For the first time in more than two years, the Windsor Town Board met with members from the Great Western Industrial Park for a joint work session that got the two groups on the same page about continued growth, while searching for a solution to pesky train noise.
Among the topics discussed on Monday was the blaring train horn rule that has awoken families since it mandated in 2005 that trains must sound the horn for 15-20 seconds as they approach all public grade crossings.
Mike Ogborn serves on the advisory board for OmniTRAX, a railroad management company that often uses rail in the Great Western Industrial Park. He said the company has a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — TIGER — grant application submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation that could grant thousands — even millions — of dollars for railroad improvements. Among improvements that money would fund could be better switching stations and even a potential for quiet zone improvements that could silence train horns through parts of Windsor.
He said there are about 480 applications for the TIGER Grant this year. The government will grant about 50 annually, amounting to nearly $500 million, according to the Department of Transportation’s website.
Ogborn said the town’s unique situation with short line rail, expansive residential growth and a continued booming industrial park could stand to get the attention of decision makers before some other grants.
“It creates an adversarial relationship,” Mayor John Vazquez said of the train noise as it relates to growing industry versus population and a challenge of finding solutions the ensure quality of life among residents. Immediately after he said that, a train’s series of horn blasts echoed across the industrial park and into the meeting room, igniting laughter and illustrating a point.
Ogborn urged town staff to again reach out to representatives in the region and contact Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who may have the biggest sway among the lawmakers and leaders with the Department of Transportation. Town staff again agreed to be persistent and ensure all elected representatives know where Windsor stands on the issue.
As for whether the actual rule from 2005 could be re-opened or changed to reflect community comment and criticism, Ogborn said there could be a chance so long as communities across the nation keep on putting pressure on the government.
The balance has been complicated, especially in Windsor, which is home to a booming industrial park that only stands to grow alongside rail into the future.
Clay Drake, a leader with Broe Land Co. and a development icon within the Great Western Industrial Park, led most of Monday’s informal meeting and provided a recap of where the area stands at present and where it could be going. Currently, there are 12 companies on site, and the area has drawn 1,200 direct jobs over the past 10 years, solidifying it as a major part of Windsor’s economy, he said.
“There are a lot of things that go on here that allow us to do our job, and that’s made easier because of the openness Windsor has,” Drake said, lauding the town’s pro-business planning.
The area in the industrial park represents about 2 percent of the land in the community, yet 21 percent of the town’s property taxes stem from the park — about $4 million dollars annually, he said. That number is expected to rise, further showing what a major role the industrial park plays across Windsor.
“It’s pretty significant when you consider how small Windsor is.”
There are a lot of things that go on here that allow us to do our job, and that’s made easier because of the openness Windsor has.
Broe Land Co.