A metro district serving hundreds of homes 12 miles west of Durango that faced the threat of dissolution in August is now in good standing with the state and expects to save its park, where tennis courts have collapsed.
The state of Colorado threatened to dissolve the Durango West 1 metro district because it had failed to properly file its budgets, audits or election information on time. The lack of documentation led the state to believe it was no longer providing water, sewer and road maintenance services to the more than 250 homes in the neighborhood. A resident raised concerns about the threat of dissolution at the time because residents were not notified about it.
Durango West 1 metro district manager Janet Anderson provided a letter to The Durango Herald from the Department of Local Affairs this month, which stated that the district had shown “substantial compliance” with state rules by filing budgets and election information and it would not be dissolved. The district has also filed audits through 2018, according to the Office of the State Auditor.
Anderson said despite the state’s formal notice of pending dissolution, the district was never in danger.
“DW1 has faced real disasters, and this was not one of them,” she said in an email to the Herald.
The Division of Local Government concluded after receiving budgets and other official documentation: “The district had been providing service but had been ignoring numerous notices of delinquent filings,” said Natriece Bryant, deputy executive director of the Department of Local Affairs. The division did not respond to a question about whether the metro district had faced consequences for its failure to file its documents.
Anderson said the state had the documents, but the papers were not filed electronically through the online portal as required. The district was late filing its audits because it was searching for a cheaper auditor. Delaying the filing to find less expensive financial services saved the metro district $50,000, she said.
Park problems unsolved
While the question of dissolution has been resolved, a solution for the district’s troubled and grant-funded park remains in the works.
The district received $45,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado to build the park that was envisioned to have a pavilion, parking lot, grassy field, tennis and basketball courts, among other amenities. But the park was never finished and the tennis courts collapsed in 2016 about two years after the metro district submitted its final report to GOCO about the park construction.
The metro district now plans a geotechnical survey of the park that will require soil sampling this spring to determine what areas of the park would be best suited for construction, Anderson said. The district receives about $4,000 annually in Conservation Trust Funds that it can spend on the park, and it will transfer funds from its general operation budget for the park, Anderson said.
“We will do everything we can to save and rebuild what we have because that would be the most efficient,” she said.
The metro district faced questions from a resident last summer about the park that stood largely untouched after a shift in the soil caused the tennis courts to collapse. Attempts to save the courts with retaining walls failed, Anderson said.
The district expects the geotechnical survey will help ensure any additional park construction happens on stable soil, Anderson said.
When the district knows what the recommended options are for “repairing or resizing, or rebuilding” the park, it will hold a meeting with the neighborhood and put out a questionnaire to see what the public supports, she said.
Because the metro district received funding from GOCO for the park, the district is contractually obligated to maintain the space in a safe and reasonable condition for 25 years. The agency can ask for its grant funding back if the park isn’t fixed, said Jackie Miller, GOCO’s director of programs.
GOCO representatives plan to visit the park in March to discuss the plans, Miller said.
“We need to see progress when we have our next conversation,” she said. Typically, GOCO’s relationships with grantees is not combative, she said.
In Miller’s 13 years with the agency, one dog park in the state wasn’t developed to the terms of the grant, she said.
“The grantee owned that and returned the grant funding,” she said.
Durango West resident Anthony Bonanno expressed concern about the park over the summer because he had not received clear answers about whether the courts could be repaired and whether the park would be finished. He said he is hopeful he and other residents can work with Anderson on a solution after corresponding with her via email.
“The members of our neighborhood would like to see a facility that would bring value to our neighborhood,” he said.