The April Dolores Town Board election will be competitive, and includes 12 candidates for four board seats and two candidates for the mayor position.
The names will be released when the submitted nomination packets are verified, town officials said. The deadline to submit a candidate packet was Monday.
“It is the most interest we’ve seen in a while,” Mayor Santiago Lopez said during the board workshop on Monday.
Also, six candidates have submitted applications for the open town manager position. The deadline to turn in an application is Friday, Jan. 26.
To narrow the field to three or four finalists, the board scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 30, to be held in executive session under the personnel category. Board members will review applications and determine which ones will move on to formal interviews.
According to Colorado Open Records Law, once the finalists for a city manager position are chosen, the names must be made public, and no appointment may be made less than 14 days after the finalists are named.
Also at the workshop, the new parks advisory committee met with the board to get guidance. The group will research playground designs and look for sources of fundraising, then report back to the board.
The parks committee set regular meeting times for the second Wednesday of every month, at 6 p.m. at the Dolores Community Center. Grant professional Chris Burkett will give a presentation on funding options at the first meeting on Feb. 14.
The meetings are open to the public, and regular reports will be made at the regular town board workshop held every fourth Monday at 6:30 p.m.
The committee was formed after the playground was closed for safety reasons then removed. The town is planning to replace it with one that requires less maintenance.
Board members noted that the controversial playground issue has divided the community, but they said they hoped they could come together toward building a new one.
Two citizen groups have also formed to support a new playground project: The Dolores Playground Group, and Dreams Do Come True.
A vision needs to be developed with the community on what type of playground the community wants, said parks committee member Nikki Gillespie.
The committee will also be addressing other park needs for Dolores, but “right now, the priority is a new playground,” added town board and committee member Tracy Murphy. “We need a specific plan before we apply for any grants.”
Initial ideas are to build a distinctive playground with a natural look that uses more durable materials than wood. Making it inclusive for children with disabilities and wheelchairs was also suggested. A planning grant could be sought to develop conceptual drawings, and community meetings will be part of the process.
To improve communication with the public, the town has begun posting more information on its website, including documents, meeting agendas and minutes.
Members of the town board and parks committee said they learned a lot during the playground crisis, and plan to strive toward a replacement the town can be proud of.
The hope is that the new parks committee will “help bridge the gap” that has divided the town, Lopez said.
Added parks committee member Mike Riley:
“The problems in the past, they are the past, now we’re moving forward with a positive outlook.”