Goose-Gate Ready to Quack Again in Green Mountain Falls – Rick Langenberg

The goose-gate controversy in Green Mountain Falls just won’t fly away, despite recent actions taken by the head elected leaders.

The local parks committee, which has examined rules pertaining to the age-old tradition of feeding waterfowl in the Gazebo lake area, wants a further review of restrictions adopted by the GMF Board of Trustees.

By a unanimous decision, the trustees recently agreed to only permit children to feed the ducks and geese that congregate near the lake on an occasional basis. This occurred following a split verdict and impasse by the trustees last month. The board was equally divided over whether the town should permit a more open-ended policy and endorse the practice and change its current anti-goose feeding ordinance, or just make slight adjustments and continue to outlaw the popular tradition.

The town currently has a law on its books that outlaws feeding any wildlife, including waterfowl. The trustees, while not voting to change this law, agreed to amend its park rules to permit children to feed the waterfowl occasionally.

But at last week’s regular meeting, former mayor Dick Bratton, a spokesman for the parks committee, questioned the recent ambiguous stand. He stressed that the parks committee believes that people of all ages should be permitted to feed the geese and ducks. Bratton noted that this issue has been reviewed extensively by the parks committee and that it has consistently endorsed action to permit the unrestricted feeding of geese and ducks by visitors and locals of all ages. At the same time, the committee has adopted a high profile public education campaign that advise tourists of the proper food and amounts that should be handed out.

“It is too restrictive,” said Bratton, in discussing the board’s stand. “What does ‘occasionally’ mean?”

The park committee spokesman, who is also leading the current effort to dredge the lake, stated that this policy is completely unenforceable. Bratton requested that the waterfowl policy get reviewed again at the next trustees meeting.

He isn’t alone in his criticism, as many locals have questioned the restrictions, citing a pro-tourist tradition that has occurred for decades. Plus, long-time resident Ann Pinell, who has been the caretaker for a domestic duck considered a mini-mascot for the town, maintains that waterfowl aren’t classified as wildlife by state parks and wildlife officials. Town leaders, though, say this is a local law and argue that waterfowl are considered wildlife in the eyes of GMF authorities.

But with winter approaching, the goose quagmire has taken a back seat. And with a dryer summer and fall, the town didn’t feature as many wandering geese and ducks on the main road, or even in the Gazebo in 2015, as they did in the previous year.

In making their recent policy, Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Stevens and Trustee Dave Cook argued that they didn’t want to see the duck and goose-feeding become a predominant activity at the lake. They objected to a free-for-all feeding frenzy. “It is excessive. It is not acceptable,” said Stevens.

However, Cook admitted that enforcement against delinquent geese-feeders isn’t going to be a big focus of the town government. “We are not going to put up video cameras,” he concluded.

Residents Raise Concerns about Spending and Budget Issues
Once again, the financial state of Green Mountain Falls’ fiscal affairs continues to raise a few eyebrows.

During public comments at last week’s meeting, former veteran trustee Mac Pitrone, a staunch critic of the current administration, raised allegations about checks being released without sufficient funds. Pitrone and a handful of residents who attend regular meetings have argued that the town is exceeding its financial limitations. “It is completely unacceptable,” said Pitrone, in regards to the financial policies of the new board.

Besides questioning the town’s check-writing policies, Pitrone questioned certain government expenses for meals and conferences.

In an unrelated issue, Cameron Thorne, another board critic, raised concerns about projected ticket-related revenue for 2016 that is expected to exceed $50,000 for next year. He noted that this amounts to 10 percent of the town’s proposed budget for next year and is extremely excessive for GMF. Fine-related revenue has been a touch subject in the Ute Pass community.

Thorne suggested that the town may be trying to regain its former status as a speed trap with this figure. Several years ago, the town set a several month record for speeding tickets, when Police Chief Tim Bradley came on board. This was done at the direction of town leaders, who eventually decided to back away from this more aggressive crackdown against speeders along Ute Pass Avenue. The town police force currently heavily monitors traffic activity in the main part of town, but it has given out a lot more warnings than actual tickets.

The trustees didn’t respond to the check-writing allegations. But as for the ticket revenue concerns, attorney Matt Krob defended this number and maintained that this figure is on par with other small tourist communities that his firm represents.

In other action, the board finalized action on new policies and procedures that further reaffirmed its stand to retain the trustee liaison system and to give the board members more authority over city operations. It further squashed actions by the previous administration to adopt a town manager type of government.