Who authorized road signs in De Beque? No one seems to know
No one is taking responsibility for ordering the placement of “end of county maintenance signs” around the town of De Beque.
The signs, placed by Mesa County Road and Bridge Department, sprang up last month. In reaction to the signs and to a proposed evaporative wastewater pond facility on the outskirts of town, De Beque placed signs limiting the weights of vehicles allowed on the roads to 7,000 pounds, effectively barring access to the site.
During a meeting last week between the Mesa County Commission and County Attorney Lyle Dechant, Commissioner Steve Acquafresca asked the question: “Whose idea was it to put ‘no maintenance signs’ up now?”
He expressed irritation that the signs were planted.
“We just got out of court with De Beque. It is a sensitive environment,” Acquafresca said. “I just think the signs were a poor judgment call.”
Did County Administrator Jon Peacock place the signs?
“I didn’t know about the signs going in,” Peacock said.
Was it Road and Bridge Director Eric Bruton?
“It was (Jon Peacock’s) policy making and directive: We are not maintaining any of these roads until that discussion (between De Beque’s and the county’s road and bridge departments) was had,” Bruton said.
Acquafresca said the road and bridge department should have checked with the commission before acting. But Commissioner Janet Rowland responded, “I would have told them to do it.”
Commissioner Craig Meis said he was in agreement with Rowland and told Acquafresca, “I’m not going to throw staff under the bus.”
Meis went on to say the signs were not placed to provoke De Beque, but simply as a way to let residents know who to call if they have an issue with a certain section of road.
After the meeting, Peacock said the signs fit within his policy, which he did discuss with Bruton, but he never directly authorized their placement. Peacock said because of the string of annexations in De Beque, there was no clear line defining who maintains what section of road.
Usually, he said, municipalities meet with county road crews and make those decisions, and they often trade off sections of road maintenance for other services or for maintaining other roads.
“We never had that discussion,” Peacock said, referring to talks between De Beque and the county. “We haven’t had any request from De Beque to enter into an agreement. ... We want to have that discussion.”
Bruce Smith, De Beque town manager, declined to comment.