in Ridgway. It’s a delicate dance.”
Councilor Ellen Hunter moved to approve a resolution adopting the guidelines. The motion passed unanimously.
Hunter also moved to approve introduction of an ordinance “Amending Town Zoning and Development Regulations to Provide Revised Building Design, Site Development and Landscaping Standards.” The ordinance will appear on the agenda for a first reading at an upcoming council meeting in June.
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW FAIRGROUNDS ARENA
The Ridgway Town Council approved a plan outlined by Ouray County Fairgrounds Director Susan Long, to tear down the existing arena infrastructure at the Ouray County Fairgrounds, and erect a new arena, using all-volunteer labor over the coming weeks.
The components of the new arena are already on their way to Ridgway, after the Ouray County Fairgrounds Association successfully raised the funds needed to purchase the set-up last month.
“We believe the old fencing will be torn down and the new fencing will be put up by the weekend of June 9,” Long said. “We have the largest outdoor arena on the Western Slope and we want to build on that to bring other events in.”
SUNRISE SUMMER SOLSTICE 108 SUN SALUTATION PRACTICE
Ridgway yoga teacher Tracy Lockard has a dream: To get 108 people signed up to perform 108 sun salutations together, at dawn, on the summer solstice, at Ridgway’s Hartwell Park.
“It’s a practice I do every year [indoors] on the winter solstice,” explained Lockard (who owns Inner Mountain Yoga Studios in Ouray and Ridgway) to the Ridgway Town Council at its meeting last Wednesday, as she sought council’s permission to use the park to perform the practice. “When you do the 108 sun salutation practice and you are all together, your hearts actually start beating together,” she said.
The practice would get underway at 6 or 7 a.m., and would be accompanied by live music – African drums, or perhaps a guitarist.
“The practice lasts 1.5 hours, and would be open to whomever wants to come and partake in the magic,” Lockard said.
Council generally thought it was a very cool idea, and gave its collective blessing to the venture, “as long as you are not blasting the guitar,” Mayor John Clark added. “And knowing this community, I don’t think we will have any trouble getting 108 people.”
RIDGWAY HERITAGE DAYS
Ouray County Ranch History Museum Board President Joan Chismire approached council on Wednesday, seeking a special event permit and permission to use Hartwell Park for the second annual Ridgway Heritage Days event to be held on June 15.
The day-long event is a collaboration between the Ranch History Museum, Ridgway Creative District (of which Chismire is also a member) and Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce. The event kicks off with a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Ridgway Fire Department from 8-11 a.m.
Heritage Days vendors and performers will then gather at Hartwell Park from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., showcasing many different aspects of Ridgway’s heritage. Among the attractions, there will be a cowboy gathering, traditional blacksmiths, and Ute Indian dancers and drummers. There will also be a program on ranch branding at the Ridgway Community Center.
Council enthusiastically granted Chismire’s request to use Hartwell Park for this purpose, and also gave its collective thumbs-up for a Father’s Day benefit concert featuring country western singer Michael Martin Murphey, to take place on the Ridgway Town Park stage immediately following Heritage Days events, from 4:30-6 p.m.
Funds raised at the show and a post-concert “meet and greet” will benefit the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, Chismire explained. Another cool idea, council agreed, as Clark cranked up a Murphy tune on his computer.
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