Not ‘Condemned’: Fraught Grandstands Meeting in Ridgway
by Leslie Vreeland
Jul 05, 2013 | 1818 views | 0 0 comments | 81 81 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RIDGWAY – The Ouray Board of County Commissioners held a special meeting on June 27, and  on the agenda was a discussion of the recently-condemned grandstands at the County Fairgrounds.

Except the grandstands were never officially condemned, a fact that Commissioner Lynn Padgett, who attended via speakerphone, took pains to point out. “It is very awkward to be using grandstands that are ‘condemned,’” she said. “We don’t want our insurers,” or the public, “thinking we’re using condemned grandstands.” Padgett suggested replacing the County’s most-recent resolution regarding the grandstands with one that reflects, not condemnation, but “an updated status.”

The county’s insurer, Colorado Technical Services, Inc., and its engineering firms had advised that the grandstands were deteriorating to such an extent that they could no longer be used without extensive repair. The failing roof had been removed, and the grandstands fenced off from the public.

At the meeting, County Administrator Connie Hunt presented two options: remove the grandstands completely and rebuild from scratch, or try to repair them. The Ouray County Rodeo Association, led by Erin Stadelman, presented a third option, by way of their consultant, Noble Heller. The Rodeo Association had paid engineer Brad McMillan to examine the premises, Heller said, and “I think we have a solution. We know the county doesn’t have a lot of money or time,” and “it won’t cost much more than about $6,000 to $7,000 to stabilize the existing structure” so the Ouray County Rodeo might go on in September. “In our view, this is a historical structure,” Heller said, suggesting there was a possibility that the grandstands could be salvageable without a complete tear down. “We could have a solution to both of these problems.”

Heller said he would need seven to 10 days to come up with drawings to show how the grandstands might be repaired. Another option is for the county to apply for a GOCO grant, to fund the replacement of the stands; that application is due late next month. All agreed that whatever happens needs to happen soon.

Not only was the GOCO grant looming, but the possibility of additional funding was also at hand. “We just worked very hard at developing relationships with funders” during the recent Rural Philanthropy Days, Connie Hunt noted. “If we wait, it could make us look wishy-washy.”

It was pointed out that the county had the money to pay for the drawings that Heller would procure. Commissioner Mike Fedel, who said he had some experience in construction, said “I will be a liaison on this job.” The county moved to authorize a total of $15,000 for the completion of reparation drawings, as well as testing that would help engineers determine whether the grandstands might be salvageable, and agreed to meet again on July 8. “I think we should proceed on parallel tracks,” Commissioner Batchelder said, to repair the stands and to pursue the GOCO grant.

Fedel pronounced Heller’s proposal “an elegant solution to a vexing problem” and thanked him.

Stadelman, who later said she “kind of circled the wagons” by inviting members of the Rodeo Association to the meeting – and by hiring an engineer to give an opinion on how the grandstands might be rehabilitated in time for the Labor Day rodeo, because “we will have a rodeo this year” – added, “Our position as a rodeo association is not one of altercation. If you would just involve the Rodeo Association, we would appreciate it.”

She gestured to the window, and the grandstands outside. “We, our children and our families – that’s our heritage. That’s our lifestyle. We need that.”
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