New council member takes his post

Kraig Andrews

More than an hour of procedure preceded the eventual naming of Kraig Andrews to fill a vacancy on the Grand Junction City Council Wednesday night, and it took a late vote change from Mayor Rick Taggart to break a 3-3 deadlock.

A process that allowed for multiple "yes" votes to create a slate of candidates for the seat led to three finalists — Andrews, Sarah McCarthy and Abram Herman.

However, the final vote landed at 3-3 — a few times — with council members Phyllis Norris, Duke Wortmann and Phillip Pe'a supporting Andrews and councilors Anna Stout, Chuck McDaniel and Taggart siding with McCarthy.

"This group has turned incredibly political," a deflated Wortmann said, after the long series of votes and re-votes. "I don't agree with what's going on. I look to you, Mr. Mayor, for the leadership, and I ask that you change your vote.

"I can't ask you more sincerely than I'm doing right now," Wortmann implored.

Finding compromise, though, was always Taggart's aim, he said, and he relented, voting "yes" to Andrews in a final vote.

"I appreciate what Mr. Wortmann said and it is my role to try to find a compromise," Taggart said.

"I really feel that Kraig brings to the table what we're missing on this council," Norris said, on multiple occasions during the discussion and votes, about Andrews, a 43-year-old mortgage lender.

The council was left without a representative for District E when previous council member Duncan McArthur resigned his seat last month for health reasons.

The city charter dictates that, once appointed, the replacement council member will serve until they can run for the seat themselves in the next municipal election, in this case April 2021.

District E covers the city south of Riverside Parkway, and part of downtown between Seventh and 12th streets north to Orchard Avenue.

Council on Wednesday also reached another important milestone in the development of Las Colonias Park, with the approval of a nearly $1.3 million construction contract that will create a new inlet channel of the river nearby, as well as extend the current water channel to draw more river runners to the park.

The contract — awarded to K&D Construction of Grand Junction — will lead to a new 475-lineal-foot inlet channel and an approximately 850-lineal-foot extension of the existing channel, providing for the addition of 1.77 acres of open water, according to city information prepared for councilors.

When the work is finished, by no later than the end of the year, the excavated channel extension will have continuous water flow when the Colorado is flowing above 810 cubic feet per second. The secondary channel that will be created will have drops and pools, in-stream habitat structures and boulders, and other recreational and interpretative amenities.

Just west of Las Colonias along the river is the Riverfront at Dos Rios economic development project, and the council also took a step with that effort Wednesday by unanimously approving the Grand Junction Dos Rios General Improvement District — an entity governed by the city that can assess property taxes and issue bonds.

The new taxing district will consist of property owners within the designated area. Right now that voting number equals two — the city of Grand Junction and Jen Taylor, who recently bought a parcel with plans to open a multi-acre campus that includes a cantina, event space and lodging opportunities.

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