Mayor discusses broadband, mountain coasters and CBD

Assistant Town Manager Travis Machalek and Mayor Todd Jirsa addressed community concerns at Big Horn Restaurant Thursday morning.

Assistant Town Manager Travis Machalek and Mayor Todd Jirsa addressed community concerns at Big Horn Restaurant Thursday morning. (Claire Woodcock / Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

About twenty people showed up at Big Horn Restaurant on the outskirts of town to have coffee and breakfast with Mayor Todd Jirsa.

Jirsa started the Mayor’s Chat by giving Ken Zornes the floor. Zornes was elected to the Town Board of Trustees in April. He is a former school teacher and has lived in Estes Park for three years. He said he is pleased to serve the community as a Board Trustee.

“I do believe in public service,” said Zornes. “I have held elected positions before, I was on the school board in Dallas for six years, served two terms as Board President.” He’s also a new board member with a group called Flinch Forward, which helps military veterans and first responders re-adjust to their communities.

The status of improved internet in the valley was one of the first hot topics talked about Thursday morning with a number of moving parts to it. Assistant Town Manager Travis Machalek referenced the Town’s Broadband Initiative, which states to improve broadband access in the Town’s Light and Power service area. This includes more than 300 square miles stretching from Glen Haven through Estes Park, Pole Hill and down Highway 7 to Allenspark. The estimated cost, according to the Town’s Broadband page is near $30 million.


“We have completed our full detail cost engineering survey,” Machalek responded. “The Board has asked us to come take a look at what it would look like to finance this using revenue bonds. So our Finance Officer is working with the bond council to see what it would look like, what a structure might look like, how much might be able to be raised and [Finance Officer Duane Hudson] is in the process of doing that. Once we have that information, we’ll take that back to the Town Board, probably in the fall, early fall and the Town Board will have the opportunity to make a go or no go decision based on all of the facts.”

According to Machalek, electric utility is working on smart grid improvements that will continue regardless of what happens next with broadband. He also noted there have been discussions on what an improved public Wi-Fi infrastructure would look in the future but there are no definite plans at this time.

Later in the chat, concerns were raised following the July 10 Town of Estes Park Board of Trustees meeting regarding the proposal to build a mountain coaster on property owned by Mayor Pro Tem Cody Walker in unincorporated Larimer County. Views expressed in the Mayor’s Chat included that citizens don’t want Estes Park to be known as Disneyland.

“Why is it in this housing market that you would think a coaster that is across the road is going to drop property value? Mayor Jirsa asked. “I’ve heard this argument before, have failed to see it within Estes Park because those property values

The last issue discussed came up regarding the Town’s marijuana ordinance and the cannabidiol products sold at CBDepot, a downtown business that opened earlier this summer. One individual said they were disappointed in the Town for administering that business license. CBD products must contain 0.3 percent or less THC to be sold in the town according to the Town Clerk’s office.

“In the business license we issued, one of the stipulations was to adhere to those definitions,” said Machalek. “If they start selling products that arise above that threshold no longer the CBD oil products and form into these active thc marijuana, that’s not what we choose.”

It will be another month until more issues can be discussed in the monthly Mayor’s Chat with Jirsa.


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