By Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.
Date line: Friday, October 18, 2013
To paraphrase Bing Crosby, the crooner of all crooners, “I’ll be home for Halloween.” That, according to Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen, was the take-away for a large portion of the displaced Lyons residents at Thursday’s (October 17) Community Update Meeting at the LifeBridge Church. Simonsen laid out the latest “windows” for when various sections of town should have full utilities (i.e., electricity, water, sewer, and gas), and thus be able to move back home.
For the “Upper Elevation” (Steamboat Mountain Road, Vasquez Lane, Longs Peak Drive, etc.) the “Town North” area (the business district around Main Street/High Street, and “Old Town”), and the northern section of the “River North” area (the north side of Evans and up toward Broadway), the estimate is next weekend, Saturday or Sunday, October 26 or 27! With the caveat that the “Upper Elevation” are may be dependent on water pressure.
Stone Canyon and Lyon Valley Park (the high school area) can expect to have full utilities sometime between Saturday, November 2, and Saturday, November 9. Eagle Canyon will be perhaps a week later, between November 9, and November 16 or 17. The area of “West of 5th Avenue (Ewald, etc.) should come on line sometime between Saturday, November 9, and Saturday, December 7, depending on how things go with the sewer connections. The hardest hit areas, the southern portion of the “River North” area (Park Street and the south side of Evans) and the “Confluence” (the area between the North and South Forks of the St. Vrain Rivers and Rte. 7), will be six to twelve weeks out, and on a house-by-house basis.
Simonsen reminded everyone that the gas would not be turned on until the water is in place, and she said that Xcel would have teams of service/repairmen on hand to go house-to-house to turn on pilot lights to ensure that there weren’t any mishaps. She also warned the public that Xcel would be “drying the gas lines” at various locations around town over the coming days, so not to freak out if you smell gas. If the odor persists for more than fifteen or twenty minutes, notify Xcel or Town Hall. Simonsen also reminded residents that daytime check-point will probably come down around Saturday, October 26, when a significant portion of town will be able to move back in, but that the nighttime check-point will remain in place. She cautioned that some of the utility crews would be working “around the clock,” so residents should be prepared for higher nighttime noise levels, and take extra precautions when moving about town after dark.
As far as the progress on the roads and bridges, Simonsen said that “work on the broad” (bridge/road) near the McConnell Bridge should begin in “the next few days” after the contract has been awarded, and should be completed in four to six weeks. Roadwork continues all around town, especially between U-Pump-It and the Black Bear Inn, so use caution when traveling around town. The latest target date for the schools to relocate back in Lyons is perhaps during the Thanksgiving break (rather than the Christmas break), but that remains dependant the “broad” at McConnell, and is up to the St. Vrain Valley School District.
In a heartwarming moment, Simonsen brought members of the Town Hall Staff: Deb Anthony, Deb Russell, Jacque Watson, Arian Powell; Library Staff: Merlin Williams, Mary Ferris, Joanne Barnard; Parks & Rec: Dave Cosgrove, Marissa Davis, Luke Ames, Mike Harris; and Public Works: Kyle Miller, Rusty Ribble, Don Lunsford, and Steve Elsberry; up on stage to a standing ovation from the crowd of appreciative residents. Simonsen also noted how heroic the Public Works crew were, using heavy equipment during the flood, to go house-to-house to rescue residents who were stranded and stuck by the raging currents. Be sure to thank them all, the next time you see them out and about in Lyons.
Mayor Julie Van Domelen had a message for those residents who were hardest hit (the Confluence area and the two mobile home parks) by this disaster. She told them, “We have not forgotten you. We are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that you all have a home in Lyons to return to. So, please don’t give up on the Town of Lyons.” She reiterated the importance of registering with FEMA and SBA (now also located in the Lyons Elementary School gym), and to keep checking back on the status of your claim. It is much easier to talk (and explain circumstances) to a human, than to deal with an automated phone or online questionnaire.
Van Domelen also announced that the Lyons Community Foundation (LCF) has now taken in nearly $500,000.00 in donations, and will be giving out grants of between $200 and $5,000 to individuals who: live, work, or own businesses in the Lyons area. The deadline to apply for these grants is Tuesday, November 12. Applications can be downloaded at the LCF website: www.lyonscf.org, or picked up at Temporary Town Hall (Lyons Elementary School) or at various locations around town (i.e. St. Vrain Market and ReRuns). The Lyons Economic Development Commission (EDC) also has their revolving loan fund up and running, and Oskar Blues has its Can’d Aid relief fund grants available to help Lyons businesses get back on their feet and get through the winter months. Van Domelen announced that a massive fundraising effort was now getting underway, with a goal of getting ten million dollars donated to keep the Lyons businesses afloat during this trying time. So, if any of you have any rich friends, corporate matching programs, alumni associations, crowd funding ideas, etc., please contact Town Hall.
Stay positive, we will get through this, and the Lyons community will come back even stronger in the future.