~ by Rick Langenberg ~
It wasn’t exactly a pitch fork rebellion by the natives, but last week a group of Green Mountain Falls’ residents voiced a slew of concerns over the town’s deteriorating roads during a board of trustees meeting.
In addition, some locals complained about what they referred to as lackadaisical marshal patrols, no workable street lights and a lousy town hall attitude.
However, the road situation captured the main focus of debate during the snowy evening of Nov. 7. The weather may have deterred some elected leaders from attending the session, but the town hall meeting chambers was filled with angry residents.
The regular meeting was cancelled due a lack of a quorum. But due to many resident concerns, a number of which have been aired on social media outlets, Mayor Jane Newberry agreed to hold an open discussion with the citizens.
“The roads, in my opinion, are in terrible shape,” blasted resident and former trustee Mac Pitrone. “What I am observing, I don’t like.”
Pitrone admitted that town residents may have been spoiled from much better service in a previous administration. But he contended that GMF Public Works Director R.J. Viers needs more employees. “You have got to get this guy some help,” added Pitrone.
The former trustee wasn’t alone in voicing outrage over current road conditions, as some residents almost made comparisons to a Third World Country scenario. Some cited such major entry ways as Spruce Avenue as un-drivable, and contended that they couldn’t access their own driveways at times. “We got a problem,” said resident and former trustee Howard Price, who demanded solutions.
“We are frustrated,” said resident Carolyn Davis. She asked the leaders if it would take a lawsuit before changes occurred.
“The road issue has been deplorable,” said Trustee David Pearlman. “There has been some terrible damage to these roads.”
Town officials conceded that GMF has experienced many road woes, but stopped short of outlining a definite solution or future plan. “We have got to make changes,” admitted Viers. Unfortunately, he indicated that many of the town’s gravel roads were designed for a summer community.
Also, town officials and residents admitted that the summer’s torrential storms didn’t help. Pearlman cited the violent state of the storms last summer as the main culprit, rather than the amount of total rain the town got bombarded with.
Town Manager Verla Bruner stated that the staff is doing everything it can to address this issue with their limited resources. She mentioned a limited public works staff, a lack of road base and excessive speed limits, as some of the main problems. “I would like the roads to be perfect,” she explained.
The town manager recently toured the entire network of local roads for eight hours to assess the situation.
After outlining a variety of probable solutions, and hearing offers of help from the public, town officials agreed to possibly post a future schedule of what roads it plans to concentrate on each week. However, with the onslaught of winter, the town’s attention will now be geared more towards snow removal effort.
Not all of the comments voiced last week were negative about their work.
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” said resident Margaret Peterson. “We have to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. We are a community.”
Peterson, who represents several local civic groups, maintained that the current staff is working extremely hard to try to develop a solution to the town’s road problems. She complimented Bruner for examining the roads in detail.
Marshal Patrol and Town Hall Attitude
The open forum also highlighted a familiar complaint in town these days: Why isn’t the town having more marshal patrols. “I am disappointed I don’t see the marshal,” said Pitrone, who served on an advisory committee, established to select a new head law officer last winter.
After the town went an extended period without having any law enforcement presence, Pitrone emphasized the importance of having marshal visibility within the community.
GMF Marshal Virgil Hodges, though, took exception to Pitrone’s complaints. As an experienced law officer for decades, he stated that he has been doing a considerable amount of work behind the scenes, and must rectify previous problems created by his predecessor. “You don’t see everything I do,” said Hodges, who cited his increasing role in doing vacation and welfare checks, and conducting much paper work. “I have had to do a lot of clean-up (from the previous administration).”
Another issue raised at last week’s forum dealt with what one government critic referred to as a lack of communications from town hall. “The citizens are asking for a change,” said Gail Gerig, who has closely monitored the actions of the last few administrations. She questioned several responses provided by town officials, even during last week’s meeting.
Also, the issue of a lack of workable street lights was highlighted by long-time resident and former trustee Jennifer Forbes. Bruner stated that this issue is now being investigated with the city of Colorado Springs.
The town also held a public meeting last week regarding its 2018 budget. One key concern hinged on the operations of the summer pool, and whether the town should shut the facility down on a temporary basis.