Competing priorities nix alley paving idea

Council says comprehensive plan needed first

Councilor Sweetie Marbury suggested raiding the city’s piggy bank to pave Durango’s dirt alleys this year, but the City Council ultimately agreed with Councilor Dick White who suggested a comprehensive plan was needed to sort out the many competing priorities for infrastructure improvements, such as road repair.

“When Roosa (Avenue) washes into the river, that’s a bigger problem,” Councilor Paul Broderick said Tuesday during a study session.

Councilor Christina Rinderle also called the conditions of city streets “embarrassing.”

“There are pot holes where you could lose the axle of on your car,” Rinderle said.

Marbury was motivated by plight of residents who can’t access their unpaved alleys in winter.

Because a new Land Use Development Code would permit accessory dwellings on the alleys, Marbury suggested the city take advantage of $2 million increase in its fund balance to fix the problem sooner rather than later.

“We do have this windfall, this opportunity,” Marbury said.

But City Manager Ron LeBlanc brought up other considerations, such as whether residents should help pay for improvements to the alleys behind their homes since the city also requires residents to help for pay for improvements to the sidewalk in front of their homes.

Also, work on alleys should not begin until the city determines the condition of water and sewer lines that are buried beneath the alleys, LeBlanc said.

In other business, the council approved $104,277 for the acquisition of 26 acres of land across the Animas River from the city’s waste-water treatment plant and Santa Rita Park. The property is mostly along the river’s western shoreline and hillside, adjacent to the dog park.

The property will be used as a construction staging area when in-channel infrastructure improvements are made to the white water park later this fall.

The land was acquired with funding from a designated half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2005 for Open Space projects.

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