The Town of Estes Park and Larimer County have issued orders requiring the closure of short-term accommodations in the Estes Valley effective Monday, March 23 at noon through April 17. This is in consideration of Estes Park's unique situation as a mountain visitor destination and our resident population with a high median age. A news release and complete orders are available at www.estes.org/covid-19.
Town Administrator Travis Machalek commented on this difficult decision:
We have seen how fast this virus can spread in resort communities throughout our state. Summit County, Gunnison County, and San Miguel County have all recognized the danger posed by large numbers of people visiting small communities during this crisis and have acted boldly to protect their communities. I believe that Emergency Order 01-20 is necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents of Estes Park.
I issued this order, in conjunction with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment's order, to affirm the Town's commitment to protecting the health and safety of our valley residents and to underscore the potential severity of the consequences of inaction. This was an incredibly difficult decision. I am fully conscious of the impacts these actions have on businesses and their employees, having seen how accommodations-initiated closures have already played out in our community. Our friends and neighbors are affected, but everyone's health comes first.
Our next step is responding to the impact of the virus itself and the impact of the steps we are all taking to prevent its spread. Mitigating these negative impacts on the economic well-being of our residents, our businesses, and our town will not be an easy task, but it is a critical one and we are committed to see this through. We are fortunate to have many partners in this effort, and together, we will ensure our community emerges from this challenge stronger than ever.
Mayor's request to close RMNP, and the RMNP closure
On behalf of the Town of Estes Park, yesterday Mayor Jirsa sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior requesting the immediate closure of Rocky Mountain National Park to help reduce visitation to our area, supporting public health recommendations and helping to focus local resources on the immediate needs of our community. View the letter at www.estes.org/covid-19. The National Park later announced its closure effective March 20: www.nps.gov/romo.
March 24 Town Board meeting
The board agenda for March 24 is available at www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings. The board will meet virtually and their meeting will be streamed at www.estes.org/videos. Public comments on agenda items are requested by noon Tuesday March 24, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a voice message at 970-577-4773 where the comments will be transcribed for the board. The quasi-judicial Elkhorn Lodge development plan items are expected to be postponed until such time that adequate public participation is possible.
Update from the Police Department
The men and women at your Estes Park Police Department are dedicated to addressing today's unprecedented challenges with resilience and confidence. The effects of this swift-moving pandemic are wide-ranging, but our commitment to serve our community is absolute. Our professional staff members are passionate in their efforts to serve. Operational plans are reviewed and revised daily to ensure we can continue our community-oriented services and meet the needs of our community in this most trying of times. Our officers, civilian employees and administrative leaders are taking precautionary measures to stay well and healthy, with a focus on continuity of operations. Our department's work ethic and outlook is built on the foundation of invaluable experience from previous community hardships. As fellow community members of Estes Park, we are together in this effort. We will emerge stronger. We are Mountain Strong.
Town facilities and events
Town facilities are currently closed through March 31, with a reevaluation by Friday 3/27. We expect this will be extended. Town events have been canceled through April 18.
Municipal Election reminder
Ballots for the Municipal Election, April 7, 2020 arrived this week at the Post Office in Estes Park for delivery. In an effort to maintain social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Clerk's office is encouraging voters to return ballots through the mail or use the Town's drive-up ballot drop off at the main entrance to Town Hall on MacGregor Avenue, adjacent to Bond Park. The drop-off location will be available beginning Friday, March 20, and continue through Monday, April 6, weekdays only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election judges will also be available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, April 7. Please remain in your vehicle and an election judge will retrieve your ballot. More details at www.estes.org/elections.