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Grand Lake rec district looks for alternative site for air curtain burner

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Concerned about impacts to neighbors while wanting to be a good one itself, the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District board found itself in a tough spot Thursday night during its monthly meeting.

The district considered allowing the town of Grand Lake to use its land to pile beetle-kill slash from now until mid-June, at which time the land would become a staging area for a large air-curtain destructor that would burn the slash.

But neighbors to the old dump property on County Road 466 voiced concern about the proposal to the town board Monday for reasons related to the environment, fire potential and excess traffic.

The town board responded to each of the neighbors’ concerns, and in the end approved the lease between it and the recreation district.

But the plan to burn slash from about 4,500 trees out of roughly 6,500 that will be removed from town rights of way this spring depended on final approval from the recreation district.

Last night, recreation district board members heard 466 Road neighbor Larry Malouff speak about a ground water gamble he has living near a former solid wastes site.

Although testing so far has proved that his well water is safe, he said, the land is still a “time bomb.”

Malouff said he could tolerate tree-contractor traffic if he had to, and he understands the many precautions being taken with the air curtain burner, but any disturbance to the land is what worries him.

The recreation district has declined to put ball fields on the land because of its potential to become a costly clean-up problem, according to district members.

“The liability is a can of worms,” said district President John Gould.

Yet Gould opened the discussion up to other possibilities for the town, with the aim of remaining “good neighbors.”

Another piece of recreation district property was considered, up the road from the dump property where considerable logging has already taken place.

Fire Chief Mike Long said the fire danger potentially could be higher in the new area, but agreed to meet with Grand Lake Town Manager Shane Hale, neighbors to the property and Recreation District Director Janice Peck to study the site.

The land needs to meet three criteria in order for it to be suitable: Ski trails cannot be impacted; homeowners must be satisfied with the proposed use of the land; and the fire danger must be minimal, the board said.

New recreation director

In other news, Lisa Debevec was introduced to the recreation board. Debevec is the new general recreation director, taking over job duties formerly held by Becky McBride, who in a budget decision was not offered a full-time marketing/recreation director position. The result of a controversial split vote on the board means McBride no longer has a position with the district.

District Executive Director Bill Winfield informed the board that Debevec’s position is hourly.

“I have all the confidence in her enthusiasm and her ability,” Gould said. Winfield announced that the recreation district is in need of volunteer help for program fundraising.

2007 in retrospect

Gould read out loud a summary of the district’s year “2007 in Retrospect,” prepared by the general manager. Highlights of the year were the completion of significant district projects, such as a major forest management project, a new irrigation system at the golf course, a newly built maintenance facility, new equipment for the golf course and touring center, and resurfaced tennis courts.

“There still remains funds to address the clubhouse facility, the cart storage building and the enhancement and expansion of our trail system,” Gould read. “During this year of projects, the district was able to keep the operational budget projection of a $220,000 loss to less than a $30,000 loss for the year (preliminary and un-audited).”

Tournament request

Ed Peterson and Dave Whitman of the Independent Sports Club negotiated lower green fees for a charity tournament, June 21-22.

The Independent Sports Club is a local organization that in 23 years has donated $260,000 to the youth of Grand County through scholarship funds, sponsored trips or needed equipment.

Peterson requested $50 green fees this year (green fees are set at $60) to help raise more for ISC through the tournament. The board agreed to the price of the fees, but asked that the tournament tee times be bumped to earlier in the morning to allow more afternoon full-price players.

Getting a moderator

With major steps taking place at the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District, and just on the tails of an emotional and controversial board decision to eliminate the position held by McBride, Winfield asked for board permission to contact a facilitator for a special board workshop in the near future. The manager outlined goal setting, redefinition of goals, and the need for the district to author a board-member orientation package to help future incoming board members. “It would behoove us all to have a moderator to move forward with the tasks at hand,” Winfield said.

“A lot is happening with the district, and it’s a critical year. We don’t want any distractions as we move on,” he said.

” To contact Tonya Bina, 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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