Public Access to Valco Pond by this Summer?


Eastern Pond at Valco Site

Eastern Pond at Valco Site

The Lamar City Council discussed opening a portion of Valco Ponds to the public this summer.  City Administrator, John Sutherland suggested renaming the site North Gateway Park during the council’s Monday meeting, June 24.  Last week he discussed the status of the 108 donated acres with the Prowers County Commissioners regarding vegetation and upkeep of the land.  Until the city annexes the land into the city limits, the county will exercise a 1041 state statute that grants environmental control to the county, but the city will be responsible for reseeding the land.  Sutherland said the State Department of Parks and Wildlife has recommended temporarily fencing off the first pond from the second and third ponds and allowing public access to the area of the first pond this summer.  A fence will be built to prevent public access to the sand and gravel factory at the site as well.  Sutherland added that CP&W representative, Travis Black, has discussed a first year, substitute water supply which will be equally shared between the city and that state agency.   He noted that the property will also be classified as an Enterprise Zone which allows for tax credits for any donations made to the improvement of the land. 

The council approved the yearly contract with the State of Colorado for the Operation of the Lamar Welcome Center which this year will cost $54,696 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  The payment includes salaries, operations, travel and some volunteer costs.  The council also approved the annual agreement for Judy Douglass as the center’s manager and for Daniel Neuhold for custodial services. 

Josh Cichocki, Lamar Water/Wastewater Director, related how a potential disaster was averted by quick action from citizens, the Public Works Department and Carrigan Excavating during the tail end of the last rain storm.  A sinkhole was developing under the streets at 7th and Washington in Lamar from damage to a stormwater main.  Cichocki said a citizen noticed the dip in the asphalt and called in the problem.  The sinkhole and asphalt collapsed into the street, at about 10 feet across and 13 feet deep.  Carrigan Excavating was called to help with repairs, filling in the hole while city crews worked to repair the damage to the main trunk line and improve the drainage situation.  He offered thanks to everyone involved in the operation, citing their quick response in making sure there were no injuries that could have resulted from the problem.

An Intergovernmental Agreement or IGA with Lamar Community College was approved, pending final approval of the city attorney.  Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Rec Director told the council the original three-year agreement expires on June 30.  The new agreement will be for one year for $14,000 and is basically an extension of the original contract with some alterations of wording from years past.   The IGA grants the exclusive use of the indoor batting cage to the college and the college continues to use the ballpark facility and maintains the ballpark complex through the year. 

The city is in line to receive a $90,000 grant for playground equipment for North Side Park from a national philanthropic organization called KaBOOM.  Sutherland said the grant involves a lot of community buy-in and volunteerism, especially for constructing the site, usually a one day effort when the property is prepared for the construction ahead of time.  No specific timetable was mentioned for the project, pending additional discussion between the council and the funders.   Interest in completing construction and building new hangars at the airport was briefly discussed.  Mayor Roger Stagner explained that private parties have shown interest in financing construction of two hangars and paying rent for their use, perhaps for a 20 to 30 year agreement.  The financiers would abide by current by-laws for hangar use and operation. 

Calendar items noted by the council included the 7am Wednesday, July 3 City Council breakfast at the Hickory House Restaurant on North Main Street.  Those breakfasts are open to the public.  Bike to Work Day will be observed at the Lamar Community Building on June 26 from 7am to 8am.  A free breakfast and tee shirts will be given to all bike riders.  City offices will be closed for Thursday, July 4. 

The council moved into executive session to discuss strategies for negotiations with ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEntertainmentEnvironmentFeaturedLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyRecreationTourism


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