Town Board to allow limited applications for open seat
At the regular meeting of the Berthoud Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening, the board heard the updated design concepts for the redevelopment of the old town hall site, appointed Randy Niece and Hannah Daniels to two-year terms on the Tree Committee, received the results of the audit of town finances, further examined the proposed bike park in the northwestern side of town and decided to hold a limited, three-week application process to fill the open seat on the board that was vacated by the recent resignation of former Trustee Lonnie Stevens.
Regarding the vacant seat on the board, Town Administrator Chris Kirk and Town Attorney Erin Smith argued against holding another election, citing both the cost ($30,000 according to Kirk) as well as state statute that an elected board is tasked with filling a vacancy at their own discretion.
After some debate over whom to consider to fill the vacancy, the board voted 5-1, with Trustee Tim Hardy casting the lone vote against, to allow only the three runners-up in the April 2022 election as well as those who currently serve on citizen volunteer committees (P.O.R.T., Planning, Historic Preservation and Trees) to submit applications and undergo interviews for the vacant seat, to which the appointed citizen will serve through April 2024.
While Trustees Karl Ayers and May Soricelli mentioned that allowing for applications can create the impression of “playing favorites,” a term used by both, the suggestion was made to limit the candidate pool to only those serving on the citizen volunteer commissions and the three runners-up in the most recent election; prior trustees were excluded from being eligible for application.
The argument in favor of such a process was that those who recently ran for board seats and those who currently serve on citizen volunteer boards have demonstrated civic engagement. Applicants for the open seat will have until July 6 to submit their applications and the board will vote to fill the open seat at a special meeting tentatively scheduled for July 19.
Deputy Town Administrator Jeremy Olinger provided the board with an updated plan for the bike park proposed for the northwestern side of town that was altered in response to citizen concerns. The updated plans call for moving the parking lot and restroom building, as well as one of the tracks, further north from their initial locations. The changes were made in response to vehement opposition from residents in the adjacent neighborhood to the south, who have for months expressed concerns over increased traffic and parking problems primarily along Meadowlark Drive, which will serve as the primary roadway access to the park, as well as the potential for loitering, littering, overnight camping, vandalism and the loss of native open space.
Kirk said the updated design will allow for “more than 30 parking spaces” in the relocated gravel lot, the park will not host large-scale events until the entire Richardson Park project is completed several years in the future and will operate only from “dusk ‘til dawn” in an attempt to alleviate some of the concerns expressed by those residents neighboring the proposed park.
Despite nearly two hours of conversation which included ample public feedback both for and against, the board did not make a final decision regarding the proposed bike park development, instead opting to take time to consider the updated design concepts, solicit further citizen feedback and review the updated cost estimates for the project.
The board got the results from the audit of the town finances for the 2021 fiscal year, required for all municipal governments under Colorado law, and received word that the audit provided no material findings in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The board accepted the results of the audit with a unanimous 6-0 vote.
Berthoud Economic Development Director Walt Elish was joined by Mike Walker of TB Group and Mike Schroetlin from Schroetlin Custom Homes in presenting to the board the design plans for the old town hall site on Massachusetts Ave. The plan as presented calls for a concept that will feature a two-story restaurant and office space building directly abutting the old bank building (designated a historic landmark), an open-air pedestrian corridor directly east and adjacent to a smaller commercial building. To the north, the plans call for a five-unit complex of two-story town homes with garage parking.
The plans keep with the theme of the new-age, urban, pedestrian and bicycle friendly design concepts that are included the town’s comprehensive and Mountain Avenue overlay plans. Elish stated that he is working “in tandem” with Schroetlin to attract prospective commercial tenants to the site while Kirk stated, in response to a citizen concern about affordable housing in the location, that the “price for town homes will be market rate.”
“We’re excited about what we saw, we’re excited to work with Mike and he’s willing to listen to you and work with you and I think we can make this happen,” Elish told the board. “Couple it with what we’re going to be doing on 3rd street will be a real exciting project.” The board will iron out the details of the plans before making a final decision during a study session to be conducted in the near future.
The next regular meeting of the Berthoud Town Board will take place on June 28.
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