Council names new sports complex: Yamaguchi Park

A brief prelude to a marathon sanitation district meeting, the Monday night meeting of the Pagosa Springs Town Council went fast and without much discussion regarding matters of geothermal regulations and rates, the potential waiver of impact fees and the naming of the new sports complex.

After a touching appeal by Mayor Ross Aragon, recalling the contributions and military valor of the Yamaguchi family, council voted unanimously (by secret ballot) to name the new sports complex “Yamaguchi Park.”

According to Parks and Recreation Director Tom Carosello, a formal dedication will take place later this month with the town installing a plaque honoring the accomplishments and contributions of the Yamaguchi family to the Pagosa area.

A second reading of an ordinance establishing regulations for the town’s geothermal heating system was passed unanimously, placing formal regulations on that system for the first time. By the same token, council passed a resolution establishing a rate structure for the geothermal heating system. The rates remain at 30-percent discount from market natural gas heating prices (a $.60 per therm rate for the town’s geothermal heating) and a 90-percent savings on gas prices for so-called raw geothermal water (i.e. effluent water).

The geothermal regulations can be found on the town’s Web site at www.townofpagosasprings.com/ and are included in the documents section found on the left side of the site’s main page.

Hearing various department head reports, council learned from the Town Tourism Committee that, not only were lodging taxes up 6.2-percent for April compared to the same month last year, but that visitor center fulfillment requests were up in May — 782 requests this year, up from 183 requests for May 2008 — hopefully portending a busy summer tourist season. Council also heard that the new Town Park pedestrian bridge will be open this weekend and, according to lead contractor Bob Hart, only landscaping near the bridge remains unfinished.

In an item not noted in the action items listed on the agenda, council member Mark Weiler made a motion, based on a recommendation in the town manager’s report, to waive a $300 variance fee for a local business seeking to make an addition to the existing commercial structure.

Council member Don Volger asked, “If we do it, should we waive it for everyone proposing to do this kind of thing?”

“My feeling is that we need to have a broader discussion as far as waiving these fees,” said council member Jerry Jackson.

However, council member Shari Pierce stood opposed to waiving fees, saying, “I have a problem with that. We’re already asking staff to take two days without pay and then we cut the fees that pay employee salaries? I’m opposed.”

The motion passed, with council members Stan Holt and Pierce voting against the motion.

Council meets again Thursday, June 18 at noon in council chambers at Town Hall.

jim@pagosasun.com