County road crew, snowmobile club were at odds over damage to trail from Silverton to Eureka.
By Mark Esper
A dispute between the Silverton Snowmobile Club and the San Juan County road crew was mediated last week by the San Juan County commissioners and the broken trail between Silverton and Eureka has been mended.
Bill and Laura Alsup, along with snowmobile club president Jim Lokey, told the commissioners Wednesday, Feb. 10 that the trail along County Road 2 near the Powerhouse had been obliterated by the road crew, which was trying to unblock some culverts.
Laura Alsup said the problem has been going on for a number of years and Bill, who grooms the trail for the snowmobile club, finally had had enough.
She said the road crew was “needlessly tearing up the trail system.”
Lokey said he had a look at the scene and while he realizes the county road crew had to reopen the culverts, “I think he (road crew supervisor Louis Girodo) overreacted. He tore into that trail.
“I understand there’s a water problem there,” Lokey said. “We need to reroute the trail.”
Lokey said the road crew should have better communication with the snowmobile club.
“I understand he has a job to do,” Lokey said. “That doesn’t mean he can create a safety problem. We need a little more cooperation here.”
Lokey noted the snowmobile club spends some $32,000 a year to maintain the winter trail system.
“Now we have to go pay to rebuild that (section of trail),” Lokey said.
Lokey expressed frustration that the snowmobile club is trying to bring visitors here for the winter, and the road crew has undermined those efforts.
“You can’t go and rip 150 yards of trail out,” Lokey said. “We’ve got a lot of time and money put into this. We’re the people that bring people into town.”
County Commissioner Terry Rhoades said he also inspected the scene of the dispute, where the snowmobile trail runs alongside County Road 2.
“He (Girodo) did what he felt was right,” Rhoades said.
And Rhoades said as the commissioners’ point man for road issues, complaints should be addressed to him. He suggested Girodo had been subjected to unfair abuse.
“Come to me and cuss to me. That’s what I get paid for,” Rhoades said. “I want us to get along with the skiers, the snowmobile club, everybody. We have enough trouble with everything else that’s going on right now.”
Rhoades blamed a lack of communication for the problem, and he said the obvious answer was to reroute the trail through the Powerhouse site along Mears Avenue.
“I want to get this totally cleared up right now,” Rhoades said. “There’s been enough fighting. We need that trail. We also need the county road. I’ll work with you guys any way I can,” he told Lokey and the Alsups. “I want everyone to be friends again.”
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman said he too inspected the disputed ground and found that the road crew “did have a water problem.
“Three culverts froze up and he (Girodo) had to open them up,” Kuhlman said. “He did get overly aggressive.”
Kuhlman said he liked the idea of rerouting a segment of the trail along Mears Avenue.
“It’s a matter of working together,” Kuhlman said.
The commissioners sent Lokey and the Alsups down the hall to the county treasurer’s office, where Bev Rich, president of the San Juan County Historical Society gave her blessing to rerouting the trail across historical society property at the Powerhouse.
And on Thursday, Feb. 11, the new segment of trail was groomed, signed and ready for use.
Update on Anvil Mtn.
At the Feb. 10 county commissioners’ meeting, Laura Alsup also reiterated her concerns over the Anvil Mountain workforce housing project.
She said she figures the county has spent more than $1 million on the project and is likely to recoup only half of that when lots are sold.
And she expressed dismay that the project has been pared from a proposed 53 units to 31.
Alsup said the matter raises the question of competence in the county courthouse.
“The taxpayers of this county need to have confidence in our elected and hired officials and their ability to meet the needs of the community with skills sets that are appropriate for these complex situations,” Alsup said. “Others and I wonder if your qualifications are up to the standards needed to serve our community.”
Alsup said the affordable housing effort was “the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time and at the wrong price.”
Alsup told the commissioners they should fill the large holes left from the environmental cleanup and put the property up for sale.
“The jobs have to come first,” Alsup said. “Disgruntled taxpayers vote.”
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman noted the environmental cleanup at the site is complete and the county has received a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Brownfields Foundation to fill the large holes left at the site.
And he said the county also has a grant to extend utilities and infrastructure to the site of the proposed subdivision.
He said that will be necessary to make the property useful.
“It doesn’t have much value if it doesn’t have utilities,” Kuhlman said, adding that he still envisions building a new county barn on the property along with the affordable housing. “We need the water and sewer out there for that to be useable for anybody.”
Kuhlman said the commissioners plan to hold work sessions prior to the construction season “on what needs to be done out there.
“We’ve got to fill the holes. We’ve got to put utilities in,” Kuhlman said.
Commissioner Terry Rhoades noted that the property was purchased using money received from Durango Mountain Resort to address housing impacts related to its expansion into San Juan County.
Kuhlman said “I know we’ve made mistakes in this area. We didn’t know the contamination would go down 18 feet.”