LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Seventy-five days after the Marshall Fire ravaged more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County, hundreds of lots sit uncleared. Debris remains scattered across many neighborhoods as the county's mass-scale cleanup plan works its way through a process that's covered in red tape.
Both Louisville and Superior have seen roadblocks in getting cleanup underway. The fire moved through both areas and into unincorporated neighborhoods. Staff and resources have been scarce, and negotiations with debris companies took time.
Boulder County is also dealing with a lawsuit brought by a nonprofit called Demanding Integrity in Government Spending, which is led by Michael Brown, the former FEMA administrator under President George W. Bush. The lawsuit alleges that the commissioners discussed the contract behind closed doors, which is illegal under state statute.
That lawsuit has held up the contract approval process for the cleanup. However, officials in both Louisville and Superior say they are ready to sign the contract with DRC Emergency Services, LLC, a Louisiana based company, to clean up the mess brought by the fire. In a response to the lawsuit, Boulder County argued that Demanding Integrity in Government Spending does not have standing and that a judge should dismiss the case.
Boulder County commissioners said in order for debris removal to begin, the following steps must be completed:
- Finalize an intergovernmental agreement between Boulder County, the City of Louisville and the Town of Superior. The agreement has been approved by both the city and town and will considered by Boulder County commissioners on March 22.
- Resolve the preliminary injunction motion in the lawsuit filed by Demanding Integrity in Government Spending. A hearing on the motion has been set for 11 a.m. on March 18.
- Sign a contract with DRC Emergency Services, LLC. Pending the outcome of the March 18 hearing, the contract could be signed by the commissioners on March 22, the same day they consider the intergovernmental agreement.
Officials in Superior hope the implementation will start in the coming days.
"We've just sort of been stuck in neutral while they've been negotiating," said Neil Shah, trustee for the Town of Superior. "We're finally at a point now that the contract can probably be executed later this week."
Homeowners are racing against the clock to start the cleanup process so foundations can be laid before next winter. If they are not, construction could be delayed even further.
"People are looking for things that they can control, things that they can do to mitigate their their financial liabilities and burdens so that they can move back home as quickly as possible," said Jeff Durbin, Louisville city manager. "We'd love to see the barriers to the debris removal getting taken care of."