Puckett rides across the Whipple Bridge

Buena Vista Trustee Phil Puckett rides across the Whipple Bridge Monday. BLM says the bridge is one of its mostly heavily traversed properties in the state.

Throughout 2021, the town of Buena Vista is going to be “busy as usual” with capital improvement projects, said town administrator Phillip Puckett.

Moving into year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, Puckett said that town’s spending policy won’t be much different from what it’s been in the past four years: “Being structurally balanced and utilizing those annual revenue increases to do more, but not overspending.

“We’re not backing away from doing capital projects. We did project a 3% revenue growth this year, so we do anticipate the trend to continue, but not as much as we would have projected, I think, if we didn’t have the pandemic going on. I think we’re trying to be as realistic and conservative as possible when it comes to projecting growth,” Puckett said. “But we are proceeding forward with spending money on capital projects that need to be done.We’re not holding back from that. At the same time, we’re not dipping into our fund balance at this point, either. Not sitting back and doing nothing out of fear, but also not overextending ourselves, so we can react if, for whatever reason, our revenues do start to decline.”

Here’s some of what’s on the docket for 2021:

Infiltration Gallery Expansion: One of the town’s most valuable sources of water is naturally filtered by a large meadow fed by Cottonwood Creek. This expansion aims to increase the efficiency of how water is extracted from the meadow.

Since 1998, the main system through which Buena Vista gets water from Cottonwood Creek looks on the surface like a large, green, empty wetland field. This is the infiltration gallery.

The gallery, irrigated by Cottonwood Creek, uses gravity and the ground itself to filter water, which is collected by matrix of underground pipes that pull it to the town’s water treatment facility for further purification.

“We are wrapping up the data collection,” Puckett said. “Now we are selecting the engineer who will essentially take that data plus what we’ve already done in some of the analysis of the gallery system to put together a design plan.

“2021 will be a focus on the engineering and design phase to go forward with our grant and loan financing to attempt to get started in 2022.”

Well #4: Like Well #3 located at the river park, this well will bring both potable water and non-potable water to BV’s water system. This well will be located near the Farm subdivision.

The town is “planning to proceed with a design and and possible start of construction” on the well, Puckett said.

Update to water resource master plan: Encompassing the infiltration gallery expansion, Well #4 and many more water project, this would make an update to a plan last set in 2014.

“We’ve accomplished quite a few of the things that had been laid out in that plan, so this one will pick up on where we’re sitting right now with the infiltration gallery project, Well #4 and we’ll start to put in other things that the town will need to plan for,” Puckett said.

The plan will also look at the town’s portfolio of water rights.

“We want to integrate what we’ve done as a staff in terms of our water accounting and how we’ve tied that to our development process and our code,” Puckett said.

The town will continue its pursuit of something of a white whale: The Arizona Street to Marquette pedestrian trail and bridge.

“FEMA is finishing up their review of the floodplain portion of it, impacts to the floodplain, so we’re hoping by the spring to go out to bid for that, knock on wood,” Puckett said.

“It has been a good part of 10 years,” he said, that the trail connection between walking paths on Arizona Street and Marquette Avenue, including a bridge crossing Cottonwood Creek, have been planned.

“It has been derailed a few times, primarily due to surrounding private property, the design was entirely changed once, then it was determined that the cost of that change was too high, then the project kind of died; that was about 6 years ago. Then about 3 years ago we revived the project, that’s when we worked with the private property and made the property acquisition to make the design work for the bridge going over the creek.”

Funded by a federal grant secured through through the Colorado Department of Transportation, the project had to be redesigned to meet changing CDOT requirements.

“In 2020, we thought we had our final design, then realized there was a floodplain impact that needed to be approved by FEMA,” Puckett said.

Rodeo centennial: Assuming that this year’s Rodeo is able to take place, it will be the 100th anniversary of the event.

“The rodeo board and the Rec board have some monies in the budget to do some enhancements around there. Ticketbooths, signage, those kinds of things,” Puckett said.

Whipping the Whipple Bridge and trail into shape: Pending a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the town will replace the wooden planks on the well-used Barbara Whipple Bridge and perform some maintinence on the first section of the Whipple Trail, repairing erosion damage and addressing narrow points in the single-track trail.

“We did pass the first phase (of the grant application process), so we’re on to doing interviews with them for the grant. It’s looking pretty promising to have the additional grant funding from that,” Puckett said.

Even if Buena Vista is not awarded the grant, the town will replace the boards on the bridge, but save the trail work for later.

River Park Multigenerational Recreation project: The town will try again this February in applying for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to fund the project.

“The scope will be a little bit different. It will not include the Pickleball portion of the project but it will include the ADA trail loop and the singletrack through that area,” Puckett said.

Baylor and Steele Drive intersections: The town has been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation on enhancements at the intersection of Baylor Drive and U.S Highway 24 where a new traffic light would be installed, as well as a new stretch of road that would extend Steele Drive across U.S. 24 and connect with South Railroad Street.

The New Years’ Eve declaration that a rail company had secured a lease for the Tennessee Pass line will likely impact both of these projects, although how exactly remains to be seen.

Additionally, the town is planning to do maintenance at the Central Colorado Regional Airport, town streets, continuing upgrades around the softball and tennis courts and landscaping and irrigation work around the community center, Puckett said.

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