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City of Cortez

  • The city of Cortez is participating in a grant from the U.S. EPA to identify so-called brownfield properties for potential reuse and revitalization. Brownfield sites are properties where expansion or development may be complicated by the presence of pollutants or hazardous waste. In 2022, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment awarded Cortez, Firestone, Longmont, and Lyons a collective $2 million brownfields grant to cover the costs of initial site assessments and studies. Some properties in Cortez – like KSJD’s own Sunflower Theatre – have benefited from brownfield cleanup and community revitalization in the past. And a preliminary settlement was reached late Tuesday in a lawsuit over alleged transparency violations in the Colorado State House of Representatives.
  • On Thursday, a coalition of local government agencies and nonprofits is dedicating a park bench to those in the Cortez community who have died in the area while experiencing homelessness. The Montezuma County Homelessness Prevention Coalition is a collaboration between groups like The Piñon Project Family Resource Center and the city of Cortez to help unhoused residents of Montezuma County. Lucia Bueno-Valdez is the homelessness prevention coordinator for The Piñon Project and a key member of the coalition. She says one of the problems the group faces in assisting unhoused people is a lack of available data on how many have lived in Montezuma County, historically. And Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is speaking out against a proposed merger between grocery store giants Kroger and Albertsons.
  • On Tuesday, the Cortez City Council will hold a meeting and make a decision about a rezoning application for a parcel of land near Carpenter Natural Area. The parcel to be discussed during Tuesday’s meeting is located off of Highway 491 and is owned by Independent Log Company. The land does not border residential properties but is adjacent to the park. And Indigenous communities are calling for a million acres of land surrounding the Grand Canyon to be declared a national monument. The Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni national monument would leave in place a moratorium on uranium mining in the region that tribes like the Havasupai say is important to protect sacred sites like nearby Red Butte.
  • In Cortez, residents are expressing concern about the potential environmental impacts of rezoning land next to the Carpenter Natural Area. The parcel of land is owned by Independent Log Company, which recently submitted an application to the city of Cortez to change the zoning of the land from commercial to heavy industrial use. If the land is rezoned, it will mean large industrial equipment and chemicals can be stored on the premises. M. Waldron, a resident of Cortez and a representative for a community group advocating on behalf of the Carpenter area, says concerned Cortez residents can attend the city’s planning and zoning commission meeting on July 18 to make public comments, in addition to the next city council meeting on July 25. And new privacy protections for consumers in Colorado took effect over the weekend.
  • The city of Cortez is holding several listening sessions starting on Tuesday as part of the next steps in updating the land use code for the city, which was first adopted 27 years ago. Rachael Marchbanks, the city’s community and economic development director, says that the listening sessions are organized by Logan Simpson, the consultant company for the city. The eventual changes to the land use code will factor in the need for affordable housing in Cortez, she says. And a bill that would make changes to Colorado’s election system was approved by the state Senate last week.
  • Cortez Mayor Rachel Medina made a statement at Tuesday’s city council meeting about the recent cancellation of a local LGBTQ pride event. The council also approved Juneteenth as an official city holiday gave the go ahead for the Fourth of July fireworks show in Parque De Vida.
  • The Ute Mountain Ute tribe is raising money to open a grocery store on its reservation. Federal COVID-19 waivers for free school lunch will end when the school year is over. And summer water restrictions in Cortez take effect on Sunday and will remain in place until September 15.
  • It’s the beginning of election season once again, at least in Cortez. The city’s 2022 election is this spring, on April 5. Candidates for city council are just lining up to run. As the process kicks off, KSJD’s Lucas Brady Woods sat down with Cortez City Clerk Linda Smith at City Hall to get an idea of what this year’s municipal election looks like.
  • October marks the start of a new calendar for those who measure and manage water in the Western US, and much of the region remains in drought at the beginning of the new “water year"; Friday is the deadline to apply for the Cortez Community Grants Program.
  • It’s a busy time in the Cortez city government. The annual budget for 2022 is in the works and new initiatives are being rolled out to improve transparency with the community. KSJD’s Lucas Brady Woods has more.