Durango, CO: In a 4 to 1 vote council on Tuesday approved a property exchange between the Durango Fire Protection District and the city involving River City Hall and the former Durango School District 9R administration building.
“This is momentous for our community, and will have lasting impacts,” said Mayor Melissa Youssef. “Our facilities desperately need upgrading, and this is a great opportunity.”
The former school district property at 201 E. 12th St. would be used for a City Civic Center, potentially consolidating City Hall, River City Hall, Carnegie Building, and the Police Department. The River City Hall site at 1235 Camino del Rio would continue to be used as a fire station site but rebuilt to fit the needs of the fire district and the community. The city would also pay the fire district $3.6 million due to the difference in property values.
Councilor Bosmans voted against authorizing the contract on Tuesday, saying other properties should be further explored for the fire station and there was not enough community engagement regarding the property exchange.
Councilors held two scheduled meetings on Tuesday: A study session at 3:15 p.m. and a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 949 East Second Ave.
At the study session council:
- Held a discussion on prioritizing proposed department capital projects budgeted for 2024. City Budget Analyst Elliott Fitz told councilors the impacts of COVID continue. As of June there were 20% of capital projects awarded, which reflect 39 projects. Fitz said that nationwide there is approximately a 9-month construction backlog, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group. “Construction backlogs are the highest since Q2 2019,” he said.
At the regular meeting council:
- Recognized City Clerk Faye Harmer for achieving her Master Municipal Clerk certification. Only 10% of city clerks throughout the state of Colorado have a Master Municipal Clerk certification.
- Received an update on Southwest Conservation Corps’ climbing stewardship project. The project aims at improving access to recreational climbing spots in a way that is conservation minded. This summer, conservation corps crews spent seven weeks at Dalla Mountain Park restoring an eroded trail to Euro Boulder. “Dalla Mountain Park has the highest concentration of climbing in any park in any city in the state of Colorado. Until this project with Southwest Conservation Corps crews, we had not been stewarding Dalla Mountain Park with climbing in mind,” said Amy Schwarzbach, the city’s natural resource manager. Council also gave a special thanks to all of the crew members that worked on the project over the past seven weeks.
- Approved a property exchange with the Durango Fire Protection District and the city. Under the deal, the city trades River City Hall for the former Durango School District 9R administration building. “As a Durango resident we’ve been waiting decades for a new fire station, and I do feel that this will be a benefit for the whole community.” said councilor Gilda Yazzie.
- Reviewed a proposed ordinance that would transition the Durango Local Licensing Authority to be administered by the City Clerk’s Office. Staff is recommending this transition to eliminate excessive meetings and save staff time, to make the issuing of marijuana and liquor licenses a quicker process, and to maintain a thorough review and approval processes interdepartmentally.
- Introduced an ordinance that would approve the annexation of a 1,928-acre parcel into the City of Durango from the Durango Mesa Park Foundation. A public hearing to discuss the annexation was scheduled for the Sept. 5 regular council meeting. A proposed initial zoning for the property includes rural agriculture, and open space.
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