Ark Valley Conduit on Fast Track


Bill Long and Lee Miller, representing the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, told the Lamar City Council an influx of federal funds has allowed the Arkansas Valley Conduit to move forward on its construction date.  The Conduit, first proposed in 1962, has been treading water for half a century or more until the past few years, explained Long.  “We now expect to break ground by the end of 2022 or early 2023 on the project which will bring potable water from Pueblo to Lamar and we expect the construction time to be cut in half, with completion expected by 2029 instead of 2035,” he stated this past Monday, May 23rd.

Because Lamar is on the direct delivery line and not on a spur, the city will not be subject to extra costs to add its own connection line to the main conduit pipe.  Long said the Bureau of Reclamation has a $1.6B budget for various projects around the country and the federal government is contributing $50M to the conduit costs, estimated around $500 million to complete.  “We’re still looking for grants through the life of the project, to keep costs down,” he added.

This will be a complex and complicated task in light of 39 different entities that are on the conduit line and Long and Miller said it’s important that these groups establish a governance structure ahead of the completion date.  “This will be a chance for us to govern ourselves and allow each town to determine how it will address its future water needs,” Miller said.  He explained that the conduit is using Project Water as a primary source and conduit users need to have alternate water sources if the Front Range issues a water call at some point in the future.

There are six counties on the conduit line and Lamar and La Junta, as home-rule cities, will have a voice and membership in the governing body.  Miller said a gathering of interested parties will be held June 15th at Otero Junior College in La Junta to sound out plans for a draft for future governance.  Lamar Mayor Kirk Crespin recommended the city’s water attorney, David Choat to be involved as well as city attorney, Lance Clark.  Future work sessions on the project will be set up to coordinate the communities during the construction period.

Following a pubic hearing on a request to annex Farm Credit of Southern Colorado, FLCA into the city boundary, the council voted in favor to annex the 2.03 acres at 1301 East Olive Street, northward of Olive Street between Camino De Santa Fe and CR 9.  The property will be zoned as C-3.  A public hearing was set for June 13th for a special event, beer-garden permit requested for the annual Sand and Sage Round-Up to be used between August 11th and 13th at the Prowers County Fairgrounds. A public hearing was also set for that date for transfer of ownership/retail liquor store license for Coronicas Liquor Store on 100 North Main Street in Lamar.

The council approved the memorandum of understanding with the Colorado Plains Meat Company, pending a name change which will allow grant requests to move forward.  Plans involve constructing a slaughter/packing house facility in Granada with the capability of processing 150 head per day.  The one-year renewable agreement calls for the solid waste product to be refrigerated prior to transport to the City of Lamar landfill.  The proposed fee is $70 per ton and $100 per hour to dispose of the product at the landfill.

Diane Anderson, Robin Hunter, Mathew Miszak and Gerry Jenkins were granted acceptance by the city council to become members of the Lamar Public Safety Board.  The ordinance creating the advisory board was approved almost a year ago.  Five members will be appointed to serve staggered four-year terms with the initial appointment having three members for four-year terms and two members for two-year terms.  Jenkins will serve to represent the city council.  The board will meet quarterly to provide input to the Lamar Police Chief, Fire Chief, City Administrator and city council.  Recommendations from the board will be in an advisory capacity only.

The contract with Purple Wave Auction was approved by the council.  The company will assist and conduct an online auction to sell equipment and miscellaneous office items for the city this June.

Daniels Construction was awarded a bid for the Fort Bent Canal Pedestrian Bridge.  Daniels Construction was one of two bids received for the project and their low bid of $155,000 was accepted by the city council.  This is a CDOT funded project which involves building a five-foot-wide pedestrian bridge over the canal with five-foot ADA ramps and sidewalks on both ends of the bridge connecting the LCC parking lot to the south and the sidewalk along Highway 287 on the north side.  The contract calls for completion of the project within 120 days of the start.  Councilwoman, Anne-Marie Crampton, expressed a concern that the entry to the bridge from the college side of the canal may be so far removed from the sidewalk, that few students may use it.

An ordinance was approved on first reading, amending sections of the Lamar Municipal Code for the safe use of North Gateway Park by area visitors.  The amended sections pertain to any dog park or off-leash area in which dogs are permitted without leashes as provided in the Code.  It will be unlawful for any person to lead, bring or release any other type of species of animal into or upon the dog park or designated off-leash area, to fail to obey posed rules, regulations or guidelines for use of the dog park or designated off-leash area or to bring a vicious animal into a park or designated off-leash area.

A second ordinance was approved on first reading establishing a program for identifying and registering vacant commercial buildings.  It spells out the responsibilities of property owners regarding safety, structural stability and code compliance and to speed the rehabilitation of vacant buildings in the City of Lamar.  The owner of a commercial vacant building shall pay an annual registration fee of $250 per year and each subsequent year the building remains vacant.  A series of penalty fines for non-compliance under the City Code were developed which calls for a written warning for the first offense, $100 for a second, $200 for a third and a $300 fine for the fourth and any subsequent offenses thereafter.

The council decided that the terms on an agreement between the city and developer Ivor Hill had been met and the city would release the $10,000 performance bond back to him.  The property at 700 East Parmenter had been renovated to meet the terms of the agreement following several extra extensions on the end date.

Administrator Evans noted there will be a public observance for Memorial Day at 2pm at the veteran’s section of Fairmount Cemetery on Monday, May 30th.  The City of Lamar will hold a dinner meeting for residents at Las Brisas Restaurant on Wednesday, June 1st at 6pm, the meet-and-greet will allow residents to ask questions of city council members or make suggestions about the community.  Coffee sessions with Evans continue each Wednesday at 7am at the Hickory House on June 8th, Pit Stop on the 15th, and Dunkin Donuts on June 29th.  Evans also noted that due to the extreme hazard of prairie fires across the state, at this time, the 4th of July fireworks display at the Prowers County Fairgrounds has been cancelled.

The council moved into executive session to discuss personnel matters for discussion with the City Administrator and for conference with the City Attorney to receive legal advice on specific legal questions.
By Russ Baldwin



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