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Trustees move ahead on Surls roundabout proposal

By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

What’ll it be for the center of the new roundabout at Highway 133 and Main Street?

A specially commissioned piece from Missouri Heights sculptor James Surls?

How about a rotating work of art as part of the town’s on-going Art aRound Town series?

Then there’s always the minimalist approach — nothing but concrete.

Those are the three ideas included in a recent memo from staff to the Carbondale Board of Trustees. At Tuesday night’s meeting, the trustees made no commitments but voted to move forward on the Surls concept and also request the Carbondale Public Arts Commission coordinate community outreach on the project.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will start its Highway 133 widening project next April and the most visible component will be a roundabout at the intersection of Main Street.

“If we leave the determination to CDOT, the center of the roundabout would most likely be concrete,” said town manager Jay Harrington in his memo. He later pointed to the town’s commitment to art — including Art aRound town, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities and galleries around town — and said “The staff’s position is that the roundabout should, at some level, include art as a center piece.”

There are some drawbacks with placing in the roundabout a piece from the Art aRound Town series, which invites sculptures to put their work at numerous locations on a 12-18 month basis. For one thing, Harrington’s memo said, any piece of sculpture will require a foundation that must be designed for the characteristics of a specific piece. “Changing the art every year may require the removal and installation of different foundations and … lighting. The center of a two lane roundabout would be a difficult area to remove and install on an annual basis.”

With the nothing-but-concrete option receiving little if any support, the trustees focused on the Surls idea on Tuesday night. Private donations would fund the sculpture; local philanthropist Jim Calaway has said he will spearhead the drive.

The estimated cost for landscaping the roundabout, and the sculpture foundation, is $15,000-$20,000.

“The landscaping can be anything from drought tolerant native plants … to significant flower beds and vegetation,” Harrington said. He also pointed out that the trustees must consider landscape maintenance requirements on Highway 133 and the roundabout, and “ … Our current staffing levels are not sufficient to maintain what we currently have. The additional landscaping (along Highway 133) … would require increased seasonal/temporary staffing in 2015.”

In other news from Tuesday night’s trustees meeting:

•  The trustees voted to move ahead with putting a question on the Nov. 5 ballot, asking residents to approve a 5 percent sales tax on marijuana sold in licensed establishments. Towns and counties have the option of allowing or prohibiting the sale of small amounts of marijuana after Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 last year. The Carbondale trustees have said they favor allowing licensed marijuana sales, and are moving forward with drafting ordinances to regulate the trade. The 5 percent sales tax would go toward policing marijuana outlets.

• The trustees voted 6-0 to give town manager Jay Harrington another two-year contract, with a raise to $120,000 per year.

• Trustees said they will consider lowering the allowed decibel level at Sopris Park and other venues from the current 100 to 75, following complaints prompted by the CCAH concert on Sunday night.

• The trustees instructed staff to return with a recommendation on how to handle the rodent problem at the White Hill cemetery.