It was in with the new guard and out with the old regime during the inaugural meeting of the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees last week, the first official political gathering since the 2016 municipal vote.
But despite a rather contested election, the changing of the leadership seats occurred relatively smoothly and without any verbal blows, unlike two years ago. In fact, no walkouts occurred of former leaders with a reception attended by both competing power factions in GMF. However, the time for post-election celebrations may be short-lived as the new cadre of leaders will face a bevy of concerns.
Outgoing Mayor Lorrie Worthey made a few outgoing comments and presented an emergency response plan for the area, which the trustees enthusiastically supported. She lauded the work of her fellow trustees and the city staff.
Following the swearing-in of new Mayor Jane Newberry and three trustees, including incumbent member Tyler Stevens and new trustees Cameron Thorne and David Pearlman, the board quickly got down to business. Thorne, who received the most of any trustee candidates during the election, was appointed as the new mayor pro tem.
The mayor asked that the trustees consider what departments and GMF government service areas they want to oversee, and for the important issue of liaison positions to be addressed at the next meeting in early May. Newberry asked the trustees to think about what assignments they wanted to take on, prior to making any firm decisions.
In addition, the town heard from a representative from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department, who assured town leaders and residents that the community would receive complete coverage from El Paso County. This promise follows the resignation of the town’s entire police force, including Marshal Tim Bradley.
El Paso County representatives, though, have stated that the town would be taken care of, but cautioned that the sheriff’s department can’t enforce local ordinances. Still, they say Green Mountain Falls has a relatively low crime level, According to a fact sheet submitted at last week’s meeting Green Mountain Falls only had 33 calls for service in 2014, a small minute percentage of the total calls in the region, encompassing the western part of El Paso County.
This fact sheet prompted a slight sarcastic comment by former trustee Howard Price, a big supporter of the new mayor, who jokingly referred to GMF as a mega crime capital.
Plenty of Public Concerns
But jokes aside, plenty of questions still remain for the new board, who got confronted with a barrage of public comments last week. These concerns stem from the death of the town’s favorite goose mascot, to rehiring a new marshal as soon as possible, to dissolving the town government and de-incorporating and to assuring that Woodland Park remains a good neighbor and mitigates the Fountain Creek runoff situation properly.
For the most part, town leaders didn’t have too many answers, as the mostly addressed a few pending financial matters.
Ann Pinell, regarded as the “Goose Lady,” once again recounted the tragic sage surrounding the death of Roy, who drowned in the lake following an assault by two loose dogs.
Pinell urged the board to tighten up its leash laws for animals in the park. She said many people regard the Gazebo as a dog park. Besides the unfortunate death of Roy, Pinell cited an array of similar incidents, involving dugs chasing geese and even jumping in the lake..
“It is not the animals’ fault,” said Pinell. “The owners need to be held responsible.”
In a related manner, former mayor Dick Bratton requested that the board, including the new members, hold firm to their campaign promises and hire a new marshal and revitalize the police department as soon as possible. He said the new trustees and mayor, part of a group that call themselves “Smoother Roads Ahead for GMF,” campaigned on the premise of keeping a marshal’s office intact. And now is the time to put those words into action, noted Bratton. “We have a whole bunch of ordinances that need to enforced,” said Bratton.
And even with the death of the town’s favorite mascot due to irresponsible dog owners, he said the sheriff’s office would be unable to crack down on similar offenses at the lake.
Former trustee Mac Pitrone, meanwhile, urged the board to take a more pro-active stand in monitoring the Fountain Creek runoff and drainage situation that originates in Woodland Park and gushes down the lower Ute Pass into Manitou Springs. With the success of the Trail Ridge apartment development and the prospects of new housing projects in Woodland, Pitrone urged the board to appoint one member to monitor this potential problem area, which local leaders believe has escalated in the last few years.. “Make sure they mitigate this runoff water,” said Pitrone.
And lastly, another local resident made another pitch for the possibility of dissolving the town as a municipality and having all services handled by El Paso County. “We don’t need the oppression of the town,” said the resident “I am tired of being suppressed.” The resident mentioned a number of problems she had with the marshal’s office.
This idea has been mulled before, mostly when residents were unhappy with certain services. But past de-incorporation efforts ran into significant financial hurdles.