Seven meetings in January for Bluff
by David Boyle
During the month of January, the Bluff Town Council held seven meetings, including one in regards to their dark sky lighting ordinance and one in a joint meeting with the board of Utah Dine Bikeyah, who co-owns the old Bluff elementary school now known as the Cooperative Cultural Center.
As part of their efforts in January, the Bluff Town Council held a strategic planning meeting on January 19 to discuss projects and goals for 2022 and the next five years.
The Town Council identified the implementation of their dark skies ordinance, an office remodel at the Bluff Community Center and a fire suppression system, and other projects at the Cooperative Cultural Center.
Other priorities identified included the Main Street Project, improving communication with Bluff Water Works Special Service District, and revisiting the town’s general plan and fee schedule.
Longer range priorities over the next five years include securing the airport land from the Bureau of Land Management, as well as continued work on the newly purchased Cooperative Cultural Center and the Bar Well.
During the meeting, council also discussed jobs and duties currently being filled by volunteer labor and plans to address workplace needs through the hiring of a town manager. The position listing is still open as of this report.
The council was already at work addressing annual goals at their meetings in January, one being the improvements to their recently purchased building.
Council member Jim Sayers is reportedly working to secure funding through the USDA for the needed update to the building fire suppression system.
While insurance concerns exist over the existing playground equipment at the site, members of the community have expressed interest in keeping the equipment in place.
The town arranged for a playground equipment inspector to come and look at the equipment. The council hopes to keep the equipment in place, if possible.
Other needs for the Cooperative Cultural Center include establishing a policy for scheduling shared spaces between the town and Utah Dine Bikeyah.
The town council and members of the Utah Dine Bikeyah board held a joint meeting on January 18 to tour the facility. Council members reported good feelings about the meeting, including a shared vision between the two entities.
During January, the council and members of the community continued conversations about the community dark sky ordinance.
While the Dark Sky Ordinance – passed in December 2019 – was meant to become effective at the end of 2021, lobbying from various business owners and residents in Bluff convinced the council to delay the enforcement of the ordinance for six more months.
The ordinance was passed to limit light pollution, to conserve energy, and to keep a rural feel in the town.
The 14-page ordinance, available on the town website, details allowable and unacceptable outdoor lighting in the town.
On January 25, the council held a dark sky lighting workshop with a class from the University of Utah. The 2022 Spring class plans to assist the town in the efforts to implement the ordinance.
At the workshop, members of the Consortium for Dark Skies class, taught by Dr. Kate Magargal, asked questions of the council. Questions included how the town will enforce the ordinance, how the night sky environment factors into the future of Bluff, and what the priorities are for the future of dark skies.
Ahead of the implementation of the ordinance, Bluff resident Diana Davidson purchased a light meter for community use. This should allow residents to determine if their property is in compliance. Details about how to access the meter are forthcoming.
The council plans to continue discussions and work with the public and the University class in future meetings.