City of Ouray
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 Community Plan - Part 2  


Part 2


The land use pattern in Ouray reflects a concentrated, built-up central business district surrounded by Victorian-era residential neighborhoods. New residential developments have been built primarily on the outer edges of town, while new condos, townhouses and motels have been built in some older neighborhoods close to the town center. More recently residential development has expanded to the north in the annexed corridor along Highway 550 and the Uncompahgre River. Both at the time of the original plan and in 2003, there is no concentrated industrial activity in Ouray.

Ouray established zoning regulations in 1972. Six zoning districts were created:

P-1 Parks, Developed R-1 Residential C-1 Commercial

P-2 Parks, Conservation R-2 Residential, High Density C-2 Commercial-Industrial

Definitions, standards and permitted uses for each zone are found in Section 7 of the Ouray Land Use Code.


Historically, residents have strongly supported maintaining the existing boundaries of the zoning districts; zoning districts have remained unchanged since their inception. Within the original town limits (from the municipal pool south), the zones were created to reflect existing land use patterns.

North Ouray (from the municipal pool north to Rotary Park) was designated C-1 and C-2. Most of this area was undeveloped when the zoning ordinance was created. Therefore, the C-2 designation for industrial uses in North Ouray did not reflect existing use; it was created to provide an opportunity for industrial growth. Lot coverage and minimum lot size requirements for the C-2 zone still reflect the low-density industrial uses that were anticipated, even though much of the recent development has been residential. Public comments during meetings in 2003 for input on the Plan update indicated concern over the apparent trend of converting C-2 land to residential uses.

During the public comment period for the 1993 plan, there was a lot of concern regarding how the North Ouray corridor will develop. Original suggestions for this area included maintaining public open space (Forest Service land or City-owned land) and access to it, creating pedestrian paths along the highway and river, landscaping around new development, and promoting mixed-use development to accommodate growth in housing, businesses and industry. The Uncompahgre River flows through the zone; some of the land is affected by federal, state and local regulations governing floodways, flood plains and wetlands.

Soon after adoption of the 1993 plan, the City sponsored a planning effort aimed at lands in the North Ouray corridor. A Vision Statement was adopted that emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to the river and its associated floodplain. Implementation involved a major undertaking that has resulted in many of the policies and action items recommended in 1993 being accomplished. As of 2003, the Ouray Uncompahgre River Restoration Project has restored the river channel and led to a renewal of the entire North Ouray corridor.

Concern was also expressed in 1993 for the strip of C-2 zoning that runs along the river through town from the Third Avenue bridge to the municipal pool. This area was originally an industrial zone that included the railroad right-of-way, the power plant and other businesses. Most of the industrial uses have been discontinued and the primary use of the land now is residential, lodging and camping. Several commercial businesses and the power plant still remain in the zone. In 1993, some residents suggested rezoning land in this area to R-1, R-2 or P-1 to reflect desired future uses. As of 2003, rezoning has not occurred, but neither has any industrial development.

During the comment period for the 1993 plan there was support for keeping businesses from expanding into R-1 (the current regulations seem to be acceptable). Some residents were concerned that more large motels in R-2 would adversely affect the current pattern of mixed use (houses, condos, bed and breakfasts and motels now blend together in R-2) ´┐Ż´┐Ż# concerns included the creation of large paved areas required for motel parking lots, drainage problems caused by large parking lots, lack of landscaping and height of buildings.

Density and over development were areas of concern during the public comment period in both 1993 and 2003. Residents commented on the need to keep development in balance with the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s ability to provide community services and facilities. In 1993 residents stated that taxpayers should not have to pay for additional capital improvements required by new development. Since then policies and regulations have been adopted that require development to pay its own way. During development of the original plan, some residents thought two houses should not be allowed on one lot, and some said new subdivided lots are too small. There were many comments in both 1993 and 2003 stating that open space should be protected and that greenbelts, future parks, and landscaping are important to reduce the effect of increased density. Some residents said, in 1993 and 2003, that street and parking lot lighting and signs should be compatible with Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s character and natural setting.

Public comments in 2003 expressed the need to evaluate development trends in light of their effect on structures in Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s National Historic District. The possibility of establishing sub-districts or overlay zones within the boundaries of the historic district was discussed. There was also significant discussion about the need for design guidelines or standards aimed at guiding development so that the integrity of the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s historic resources is protected.


1. Plan for growth and redevelopment that maintains the high quality, small town character of Ouray, preserves and enhances the scenic beauty, natural resources, environmental quality and cultural assets that make Ouray a desirable place to live.


1. Ensure that the City Code is structured to maintain the diversity and vitality of Ouray for residential, cultural and commercial/services.

2. Ensure that zoning and development requirements address adverse impacts resulting from conflicting land uses..

3. Reduce negative fiscal impacts on the City and its residents by new development.

4. Reduce environmental impacts and hazards created by new development.

5. Create design guidelines for new development or redevelopment as identified by the pending updated inventory of structures in the historic district.

Growth and Development


1. Cooperate with Ouray County and the Forest Service regarding sound planning for the area surrounding the City to accomplish mutual planning goals.

2. Require new development to pay its share of costs associated with its present and future demands on the community.

3. Create performance standards for new development.

Recommended Actions

1. Complete a density build-out analysis for the City to determine future capital improvement requirements for increased City services and facilities. Identify where there is a shortage in the capacity of public utilities and city facilities. Establish a process to regularly review and update the analysis.

2. Ensure that, as growth and development occurs, open space and access to it is maintained.

3. Plan for future parks and open space as needed.

4. Clarify subdivision regulations, which pertain to condominiums.

5. Consider revisions to the existing land use regulations to accomplish the goals, objectives and policies stated in the Community Plan.

6. Establish a cooperative planning agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.

Residential Neighborhoods


1. Preserve the existing housing stock to ensure quality residential areas.

Recommended Action

1. Develop regulations to create affordable housing opportunities.

Commercial and Industrial Uses


1. Encourage infill of vacant lots along Main Street and adjacent C-1 zoned properties.

2. Support efforts to create more pedestrian facilities and other facilities for outdoor use including benches, plazas, walkways and public restrooms

3. Continue to promote sign standards, which allow effective business identification while preserving Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s natural setting and traditional small-town character.

Recommended Actions

1. Evaluate the impacts of restricting residential uses in the C-2 zone.

2. Evaluate the impacts of restricting residential uses on the first floor, in the C-1 zone on Main Street between 4th Avenue and 9th Avenue.

Accomplishments Since 1993

1. Development is tied to the ability of the City to provide new services and facilities

2. Requirements were adopted to ensure that new development pays its share of improvement costs necessitated by the development.

3. Utility corridors are planned, designed or implemented to avoid conflict with existing and future uses and to protect scenic and cultural resources.

4. Regulations for development in areas of known hazards are being enforced.

5. With landowners´┐Ż´┐Ż" participation, a comprehensive development plan for North Ouray (from the municipal pool to Rotary Park) was created that provides for maintenance of open space, adequate community services and facilities, parking and landscaping, pedestrian opportunities, improved safety on Highway 550 and other factors necessary to enhance the community while allowing for growth and development in this area.

6. New development now must include adequate provisions for pedestrians and landscaping elements.

7. A plan and associated policies for annexation have been adopted.

8. Regulations to allow Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) in any zone have been adopted.

9. The definition of building height has been revised to take into account the overall height of the structure and its relation to the slope of the building site.

10. A cooperative planning agreement with the County has been established.

11. Resolution of parking needs and traffic flow has been made a high priority.

12. Underground utilities to new developments are now required.

13. Performance standards to address impacts of new development have been established.

14. Adverse impacts on residential housing caused by motel development in R-2 have been mitigated.

15. Landscaping and lot coverage regulations for new commercial lodging in R-2 have been established to help maintain a balance between residential and commercial buildings.

16. Lot coverage regulation for paved parking surfaces have been created.

17. Density in the C-2 zone has been managed by establishing minimum lot sizes and revised lot coverage limits.

18. Lot coverage limits, parking requirements and minimum lot size for C-2 have been redefined to meet minimum standards for similar uses in other zones.

19. Guidelines for expansion of new residential, commercial and industrial uses in North Ouray have been established by a comprehensive development plan created by current landowners, residents and municipal staff.



Ouray was incorporated in 1876. Ouray is a statutory city; it has not adopted a home rule charter. Ouray may govern its own affairs within certain limits, but authority to exercise powers is derived from State statutes. The City Council is comprised of five elected officials ´┐Ż´┐Ż# two representatives are elected from each precinct and the Mayor is elected at large. Precinct One is located east of Main Street; Precinct Two is west of Main Street. There are four administrative departments, General Government, Public Works, Public Safety, and Parks.


While much of Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s appeal for residents and visitors alike stems from its picturesque San Juan Mountain setting, this same asset can be a liability when it comes to providing municipal services. Terrain and climate of the mountains pose challenges in the delivery of utility services that municipalities in the ´┐Ż´┐ŻSflatlands´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐Ż do not have to face. Conversely, Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s small town character and sense of community fosters volunteerism, which facilitates the delivery of emergency services in particular. While not as refined or extensive as in urban areas, in most cases Ouray is fortunate to have an array of services that is more than adequate.

Facilities in Ouray compare favorably or exceed those found in other communities. The park system in particular is exceptional by any comparison. The community center, City Hall, public schools and library are also first rate for a community of this size.

Services and facilities provided by the City include potable and wastewater treatment, streets, sidewalks, drainage and flood control, parks, open space, community center, law enforcement, and fire protection. Other services and facilities such as electrical power, communications, library and business/community promotion are provided by a variety of private sector or non-profit entities.

Revenue to pay the cost of services provided by the City comes from a variety of sources including utility service charges and investment fees, park admissions, sales, property and other taxes, as well as various other license and permit fees. In recent years grant funds have played an increasing role in City finances, but these revenues are typically used for capital improvements rather than the delivery of services.


Normal precipitation, is adequate to satisfy Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s current water requirements with some reserve capacity The City owns water rights at Weehawken Spring, Weehawken Creek and Oak Creek. All of the water currently used by Ouray, over one million gallons per day during summer months, comes from Weehawken Spring. The capacity of the spring, during periods of normal precipitation, is adequate to satisfy Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s current water requirements with some reserve capacity. Regular tests required by the Colorado Department of Health have shown Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s water to be free of microbiological and inorganic contaminates.

Under an agreement made in 1996, the City agreed to sell excess untreated Weehawken Spring water to BIOTA Pure, L.L.C. for bottling purposes. The agreement allows the City unlimited use of Weehawken Spring water, but after these needs are met BIOTA Pure is entitled to bottle the next 100,000,000 gallons per year, provided that during the months of November, December, January, February and March, all but 50,000 gallons bottled per day of BIOTA´┐Ż´┐Ż"s use are subordinate to use by the Ouray Ice Park´┐Ż´┐Ż"s needs as determined by the City.


Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s water is disinfected with chlorine gas. Filtration is currently not required, however, the State may require a filtration plant in the future, a large capital expense. Major expenditures were incurred in 1993 to improve the spring source to comply with State requirements

Water is stored in a 500,000-gallon tank. Through a Water System Distribution Master Plan completed in November of 2003, the need to increase storage capacity, replace substandard mains, improve chlorination and system reliability, was evaluated. Much of the distribution system that delivers water throughout the city utilizes old steel pipes in poor condition. Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s varied elevations create pressure problems in some sectors of town. Pressure regulating valves have been installed but the problem is not entirely corrected and the valves require frequent adjustment and maintenance. The improvements identified in the Water System Distribution Master Plan will cost nearly $2 million. In November of 2002 voters authorized borrowing up to half of that amount and it is hoped that the balance can be provided by future grants and City capital reserves.

During the public comment periods for the plan in 1993 and 2003, residents said the water system should be carefully managed to protect the supply, quality and distribution. Some residents said new developments should pay for the increased burden on services such as water and sewer. In recent years water investment fees have been increased to help fund future capital improvements.The higher fees will be paid by all new developments and the funds collected are reserved for use in capital improvements projects.

Wastewater Treatment

In July 1992 the city initiated construction of a new wastewater treatment plant which combined aerated lagoons with constructed wetlands. The new plant provided an increase in capacity while offering the benefits of constructed wetlands. It was to be visually pleasing, a sanctuary for small animals and waterfowl, emit less odor and discharge cleaner water into the Uncompahgre River than a conventional plant. When completed it was the largest constructed wetlands wastewater treatment plant in the State of Colorado, and the largest plant of its kind anywhere in the U.S. at this altitude.


Many of the older sewer lines are jointed clay tile pipes that allow infiltration from groundwater sources into the system. Infiltrated water passes through the treatment plant and adds to the burden of treatment. Parts of the system have been replaced with newer concrete or PVC pipe and current policy is to replace at least 2,000 lineal feet of substandard pipe each year.

Currently, the treatment plant can process up to 363,000 gallons of effluent per day, which is about 38% more than the average flows during the summer season when flows are the highest. Improvements aimed at reducing odors were installed in 2002 and 2003 and other measures are being evaluated. Plans are being made to divert backwash water from the hot springs pool filtration system, now processed by the plant, to an auxiliary treatment structure buried in the pool parking lot. Estimates show that this could significantly increase capacity at the wastewater plant. In recent years, sewer investment fees have been increased to help fund future capital improvements.. The higher fees will be paid by all new developments and the funds collected are reserved for use in capital improvements projects.

During the public comment periods in 1993 and 2003, residents said the system for wastewater collection and treatment should be carefully managed to prevent problems with effluents and to ensure adequate treatment capacity.

Streets and Drainage

Until recently, all of Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s streets, except Main Street were unpaved. In recent years, however, paving has occurred on lower Third and Seventh and upper Fifth Avenues The City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Public Works Department is responsible for maintenance that includes grading, drainage and snow removal. Dust control on gravel streets is achieved by at least one application of magnesium chloride during the summer. Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Main Street is U.S. Highway 550. All aspects of Main Street, including parking, signage, auto and pedestrian traffic control are regulated by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Components of Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s drainage system include Portland and Cascade Creek Flumes, the new Fourth Street interceptor system, concrete valley pans, drop inlets, miscellaneous culverts and the streets themselves.


During the public comment period for the 1993 plan, some residents said better maintenance of streets and flumes is a concern. They wished to see a reduction in bumps and ruts, better dust control for the streets and protection from ´┐Ż´┐ŻSflumalanches´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐Ż in Cascade Flume. In 1993, the City initiated action to prevent flumalanches in Cascade Flume. Some residents said better general clean up of streets, alleys and flumes is important and that random fill and dumping along street rights-of-way should be prevented. Some residents supported paving some of the busier streets in Ouray to improve dust control and drainage. A more complete analysis of dust in Ouray appears in the Environment section of the Community Plan.

Thanks to voter authorization, proceeds from a bond originally used to finance construction of the Portland Flume, were approved for use to pay for street paving. This revenue could pay for the paving of approximately one block per year, but since these same funds must also pay for flume maintenance, the City Council must prioritize between these two important areas of infrastructure.

In 1993 some residents expressed concern that local community needs and pedestrian safety may not be adequately reflected in Colorado Department of Transportation policy, which places a high priority on moving vehicles efficiently and quickly along Highway 550, Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Main Street. In response to these concerns, traffic lanes on Main Street were delineated to provide a center lane for freight unloading, one lane north and south and left turn lanes at each avenue intersection. Markings at all pedestrian crossings have also been made more distinct.


Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s bridges include vehicular bridges over the Uncompahgre River and Portland and Cascade Flumes, and pedestrian bridges over the river and flumes.


Bridges over the Uncompahgre River have been replaced to comply with Colorado Department of Transportation standards. The Third Avenue bridge was replaced in 1989, the Box Canyon exit and entry bridges were replaced in 1990 and 1992 respectively and the Seventh Avenue bridge was replaced in 1992. Eighty percent (80%) of the cost of bridge replacement was paid by State grants. Due to deterioration of the wood structures, bridges over Portland and Cascade Creek flumes have gradually been reinforced with steel girders or heavier wood stringers. This increases their capacity to accommodate heavier loads from fire and garbage trucks.


The sidewalks of Ouray are owned by the City. Residents are required, by city code, to repair, replace and maintain sidewalks, including snow removal, adjacent to private property. Sidewalks were originally provided in the older neighborhoods and the commercial district of Ouray, but have not been built in many newer areas of development. The Master Plan for parks and trails addresses future pedestrian circulation citywide and the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s sidewalk master plan provides an assessment of sidewalks in all parts of town.


During the public comment period for the 1993 plan residents said increased pedestrian opportunities and safety are important to Ouray. Some said pedestrian safety should be improved along Highway 550 and at flume bridges. A pedestrian mall in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue (around City Hall) was suggested.

Modified traffic lanes on Highway 550 have reduced speeds and increased pedestrian safety as has upgraded pedestrian bridges over the flumes. A master plan for pedestrian enhancements in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue is now in process, overseen by the Beautification Committee.

Access to hiking trails and the Amphitheater road has been improved thanks to cooperative efforts between the City and the Ouray County Trails Group.. Public transportation between Ouray and Montrose was suggested as was a shuttle bus from the pool parking area to Main Street..

During the comment period for the original plan, some residents said a park or walkway along the Uncompahgre River should be considered. In 1989 design of a trail system along the river from Ouray to Delta was completed by the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Colorado at Denver. An organization, Uncompahgre RiverWay, Inc. was formed to help implement the plan.

Following adoption of the 1993 plan, the City, affected land owners and federal agencies embarked on a planning effort that ultimately led to the restoration of a one mile section of the river in the northern limits of the City. This project was completed in 2002 and features a pedestrian walkway on both sides of the river throughout the project area. This trail forms the southernmost section of the Uncompahgre RiverWay project.

Parks and Trails

Ouray has seven parks and multiple trailheads that provide a wide variety of recreational activities for residents and visitors. Maintenance and capital improvements for the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s parks system are paid for by the Parks Fund, which operates as a government enterprise. The Parks Fund is supported mainly by revenues generated at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool and Box Canyon Park. Trailheads within the City provide access to an extensive network of hiking trails on adjacent public lands.


The comprehensive plan for park facilities, trails and recreation programs that some residents said was needed during the comment period for the original plan was completed in 1998. A description of the major components addressed by the 1998 plan follows.

Hot Springs Park and Pool

Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Hot Springs Park includes the Hot Springs Pool, bathhouse and fitness center, a playground, outdoor basketball and tennis courts, baseball/soccer field, walking/jogging track, gazebo, picnic tables, barbecue grills and public restrooms. The Hot Springs Pool is Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s most popular attraction and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It annually generates significant revenue while providing employment for as many as 40 full and part-time employees. Natural geothermal water from several sources is mixed with cooler water from the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s domestic water system to supply the pool. A filtration system to improve pool water quality and achieve compliance with state and federal standards began operating in 1996.

The Colorado Geological Survey has studied the sources of Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s geothermal water and concluded that the aquifer probably does not contain a large quantity of water, but ´┐Ż´┐ŻSas long as hot water is not removed from the system faster than it is being recharged, the quantity and temperature of the water in the system should remain in equilibrium´┐Ż´┐Ż´┐Ż. The CGS report indicates there is adequate hot water for the pool without affecting other springs. Because the available quantity of hot water is unknown but assumed to be limited, further development, if any, of geothermal water sources will be carefully monitored.

Box Canon Park

Box Canon Park is accessible to the public year-round but is staffed, with charged admission, only during the months of May through October. During these months it offers picnicking, interpretive learning, sightseeing, with short hikes to the famous Box Canyon Falls and an overlook. A small admission fee and low expenses have allowed the park to consistently operate at a profit, not including repayment of debt for recent capital improvements.

Since 1999 several major capital projects have been completed at the park including a new visitor center furnished with interpretive exhibits, bridge and stairway to the falls, high bridge stairway, high bridge decking and stringers and catwalk to the falls. The new visitor center now makes it possible for the park to be staffed on a year-round basis and this has been attempted on a trial basis during the Christmas/New Years holidays and during the annual Ice Festival in January. There is also an opportunity for expansion of nature trails and picnic areas onto the adjacent Whippoorwill Lode acquired by the City in 1989.

Ouray Ice Park

Ancient glaciers and the Uncompahgre River have carved a dramatic canyon through solid rock at the south edge of town adjacent to and within Box Canon Park. The Uncompahge Gorge, as it´┐Ż´┐Ż"s called, is an impressive natural phenomenon in any season, but during the winter months it is indeed spectacular and a perfect venue for Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s newest sport, ice climbing.

Land in the gorge is held by a combination of public and private owners that together lease their property to Ouray County, which in turn oversees operation of the Ouray Ice Park through a non-profit organization, the Ouray Ice Park Inc. During winter months, employees of the Ice Park use overflow from the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s water tank and freezing temperatures to transform sheer walls of the gorge into solid towers of ice. The Ouray Ice Park is the only facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, attracts thousands of climbers annually and has benefited the local winter economy greatly. With the assistance of the Trust for Public lands, the City, U.S. Forest Service and other landowners are cooperating in an effort to consolidate ownership of properties in the Ice Park. Consolidated ownership will greatly simplify Ice Park operations and clarify insurance and liability issues.

Lee´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Ski Slope

Lee´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Ski Slope is a youth downhill ski hill on the south side of Ouray. A rope tow, currently in service on weekends and on weekdays after school, provides conveyance to the hilltop. An operator is present while the tow is in use, but there is no charge for use of the lift. The City supports its operation from park revenues. The base apparatus was completely rebuilt by the City in 2001.

Rotary Park, Cascade Falls Park and Woman´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Club Minipark.

Visitors use Rotary Park, fronting Highway 550 on the north side of town, primarily as a picnic area and rest stop. Cascade Falls Park, at the east end of Eighth Avenue, is an undeveloped park with a parking area and access, by a primitive trail, to the base of Cascade Falls. The Woman´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Club Mini-park, corner of Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street, has playground equipment for small children and picnicking.

Conservation Parklands

City-owned land on the hillsides east and south of town is currently zoned P-2, which requires land to be left in its natural state except for parking and sanitary facilities. During the public comment period for both the original and 2003 plan update, residents said hillsides should remain undeveloped and existing open space should be maintained and protected. Maintaining the P-2 designation for this land will help protect Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s natural setting.

Uncompahgre Park

In response to consensus voiced during development of the original plan, an effort began in 1993 to articulate community values regarding the future of lands in the northern reaches of the City. The effort created a Vision Statement for the North Ouray Corridor, which called for complete renewal of the area beginning with restoration of a one-mile section of the Uncompahgre River. Construction began in the fall of 1996 and was completed in the fall of 2002. The project created an 18-acre riparian corridor on either side of the river that will be owned and maintained in perpetuity by the City. Previous to this, private ownership prevented public access to the river. The riparian corridor has been developed as a park and features a continuous walkway linked by pedestrian bridges across the river and is furnished with amenities such as picnic tables, exercise equipment, interpretive panels, public parking and a restroom.


The Ouray School is funded to provide for kindergarten through 12th grade. Two hundred sixty four (264) students were enrolled for the 2003-04 school year. The school regularly achieves higher than average academic standards. The campus consists of two buildings; the main building was built in 1937 and the secondary building with a gym, shop and cafeteria was built in the 1960´┐Ż´┐Ż"s. Several capital projects have upgraded facilities since then, most recently a new library, classrooms and gym improvements completed in 1997.

The school is fiscally independent from the city. Funding for operations is derived from the State and from local sources. The local portion of the funding is raised by a mill levy from property taxes. Funding for facility improvements is raised through bond issues that are repaid by property taxes. All property taxes and mill levies are administered by the County Treasurer.

City Hall and Community Center

The original City Hall, including the Walsh Library on the second floor, was built in 1900. It was damaged by fire in 1950 and rebuilt with a modern façade. In 1983, the adjoining Community Center building was constructed and a connection made to the space formerly occupied by the Walsh Library on the second floor. In 1988, a civic effort was initiated to replace the 1950´┐Ż´┐Ż"s front with a reproduction of the historic design. Thanks to funding provided by gifts and donations, the project was completed at that time. The City Hall now houses the City administrative offices, library and police department.

The Community Center houses the Emergency Services Center on the ground floor, including the fire department, and emergency medical services. The three Community Center meeting rooms have capacities of approximately 30, 150, and 300 persons, as well as facilities for food preparation. The rooms are currently rented for meetings, conferences and civic events.


The public library, located in City Hall, is supported by a mill levy on property taxes, donations and funds raised by Friends of the Library. The library owns approximately 16,000 volumes.

Police and Fire Departments

The Police Department is located in City Hall and employs four full-time officers, including the chief. The Volunteer Fire Department, housed on the ground floor of the Community Center, has about 28 volunteers and four vehicles including a 1983 750-gallon pump truck, a 2000 model pumper/ladder truck, a quick-response 200-gallon truck and a 2003 model tender for firefighting in remote areas that lack developed water systems.

Emergency Medical Services

Emergency medical services for the community, including two ambulances and 10 to 15 EMT´┐Ż´┐Ż"s, are directed by Ouray County, but headquartered in the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Emergency Services Center. Mountain Rescue, with approximately 50 volunteer members, is directed by the Ouray County Sheriff´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Office. The 911 emergency phone service became available in 1992 and is managed by a county-wide Emergency Management Board.


During the1993 and 2003 public comment periods for plan development, residents commented on the importance of maintaining quality emergency services and encouraging continuing volunteerism.


Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s power needs are served by the San Miguel Power Association, which has a franchise agreement with the City. As an REA co-op, any profits realized are to be returned to its customers. Overhead transmission lines that feed Ouray from the north have recently been upgraded in conjunction with construction of a new substation located at the City´┐Ż´┐Ż"s northern limits on north Oak Street. Over time, this new substation will replace the old original facility located on the river at the south end of town. This will also allow the overhead transmission lines between the old and new substations to be abandoned.

Telephone and Internet Service

Quest provides telephone service to Ouray. Internet service is provided by a local company, Ouraynet.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is not currently available in Ouray, but a gas provider has recently secured permission from the City and Ouray County to construct pipelines that will serve both entities


1. Provide efficient and high quality community services and facilities to the residents and visitors of Ouray.

2. Manage growth in a manner that balances land development with the ability of the City to provide necessary public services, facilities and capital improvements.


1. Ensure economy and efficiency in operations and capital improvements projects.

2.Maintain a balance between growth and development and the capacity of services and facilities.


Government Administration

  1. Achieve more effective and comprehensive planning.

  1. Promote economy and efficiency in all expenditures, seek grants for funding whenever possible.

Water and Sewer

  1. Maintain the quality of Ouray's water.

  1. Continue to use water and sewer investment fees to raise revenue to pay for capital improvements.

  1. Monitor the capacity of the water and sewer systems with respect to new demands created by growth and plan for needed system improvements.


  1. Make safety, paving, dust control and maintenance high priorities.

  1. Encourage landscaping and other streetscape improvements.

  1. Urge the State to improve avalanche safety and enforce hazardous materials regulations on Highway 550.


  1. Recognize the importance of pedestrian opportunities and safety in all planning and development.


  1. Maintain and expand Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s current parks program including developed parks for

recreation and undeveloped parks for public open space.

Emergency Services

  1. Work cooperatively with the county to support emergency medical services and encourage volunteerism.


  1. Support efforts to improve the quality of utility services and facilities in Ouray.

Recommended Actions

Government Administration

  1. Develop a Capital Improvements Program, that identifies long-range needs and financial implications.

  1. As needs arise, create citizen groups to study and propose solutions to problems. Encourage citizen participation in study groups.

  1. Create a policy or plan for public properties.

  1. Update the existing City Forestry Plan prepared by the State Forest Service.

Water and Sewer

  1. Implement the recommendations made by the Water Distribution System Master Plan.

  1. Replace at least 2,000 linear of substandard sewer line per year.

  1. Address odor problems at the wastewater treatment plant.

Streets and Drainage

  1. Establish standards and specifications for streets.

  1. Clean up weeds and debris in flumes, landscape the perimeter of the Cascade catchment basin.

  1. Complete implementation of the drainage plan.

  1. Require landscaping and replanting along streets in coordination with forestry plan.

  1. Support efforts to improve safety on Highway 550 through Ouray.

  1. Investigate alternatives to achieve more effective dust control.

  1. Use voter authorized revenues from the Portland Flume tax to pave streets.


1. Create a comprehensive plan for construction and maintenance of sidewalks and other pedestrianways, including snow removal.

  1. Establish standards for sidewalks on grade (including allowable slope, railings and steps).

  1. Complete the Uncompahgre Riverway through Ouray.


  1. Expand the P-2 Parks-Conservation designation for undeveloped land on the hillsides around Ouray.


  1. Address issues of need, location and cost for new restrooms.


1. Establish standards for street lighting; consider decorative lighting and additional lighting for safety in some areas. Promote street lighting standards that will preserve Ouray´┐Ż´┐Ż"s natural setting and traditional small town character.

Accomplishments Since 1993

  1. The need for future improvements and expansion of water storage has been analyzed.

  1. Long-range plans for water improvements have been created and record drawings maintained.

  1. Progress has been made to bring water and sewer systems into compliance with state and federal regulations.

  1. Flumalanche prevention devices have been installed on the Cascade Creek Flume.

  1. Better communication between the City, County and State for maintenance of Highway 550 has been achieved.

  1. The pros and cons of paving some of the busier streets to improve dust control and drainage have been considered.

  1. Railings and steps on footbridges over flumes comply with the Uniform Building Code.

  1. Pedestrian safety and sidewalks in the comprehensive plan for North Ouray have been planned for.

  1. Access, signage and parking for hiking trails have been planned.

  1. The City has provided for persons with disabilities by requiring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  1. The City and landowners have created a comprehensive parks development plan including facilities planning, parking and circulation planning, landscaping and budgeting, with public participation in the planning process.

  1. Major improvements have been made at Lee´┐Ż´┐Ż"s Ski Slope.

  1. The City has worked with utility companies to identify alternatives and establish corridors for future service needs.

  1. The City has supported efforts to improve power and phone service and to bring natural gas to Ouray.

  1. Last Updated: Friday, November 09 2007 @ 03:11 PM MST|Hits: 21,787 View Printable Version

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