The town of Hotchkiss has it's eye on high radon levels near the new public works building site.

During the December town meeting, there was plenty of discussion about the high radon levels near the yet to be constructed public works shop building.

“We tested for radon in a couple of vaults up at the tank site, probably within 200 yards of the shop building site because we have no other place to test it up there. And those came back a little high so the discussion is whether or not we want to do radon mitigation in the building even before it’s built,” Mayor Larry Wilkening said.

The town operating off of the 2016 building codes, is not required to mitigate radon before a structure is completed. Radon, a radioactive gas, occurs naturally in the environment and has been linked to lung cancer.

“I think it’s kind of a ‘cart before the horse’ here thing," he said. "Radon gas can vary from one house to the next in a subdivision. I think the fact that we measured in an enclosed vault may have had something to do with the high reading, but on the other hand how can you test for radon without a building being up?”

Wilkening said the fact that they may be anticipating radon isn’t reason enough to begin placing mitigation systems into the new structure. The mayor didn't give any data on what the levels where at the site.

“We should wait. Let’s see what happens when the building is built, it may not have radon there,” he said. “We’re going to have five or six garage doors in this building that will be opened and closed continuously throughout the day isn’t that enough ventilation to get rid of the randon, we don’t know. So, it’s a wait and see situation, putting in mitigation (afterwards) isn’t a real costly thing if we need to do it.”

While Wilkening didn't give any data on what the levels where at the site, the EPA recommends that mitigation for homes be done if test shows 4 picocuries (pCi/L) or more.

In some good news, the town’s water tank venture should be completed by spring time. The project in process for the past two years, only needs to connect the new tank to the existing system, however, the weather has halted progress.

“Leaving exposed pipes, that kind of thing is not a good idea so, we’ll proceed when the weather warms up and get it totally online,” Wilkening said.

In the meantime, the town will tackle their mobile home regulations in the Feb. 13 meeting. Wilkening said the board held a work session on Jan. 23 to finalize the regulations.

“Our mobile home regulations are severely out of date," Wilkening said. "So, we’ve been updating those regulations. Of course at the work session you can’t make any final decisions, just suggestions so, we will look at those one more time and get the final decisions or recommendations to our attorney and have the first reading during our February meeting."

In other town meeting news, discussion continued over placing an electric car charging station in Hotchkiss during the December board meeting.

“That’s been discussed on and off again, mostly by merchants downtown.” Wilkening said, “It would be a council decision if we did that. Personally I would like to see a business do that. We don’t need to be competing with businesses as a town.”

While grant funding is available for electric charging stations, Wilkening said that ongoing maintenance would fall on the town. He said the conversation got started by “the scenic by-way people” who would like to see charging stations along the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway.

“I have to weigh the citizen’s concerns about that as well as the by-way’s concerns,” he said, “and government moves slowly.”

In a year end housekeeping measure, the town appropriated funds to cover overages in the water and garbage funds passing Resolution 2019-04. Wilkening said the town’s trash service raised their rates mid-year. The town’s budget reflected the old rates putting the expenditures for trash over budget.

The board also approved Resolution 2019-02 adopting the 2020 budget; Resolution 2019-03 approving the Mill Levy to be set at 5.5% tax rate; Resolution 2019-04 an Ordinance allowing the town to pay all of the bills coming due in the month of January.

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