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Mancos residents upset by use of chemicals at parks

Town strayed from organic management plan this month

The Mancos Board of Trustees’ decision to stray from the town’s organic parks management policy earlier this month was cause for concern from two residents at the board’s meeting Wednesday.

Foxtail and cheatgrass weeds got out of hand at Cottonwood Park. Those weeds can be harmful for dogs, and because the park is a designated off-leash dog area, trustees June 8 that it was necessary to break the town’s organic management plan to spray chemical herbicides.

At a July 27 board meeting, trustees authorized parks manager Terry Jennings to work with Premier Weed Management and Consulting to spray for weeds in the 13-acre Cottonwood Park and 6-acre Boyle Park. The parks were sprayed on Sept. 6 and 7. The cost for the two applications was $2,837.50, according to town documents.

The last time the parks were sprayed for weeds was in fall 2014, Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said in an email. From summer 2014 to spring 2015, town staff and community members worked to devise an organic parks management plan, which includes chemical-free weed mitigation methods such as hand pulling, mowing to a higher grass height to crowd out weeds and an organic spray called Burnout, Phillips said.

Town citizen Joanie Trussel spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, expressing her disapproval for the decision to spray the chemicals at the park. She said residents are entrusting the board of trustees with their well-being, and they should not have decided to spray the park. The chemicals have been a deterrent to the parks for some kids and parents, she said.

“Parents have learned that the park is now toxic and they no longer take their kids to the parks,” Trussel said.

Resident Peter Brendemoore said the mix of weed killers was “liberally sprayed” all over both parks. Though the board decided to spray to cut out foxtail and cheatgrass, the chemicals have not killed those weeds, he said.

“I was personally saddened and deeply upset by the decision,” Brendemoore said.

Mancos Mayor Queenie Barz said the town would stick to the organic management plan as much as possible, but she did not guarantee that the parks would never be sprayed again.

“We are not abandoning the organic management plan,” Barz said.

Barz also advised concerned citizens to bring their concerns to the board of trustees during a meeting instead of approaching park staff while they are out in the field doing their jobs. The trustees were responsible for the decision and concerns should be brought before the board, she said.

According to an invoice from Premier, workers in Boyle Park used a combination of five chemicals on Sept. 7. Those included 4 gallons of SpeedZone herbicide, 20 gallons of controlled-release nitrogen, 3 quarts of Full Load, an herbicide surfactant and 1 quart of Foam Out, a defoaming product. They also used 4 pounds of Axilo mix, a micronutrients blend.

The weeds targeted in Boyle Park were musk thistle, field bindweed, Canada thistle, broadleaf plantain, black medic, dandelions, redstem filaree and clovers.

In Cottonwood Park, Premier workers used 12 oz of Plateau herbicide, as well as a pint of Full Load and 8 ounces of Foam Out. Workers targeted cheatgrass in that park.

Also at the meeting, trustees approved an ordinance authorizing a preliminary plat and rezone request for the Creekside subdivision on N. Beech Street.

The 35-acre development will include eight lots for single-family homes. The town planning and zoning commission approved the measures Aug. 17. This is the second phase of the Creekside development.

Trustees also an ordinance temporarily lifting the town burn ban for the Mancos High School homecoming bonfire on Oct. 20 and reinstating the ban after the bonfire.

Trustee Michele Black reported that some townspeople were upset that the trustees were upset about the increase in water tap fees.

Previously, the town allowed holders of inactive water and sewer taps to pay $5 per month per tap. That price is less than the monthly minimum bill of $73 for both water and sewer taps, which applies to active taps.

Trustees approved an ordinance Aug. 24 that will end the practice of charging inactive tap holders a lower price, requiring them to pay the minimum, $73 fee for water and sewer taps.

Barz said the trustees made that decision, and anyone with concerns should come to a meeting to provide feedback to the board.

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