Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Monday morning, March 20, to hear from Colorado Mesa University students, receive an update on the Otter Pond dam failure, consider a paving contract award, and hear a 2A report card from Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall.
Councilors Dave Frank, Doug Glaspell, David Reed, and Ed Ulibarri met in the Community Room at the Montrose Public Safety Complex along with city staff. Councilor Barbara Bynum attended online.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
SPECIAL THANK YOU FROM CMU STUDENTS
Colorado Mesa University, CMU, Montrose students attended Monday’s work session to signal their support for the recent announcement that CMU and the City of Montrose are partnering to expand the university’s downtown campus.
The council heard from many local CMU Montrose students who expressed interest in serving the local community.
ORDINANCE APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR ENDOWMENT FUND AND AUTHORIZING LOAN FOR 433 SOUTH FIRST STREET
City Councilors were presented with a proposed ordinance that would authorize the sale of City Hall with the proceeds to fund the city’s portion of the Montrose Permanent Fund, which will be a $2 million endowment fund. The fund is to be created in partnership with CMU, which will fund the remaining portion through the Colorado Mesa University Foundation, to provide a permanent source of funding to support Montrose students who attend CMU in Montrose.
ANDERSON ROAD PAVING CONTRACT AWARD
City Councilors were presented with a potential contract award in the amount of $679,873 for the Anderson Road Paving Project. This includes the award of a construction contract to Skip Huston Construction in the amount of $639,873 and a survey/engineering support contract to Del-Mont Consultants in the amount of $40,000.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said Anderson Road was originally built sometime in the mid-80s as a gravel-road commercial park directly off of Townsend Avenue. Since its initial construction, the roadway has remained more-or-less in its original configuration with gravel through lanes and no accommodations for pedestrians.
This project would pave Anderson Road from Townsend Avenue to Commercial Way and add sidewalks down both sides of the roadway in order to reduce dust and improve aesthetics, pedestrian safety, and connectivity.
2023 PARKS MOWER PURCHASE RECOMMENDATION
City Councilors were presented with a purchase recommendation for three Toro mowers from Roaring Fork rentals in Glenwood Springs, CO for a total of $51,423.
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid said the city’s Fleet Division has budgeted to replace three riding mowers in 2023. These mowers will be used to assist in the maintenance of the city parks that the Parks Division maintains, which includes turf in Cedar Creek Cemetery, the Sunset Mesa ball fields, and about 25% of the turf area within the remaining parks system. This amounts to about 95 acres of turf maintained by city crews and equipment.
All three mowers would be purchased through Roaring Fork Rentals, which is the regional vendor for Toro mowers, the brand used by the Parks Division and the Black Canyonn Golf Course. The city requested pricing for mowers that match what currently exists in the city’s fleet. Due to this standardization, city staff recommended a sole-source purchase. The pricing provided by Roaring Fork Rentals uses Toro’s “Tax-Exempt Bid Support Program,” which allows the city to take advantage of government pricing offered through cooperative agreements.
The Fleet Division included $49,200 in the 2023 Budget for the replacement of
all three mowers. The budgeted amounts were based on quotes received in June of 2022 and included the anticipated inflationary increases that were known at that time. The Fleet Fund had collected $56,391 over the last 8 years for these replacements. The proposed purchase amount exceeds the budget by $2,223 but is under the amount collected by the Fleet Fund.
2A REPORT CARD
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall delivered a 2A report card updating City Councilors about department statistics.
In 2019 Montrose voters approved ballot measure 2A, increasing city sales taxes solely for the purposes of hiring more police officers and support staff, acquiring new equipment such as police vehicles and safety gear, and constructing the new Public Safety Complex, which is the new home of the Montrose Police Department.
The ballot language committed the city to devote 43% of its General Fund operating budget to public safety. According to Hall, this amounted to $8.36 million in 2023.
Other items in Hall’s report included the hiring of three new patrol officers, one new school resource officer, two new detectives, one new crime analyst, two civilian report technicians, one public safety attorney, and two new record technicians. The department also hired one new traffic unit/park safety officer.
Hall said the department has 46 sworn officers with more hiring on the way.
Hall also said the department is looking forward to its second year hosting the Western Colorado Law Enforcement Academy with classes starting in May.
OTTER POND DAM UTILITY RELOCATION PROJECT
City Councilors were presented with a proposal to relocate water and sewer utilities around Otter Pond as part of the Otter Pond dam replacement project.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said Otter Pond, located off of Woodgate Road, is a private 14-acre pond and residential subdivision first developed around 1994. The pond was created by impounding the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) F-Drain through the construction of a dam embankment and outlet works at its northern end.
The Otter Pond Circle right of way and utilities were constructed by the developer over the top of and through this embankment. Prior to being turned into a pond, the land was irrigated farmland and was relatively distant from the city’s urban core.
The pond, its embankment, and outlet works are private amenities owned and maintained by the Otter Pond Homeowner’s Association (HOA). A recent records search has indicated that the embankment was never formally permitted with the Bureau of Reclamation (as the F-Drain facility owner) or the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR), the regulator of water impoundments in the state. It is not known why this permitting was not performed by the developer or their engineers at the time.
In the late summer of 2022, city street crews started to receive calls about subsidence at the northern end of Otter Pond Circle and over-top of the pond’s outlet works. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the outlet works for Otter Pond were structurally compromised due to corrosion of the pipes. Entire portions of the outlet work pipes (twin 24-inch diameter corrugated metal pipes on steep grade) had failed, which was then allowing for erosion, significant soil loss, and the development of large underground soil caverns within the embankment. Once the caverns became large enough, they started to collapse, which then showed up as sinkholes and depressions at the road surface.
Once discovered, Otter Pond Circle was closed by city street crews in the vicinity of the embankment. Following the discovery of the outlet works failure, the Otter Pond HOA reached out to the Colorado DWR’s division of dam safety. The regional dam safety engineer performed an emergency inspection of the embankment and immediately ordered the HOA to begin an emergency drawdown of the pond on the premise that progression of the embankment to failure was plausible if left in the current condition. The Otter Pond HOA then worked to set up a siphon over the embankment and partially drew down the pond. Since this initial inspection, the dam has remained under a formal fill-level restriction order imposed by the state engineer.
The division of dam safety then worked to determine the jurisdictional status and hazard classification of the pond and its embankment. Following several surveys and modeling of the flood hazard presented by a potential failure of the embankment, the division of dam safety determined that the embankment and reservoir do fall under the jurisdiction of the state and classify as a significant hazard.
Modeling indicated that a failure of the embankment would lead to floodwaters several feet deep between Otter Pond and the Uncompahgre River, including much of Woodgate Road and the Community Recreation Center property.
As a significant hazard dam under the jurisdiction of the state, repair of the embankment and its outlet works would need to occur under the state’s purview and according to their dam-safety rules and regulations.
To that end, the Otter Pond HOA hired an engineering consultant to complete the design of the repair. In the interest of protecting property downstream of the pond and ensuring the emergency situation was stabilized as quickly as possible, the city also committed $100k in ARPA funds to assist with emergency drawdown, design, and repair of the embankment. At this stage in the project, the cost for Otter Pond HOA to replace the dam and its outlet works is estimated to be between $500k and $700k.
Repair of the Otter Pond dam will require removing portions of the existing embankment and outlet works, construction of a new, properly sized/configured outlet works, and reconstruction of the embankment back to the road level. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the city’s water and sewer lines currently run parallel to and within the embankment.
In response to these risks/issues, city staff recommended that the water and sewer utility lines be relocated around the embankment entirely. The relocation work is expected to cost approximately $235k ($140k water, $95k sewer) and would need to occur at the front end of their dam replacement project.
The Otter Pond HOA’s goal is to have the dam replacement complete and the pond ready to refill by April 2024. Before construction on the dam can begin, it will be necessary for all designs to be approved and permitted with the BOR and state DWR. It is unknown if this overall schedule is feasible at this point.
The detailed mechanism for incorporating the utility relocation work into the dam replacement is still being worked out with the various project stakeholders. Because the utility relocation work is still within the area of influence for the dam embankment, the relocation work will likely need to be folded into the overall dam replacement project under the purview of project engineer and the DWR’s division of dam safety.
Assuming this is a viable path forward, the project’s bid could be organized such that the utility relocation work is priced individually within the overall project bid documents and paid for directly by the city, subject to approval by City Council. If the utility relocation work occurs within 2023 (as an unplanned and unbudgeted project), it would be necessary to fund the project using reserve enterprise capital dollars and/or reprioritize other utility projects planned for 2023.. Alternatively, if the project expenditures occur in 2024, the utility relocation work could be included in the city’s 2024 budget.
Scott Murphy said the city is working to get bids for the South Third Street Plaza project which includes closing a portion of South Third Street to expand the CMU campus.
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid said contractors working for the city are close to finishing renovations to the City Council Chambers. Scheid said city staff is working to coordinate the completion of the new Main Street City Hall and the City Council Chambers. Scheid said the first City Council meeting in the renovated chambers is expected to be on April 17.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via the city’s website and cable channels 191 for Charter subscribers and 970 for Elevate subscribers. Replays of council meetings are also broadcast at 6 p.m. on the same channels on days that the council is not in session.
In addition, each regular meeting is archived on the City of Montrose’s YouTube channel.
Residents can watch all regular City Council meetings and work sessions live and on-demand through the city’s Public Meetings Portal.