During their meeting Tuesday, Montezuma County commissioners discussed plans for the upcoming 2020 census, heard about potential federal funding for the Paths to Mesa Verde trail, and continued negotiations regarding Road 21 and B.
The county and the City of Cortez are preparing for the 2020 Census, recognizing that participation is crucial for the most accurate count.
Updated population numbers from the census are used to formulate federal funding for county services, including health, social services, public housing, senior citizen programs, transportation and education.
This is the first census participants will be able to fill out the questionnaire online.
By Census Day, April 1, 2020, every home will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives in March, residents should respond from home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.
Census workers will also be visiting communities door to door to record residents who have not responded online or by phone.
The county and the city have formed a Census Count Committee to encourage participation, said county planner Doug Roth and Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek. They have a budget for a promotional campaign expected to begin in January. Information booths will be set up in key locations such as public libraries where people who do not have the internet can fill out the census online.
Paths to Mesa Verde fundingThe county is being considered for potentially millions of dollars in federal funding to build the Paths to Mesa Verde trail section from Mancos to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance.
The trail would run along the south side of U.S. 160 within the highway easement, and planning documents have been drawn up. The ultimate goal is to have it connect to Cortez.
The county applied for a $10 million Federal Lands Access Grant this summer. Grant officials have informed the county that the 8-mile Mancos to Mesa Verde portion project is being considered for funding. The Central Federal Highway Department will conduct a site visit this month with county officials to review the project engineering and its costs. A decision on the grant funding is expected later this year.
Better breakwaterMontezuma County wants to double the size of the breakwater at the McPhee Marina from 400 feet to 800 feet to create more calm water at the marina.
Instead of adding more tires, county planners want to install a molded-drum baffle style breakwater made by Wave Eater. The system is used at Lake Nighthorse west of Durango.
The San Juan National Forest, which manages McPhee Reservoir recreation, is requiring an engineer’s approval on combining the current tire breakwater design with the proposed new section. Costs for the breakwater expansion have not yet been determined.
Road 21 issue The county is continuing negotiations with Colorado Department of Transportation on a proposal to close the intersection of County Road 21 and U.S. Highway 491.
CDOT suggests closing the dangerous intersection and wants to direct traffic accessing and exiting the highway from nearby Road B instead.
As part of a potential deal, CDOT indicated it would consider paying for the asphalt to pave Road B between the highway and Road 21, said county administrator Shak Powers.
But it is not clear whether the CDOT funding will be available for the asphalt, expected to cost $300,000, he said.
Residents are urging safer egress and ingress to the neighborhood from the highway, and want improvements that accommodates farming equipment and large semitrailers hauling cattle and hay. The county commissioners continue to study the issue, and no decisions have been made on whether to close the intersection.