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Higher speed limit raises concerns for pedestrians

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Actions by the Colorado Department of Transportation have raised concerns about pedestrian safety in the Town of Hotchkiss.

At the Sept. 14 town council meeting, public works director Mike Owens reported that pedestrian crossing signs at several Bridge Street intersections were removed because CDOT officials felt there was too much sign "noise" on the street. In addition, CDOT raised speed limits from 25 mph to 35 mph on Highways 92 and 133 on the edges of town. While these stretches of highway are outside town limits, they're close to pedestrian traffic, including kids crossing from the mobile home park to school, and hotel guests headed out for breakfast across the highway.

Marshal Dan Miller is already blaming one accident on the higher speed limits. Folks slowing down to turn into driveways or business parking lots narrowly avoid being rear-ended.

It was agreed a strongly worded letter would be signed by the mayor and sent to CDOT, urging the state agency to rethink the speed limits.

A discussion about the street light at 2nd Street and the railroad tracks was expanded to include the street light at 2nd and Orchard at the request of Matt Kottenstette, who said the street light is shining into the bedroom of his home. In August, he presented several options for council's consideration. Owens said he discussed the matter with Phil Zimmer from DMEA, who reportedly had doubts any of those options would work. Kottenstette urged council to at least consider the easiest, less expensive options.

After discussion, Mayor Wendell Koontz suggested public works focus on the streetlight at 2nd and Orchard. "I know we're on a slippery slope," he said, referring to council fears the issue could start a chain reaction, but he pointed out Kottenstette came to council with a petition signed by his neighbors. It's not a matter of a single complaint, but of several citizens asking for the town's help.

In other business, Nancy Hovde requested a $1,000 donation for HopeWest. She explained eight Hotchkiss residents have received hospice care and two adults participated in bereavement counseling provided by the nonprofit organization. Town clerk Marlene Searle said $1,941 is left in the 2017 budget for donations. The town expects to receive requests for the North Fork Children's Christmas Party, community holiday dinners and the Center for Mental Health. While HopeWest provides a valuable service, trustees agreed $1,000 would be "a reach." A motion to donate $500 was defeated 2-3, but the council ultimately agreed on $350. Hovde expressed appreciation for any amount.

Todd and Katherine Sabatke, owners of Tri-R Liquors, received approval for a 200-square-foot addition to be used as a receiving area and for additional storage.

A loan agreement was signed for the Barrow Mesa water storage tank. The agreement with Colorado Water Resource and Power Development Authority does not have to be repaid, but is not termed a "grant."

During department reports, town engineer Joanne Fagan provided an update on a town sewer project and Marshal Miller said the police department has been overwhelmed with felony investigations/filings. "We're trying to keep our heads above water," he said.

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North Fork
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CDOT, Hotchkiss
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