RIDGWAY BRIEFS | Town Awards ‘Lake O’ Project to North Fork Company
by Samantha Wright
Feb 19, 2014 | 1424 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print

RIDGWAY - The Ridgway Town Council voted unanimously last week to award the town’s pending “Lake O” project to Hotchkiss-based general contractor Rundle Construction, “pending positive affirmation of references.”

Rundle submitted the lowest of five bids to construct the Lake Otonowanda Rehabilitation Project, the aim of which is to dramatically expand the reservoir’s capacity.

Located in Ouray County, about three miles south of Ridgway off of County Road 5, Lake O has been the Town of Ridgway’s primary municipal water source for nearly 100 years. The man-made lake is filled with water diverted into a natural basin via the Ridgway Ditch.

The Lake Otonowanda Rehabilitation Project will allow the town to exercise its full decreed storage right there by improving the lake’s capacity sixfold, from 100 to 600 acre feet, while restoring historic tunnel outlet works, which collapsed decades ago, to allow water to flow from the lake to town without having to be pumped.

The project is split into two phases, addressing tunnel restoration and lake excavation. Town officials had hoped to get started on the tunnel restoration phase last fall, but received only one response to a Request for Proposals issued in September 2013.

Hoping to attract more bidders, council and town staff agreed to broaden the scope of the contract to encompass both the tunnel restoration phase and lake excavation phase in a single package, and put the project out to bid in January.

This time around, there was a healthy response from contractors, with Town Manager Jen Coates reporting that over 30 people attended the project’s pre-bid meeting on Jan. 30; five of those companies went on to actually bid on the contract, with bids ranging from $1.4 to $1.9 million. The town budgeted up to $2 million for the construction project (bonding requirements put many smaller-scale local contractors out of the running, Coates said).

The Colorado Water Conservation Board awarded a $1.2 million grant/loan package to the Town of Ridgway last fall to help finance the Lake O project. In late January, the town applied to the Colorado River District for additional grant funds to cover a portion of the project construction.

At last week’s council meeting, Coates complimented Town Engineer Joanne Fagan for her work to move the project forward. “She did an amazing job,” Coates said of Fagan. “The crunch in getting a final design out the door in a really complicated project is something you don’t do every day.”

Mayor John Clark agreed. “Hats off to the entire staff,” he said. “This is a momentous thing, and we should all be very proud and grateful for the long hours they have been putting in. It is a huge deal for the Town of Ridgway, providing a safe and good supply of water in very uncertain water times.”

According to its website, Rundle Construction is a general contractor based in the North Fork Valley, focusing on pad work, pipe line construction, land clearing, tree services, excavation, construction and mining services. The company typically employs between 30 and 70 personnel, depending on the season.


The Ridgway Town Council gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up at its Feb. 12 meeting for planning to proceed with a “Townie Crit” bicycle race on Saturday, April 12, following a loop course through the streets and alleys of Ridgway.

A “Townie” is an old-school one-speed bicycle often referred to as a “cruiser,” used primarily for getting around town. “Crit” is short for “criterium,” a type of bicycle race in which competitors ride laps on a short loop course, often on closed-off city center streets.

Ridgway’s “Townie Crit” would be styled after a similar event in Crested Butte, in which competitors dress up in whacky costumes and ride laps through town on a course that takes them right through the middle of a popular local watering hole. (Ridgway’s course may go through the Sherbino Theater, if event organizers have their way.)

The Ridgway Townie Crit is planned to be held in conjunction with a Spring Bicycle Swap on Clinton Street. Both events will benefit the Ridgway Area Mountain Bike School (RAMS), a program run through Voyager Youth Program.

“We want to raise funds to take the kids on field trips to other biking destinations,” explained RAMS head coach Sara Ballantyne. “Our mission is to get more kids on bikes and to become lifelong cyclists.”

The Ridgway Townie Crit will be open to participants of all ages and cycling abilities. Although racers will be encouraged to ride on their “townies” (if they have one), any kind of bike will do.


The Ridgway Town Council recently received a letter from the mayor of La Palma, El Salvador, accepting Ridgway’s invitation to become “Sister Communities”.

La Palma is a city of 20,000 in the highlands of El Salvador with a vibrant arts culture. Local students at Ridgway Secondary School targeted the community last year as one of three top candidates in Central and South America to become Ridgway’s first-ever Sister City.

“We are very  pleased to hear that the youth of Ridgway have selected La Palma as their first Sister Community, recognizing our shared interest in citizen participation in development, the creative arts, local industry, and environmental sustainability,” stated the letter, which came in both Spanish and English versions.

Council asked Town Manager Jen Coates to draft a response. Ridgway students are expected to present council with suggested next steps in developing sisterly relations with La Palma at the next council meeting.

Councilor Jim Kavanaugh first proposed that Ridgway should seek a sister city about two years ago. Together with fellow councilors Jason Gunning and Rick Weaver, he advocated for a link to “like-minded towns that share some things in common” with Ridgway with the goal of promoting correspondence, understanding, and exchanges.

Kavanaugh and Gunning, a teacher at Ridgway Secondary School, enlisted local middle and high school students to help in the endeavor.


The Town of Ridgway’s end-of-year financial report for 2013 came with a pleasant surprise; actual expenditures were almost $176,000 under budget. Council had budgeted for a total of $2,067,013 in expenditures for 2013, but actual expenditures amounted to only $1,891,150.

“The lion’s share of the credit goes to (Ridgway Town Clerk/Treasurer) Pam Craft and her conservative budgeting,” said Mayor Clark. “She is really good at estimating carefully and conservatively.”

The money in the 2013 budget that went unspent will roll over into the 2014 budget, into the various funds where it was initially allocated.

swright@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @iamsamwright

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