Alternative sites for the wastewater-treatment plant were outlined in depth for Durango city councilors Tuesday night.
The Utilities Commission had suggested the sites for a while and asked they be reviewed in an open meeting with the council. But the public meeting was rescheduled twice before the commission members met in February with city staff and two city councilors in private.
The commissioner’s voiced their disappointment about not having a public meeting before the City Council to explore all the options for a sewage-treatment plant Monday night.
In response, City Manager Ron LeBlanc and Durango Community Development Department Director Greg Hoch presented an evaluation of the three sites.
“I think the Utilities Commission looked at this assignment from an engineering prospective,” LeBlanc said.
But he said the city staff found major problems with each of the three alternative sites: the south side of Santa Rita Park, Cundiff Park and the riverfront property below the Durango Mall. The staff found issues with location, open-space designation and alternative city plans.
The southern portion of Santa Rita Park is the most popular playground in town and slated for major improvements including a handicap accessible playground, Hoch said. It is also too small for a full-treatment plant.
Cundiff Park was developed with Great Outdoors Colorado funding, and if the property isn’t maintained as a park, the grant money would have to be returned, he said.
The 6.5 acres below the Durango Mall was also dedicated to open space because it is riparian habitat. Gaining road access to this site could be challenging.
Councilor Christina Rinderle previously asked staff members to look into moving the plant further south beyond the High Bridge. But that is also impossible because all the wastewater south of that point is processed by a different sewage plant.
“Nobody wants the sewer plant to stay were it is,” said Councilor Dean Brookie. But he said there may not be an alternative.
Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Wilbur said he was not informed the presentation was going to take place.
But he would have liked to see cost estimates presented for the sites because building a new plant in Cundiff Park could be cheaper than renovating the existing facility.