Back row, from left Shelby Hallmark (partially hidden), Raul Turrieta, Deb Preusch (partially hidden), Michelle Giese, holding proclamation, and Mayor Mike Morones. Three unidentified members of the Grant County Trails Group, front row from left, hold the banner.
Article and Photo by Charlie McKee
In the New Business portion of the Tuesday, Mar. 25, Silver City Town Council meeting, the Town Council approved Resolution No. 2014-14, which supports the designation of the Town of Silver City as a Gateway Community to the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) System. (See the Beat's article: New Mayor and Council Hear about "Warrior Hikers" and Silver City's Gateway Opportunity.)
This designation results in Silver City's becoming the first "Gateway Community" on the CDT, which stretches 3,100 miles from this southwest corner of New Mexico to the Canadian border in Montana. Shelby Hallmark, spokesperson for the group that formulated the Gateway concept, worked in concert with the CDT Coalition to develop the application and proposed the resolution, stated that it is an historic moment for Silver City to grasp this opportunity, making its mark as a leader in supporting hikers and nature lovers of all varieties to honor, protect and promote this national treasure that winds its way through Grant County.
The Gateway Community designation emulates the gateway communities of the Appalachian Trail, which have been established along the entire length of that trail system. Silver City's Gateway Community status serendipitously coincides with the start of the 2014 CDT Warrior Hike to be celebrated in Silver City on Apr. 23, 2014. Six combat veterans will be in Silver City as they embark on their hike of the trail to its end at Waterton Park, Montana, on Sep. 27, 2014. Hallmark reported that the Warrior Hike Celebration effort has brought together almost every organization in town in collaboration to support these combat veterans.
Hallmark also emphasized that the organizing group and the effort to enhance Silver City's role as the first CDT Gateway Community will not end after the Warrior Hike celebration. He noted that there is much work to be done to provide accommodation and services for "through hikers" on the CDT trail and specifically to link access to the CDT with Silver City's own municipal trail system (including the Silver City Greenways and Big Ditch Master Plan) and the Gila National Forest.
Mayor Mike Morones noted that the CDT Gateway Community status "ties into our history and our culture of embracing the forest and trails of our area, uniting old and young alike, and gaining national recognition for what we do well."
Prior to the approval of the Gateway Community resolution and the remainder of New Business, the Mayor and Council heard Public Input and Reports and conducted a Public Hearing.
In concert with the CDT Gateway resolution, Morones proclaimed April 2014 as "Grant County Trails Month."
During the Public Input portion of the meeting, citizen Ted Presler expressed concern over the inadequate parking facilities in the Town of Silver City. He noted that the restoration of the Silco Theater in the historic downtown would offer 100 seats to event attendees, but no safe and lighted parking. Presler also questioned what would happen when the Hudson Street bridge impacts traffic flow into the Town. He suggested that a map of safe and well lighted parking areas be made available to residents and visitors and that new ideas (such as church parking lots) be considered to supplement the Town's limited street parking spaces.
During the Reports section of the meeting, the following reports were presented to the Mayor and Council:
• Mimbres Film, LLC – The managing partners of Mimbres Film, Mike Barragree and Glenn Tolhurst, informed the Mayor and Council that their organization is partnering with the New Mexico Film Office as scouts and agents to have the southwestern four-county region of New Mexico recognized as a prime location for filming. Their purpose is to promote the natural environment, as well as the local resources to support filming efforts, to filmmakers. Mimbres Film asked the Mayor and Council for an official letter of designation from the Town of Silver City to act on its behalf to filmmakers. They emphasized that they are not requesting funding of any kind, as the company wishes to remain neutral in its representation of the area.
• "Love is Respect" Presentation – Ted Presler of the Western Institute of Lifelong Learning (WILL) outlined a program to be presented to the community about domestic violence on Mar. 26 at 6:00 pm in the WNMU Miller Library. He urged that "no matter what, we need to break the silence" about domestic violence in our community.
• Town Report: Community Development Department – Peter Russell, Community Development director, presented the first of the Town's departmental reports to inform the new Mayor and Council of the Town's organizational structure and departmental responsibilities. Russell outlined the functions and capabilities of the Community Development Department, including its sophisticated GIS mapping technology, which is able to merge images and data in support of cross-departmental projects. He reported that the functions of the department include: planning and zoning, code enforcement, building inspections, grants for affordable housing, energy conservation programs, and regional coordination efforts for the local water system and resource sustainability.
• Town Report: Finance Department – Anita Norero, Deputy Finance Director, presented the Finance departmental report explaining the functions and responsibilities of her organization. The Finance Department includes meter reading and maintenance; utility billing and business registration; oversight of requests for proposals, purchase orders, and grant administration, including payments related thereto; payroll and benefit administration for 1,600 town employees; management of the $27 million Town budget and expenditures; fiscal end-of-period reconciliations; and fiscal reporting to auditors and the State of New Mexico.
• Town Report: Town Clerk – Ann Mackie, Town Clerk, reported that the required certified documents had been submitted to the State of New Mexico stating that the Town's voters had approved the Public Safety Tax in the Mar. 4, 2014, municipal election. She also informed the Mayor and Council of vacancies on the following committees and boards: Extra Territorial Subdivision Commission, Incentive Review Committee, Cemetery Board, Museum Board, Recycling Committee, and Planning and Zoning Commission.
A Public Hearing was then conducted regarding approval or disapproval of Resolution No. 2014-13 to vacate part of the Chloride Street right-of-way, requested by Western New Mexico University (WNMU). The applicant, WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard, testified that the acquisition of the vacated property would be contingent upon the University's purchase of adjacent property and that the vacated right-of-way would revert to the Town if the adjacent purchase were not completed. In addition, he testified that the University would be responsible for installation of a master water meter for the entire property, as well as its ongoing maintenance, if the vacation and purchase transactions proceeded to completion. The Council then approved the resolution.
In addition to the approval of the CDT Gateway Community resolution, the Council approved the following items during the New Business portion of the meeting:
• Two Celebration Permits for the Silver City Tour of the Gila Bicycle Race Beer and Spirit Garden on May 3, 2014, at 703 N. Bullard Street.
• One Celebration Permit for the Archaeological Society of New Mexico's Annual Meeting on Apr. 11 and 12, 2014, at the Murray Hotel, 200 N. Broadway, contingent upon obtaining waiver letter(s) of approval from any churches or schools within 300 feet of the celebration and the one-time conditional certificate of occupancy of the ballroom of the Murray Hotel.
• Request for public input on the EPA Brownfields Grant award for cleanup of the Waterworks Building. The grant award for $200,000 is for cleanup of the following in the historic building:
• Lead-based paint
• Bat guano
• Tile/mastic with asbestos
Nancy Gordon, who has spearheaded the preservation of the Waterworks building for the past four years, presented the following alternative approaches for effecting the cleanup and requested public input regarding which approach should be taken:
• No Action - $0
• "Mothball" the Site - $10,000
• Demolition of the Site - $5,000, plus demolition cost
• Renovation (encapsulation and cover-up of toxic materials) - $105,000*
• Abatement - $190,000*
• Meet Standards - $149,000*
*The latter three options would require an additional $51,000 for an environmental engineer.
Details of these alternatives and public input information can be found on the Town website at: http://townofsilvercity.org/r/town_of_silver_city_NM.php?r=28,mkbr9
• Mayor's appointment of Nicolas Seibel to the Planning and Zoning Commission
The meeting was then adjourned.