Letters to the Editor

Letter: Praying the Thompson Divide will remain as it is

December 17, 2014 — 

As a professional skier, I am fortunate to travel all around the world to compete and explore. But no matter where I am or what I’m doing — skiing in the French Alps, or surfing in Central America, or whatever — there is no place as special for me as the mountains in the backyard of my hometown, Carbondale.

The Thompson Divide is a place where I spent my childhood chasing my older brothers around the woods on family hikes. It is where I seek solitude and quiet in order to appreciate everything my life has become. I ride my bike there, I hike there, I camp there. My love of the outdoors and my curiosity about the world began in the genuinely wild and pristine place known as Thompson Divide.

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Letter: Protecting sage grouse is winning strategy

December 17, 2014 — 

In recent discussions about the greater sage grouse, it seems that some people believe that protecting habitat for this magnificent Western bird is at odds with economic viability in the region, and that we must choose between our well-being and that of other creatures that share our state. That notion is not only false, but it is also harmful to our own well-being in many ways. For one, securing sage grouse habitat will also protect the health of our deer and elk herds. That is good for hunting, and hunting is good for Colorado’s economy — especially in the more rural parts of our state.

Balancing habitat protection with energy development is key to the survival of many species. In fact, protecting habitat for the sage grouse is part of a winning strategy for protecting the viability of western Colorado communities, not a detriment to it. One recent study by ECONorthwest commissioned by the Western Values Project found that recreation, hunting, fishing and other similar activities in Colorado’s northwest corner generate over $75 million in revenue for the state.

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Letter: More gas regulation is unacceptable

December 16, 2014 — 

I am glad that Gov. Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force decided to make the trip out the West Slope, seeing as how this is the heart of the state’s natural gas production. I was even happier to see that hundreds of my fellow West Slope residents were on hand to let them know that additional regulation is unacceptable.

The message from the West Slope was not just one of “no more regulation,” however. The people present actually had an alternative for the task force and the Denver politicians to consider. The “Western Slope Way” that was talked about is how we have dealt with oil and gas development in Garfield County for some time — through engagement, not antagonism.

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Letter: Questions for CDOT on bridge

December 16, 2014 — 

I am still troubled by CDOT’s lack of long-rang planning for traffic no Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs. The bridge being planned to cross the Colorado River is massive and only will solve our short-term bridge and traffic problems. How will this $100 million bridge tie into our future roads? The lack of long-range planning to remove Highway 82 traffic from Grand Avenue is a concern for me and many others in Glenwood Springs.

Also I am concerned about the build-out time frame. This has already been lengthened. The CDOT contractor in Idaho Springs is having trouble completing his bridge project on time. A six-week project has turned into 14 weeks. I can already feel excuses for a Glenwood delay. Glenwood business will be impacted and CDOT will not pay any locals for lost income just like Idaho Springs.

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Letter: Did task force hear West Slope Way?

December 15, 2014 — 

A few days ago, over 300 West Slope residents from all walks of life gathered in Rifle to tell Gov. Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force how important energy development is to our families and community. We went to make sure that the task force understood that the oil and gas industry is an integral part of our community, one that creates jobs, supports our economy and works closely with its neighbors to make sure it is doing things the right way.

We were there to talk about what has been termed the “West Slope Way,” which describes the manner in which we have come together as a community to find ways to best work with the oil and gas industry so that we can reap the benefits and prevent any problems. We told the task force about all of the things in place to help foster communication between the citizens and this industry which contributes so much to our way of life.

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Letter: Murphy’s Law and the new bridge

December 15, 2014 — 

“The Bridge.” It’s not just another canceled TV drama. It’s the four-lane center of a public safety drama just waiting to happen right here in River City. But not the drama you’ve been told to fear. No, it’s not likely to fall down anytime soon.

But it is going to be closed down, maybe only for 90 days. Or (says Murphy), “probably longer.” Why? “To replace it with a new, slightly wider and taller, four-lane bridge.” Why? “Beats me,” says Murphy, “Lots of my friends like the way our narrow bridge gets people to drive carefully; but there is all that money, the state money.” Enough to pay for the whole project, says I? “Nope,” says Murphy. So we have to pay? “Yep.” Do we know how much? “Not really. Projects like this rarely come in under budget.”

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Letter: Water conservation should be a priority

December 14, 2014 — 

I grew up making summer trips to the Fryingpan Valley, where I spent hours along the banks of the Fryingpan river sometimes bravely treading into the cold water. My experience with — and love of — this watershed expanded when I spent summers raft guiding on the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers. I have come to respect Colorado’s rivers, and also recognize many are endangered.

Over 40 percent of the water in the Fryingpan Basin is diverted and pumped through mountains to the Front Range, and it’s a similar story for the Roaring Fork. The Fraser River has a staggering 60 percent of its water diverted, and the Crystal often dips below the minimum recommended environmental flow.

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Letter: Let’s leave the rivers alone

December 14, 2014 — 

When are people going to be satisfied with what nature has given us and quit trying to (so-called) make it better, which very seldom happens?

Especially for the city of Glenwood to be trying to put in more whitewater parks in our “natural“ river. I don’t think the one already in West Glenwood should have been allowed.

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Letter: Love the Caverns lights

December 14, 2014 — 

I just love the lights at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park!  

Every time I drive into town from my home or when I go home from town, I love to look up at those beautiful lights floating in the sky. The Christmas season is only about a month out of a year and the lights in downtown and on houses and at the Caverns are a beautiful happy thing to behold. The Caverns is a wonderfully fun family place to be, and what better way to celebrate the season then with caroling and lights. When you are driving down a dark highway and you turn the corner and see the cross on one hill and the lights on the other with the lights at the Hotel Colorado directly under the Caverns lights it gives you a warm welcome to our amazing city. Take time to look up and put a smile on your face, when you look at the lights, it just might make your day!

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Letter: Let’s clean up our act

December 13, 2014 — 

Dear humans who live in these valleys and planet, I call your attention to the trash situation in our beautiful valleys and planet.

It is not a matter of pointing fingers or avoiding responsibility.

It is the fault of all of us humans who live here. If we are vigilant we will notice the sad state of dirtiness that is everywhere. You and I, all of us, as conscious inhabitants must make the effort to better this situation and educate our descendants to pay attention to cleanliness.

When we see papers, cans, plastic containers and general trash we must consciously pick them up and dispose of them in the multiple trash cans throughout the valleys. We must give the example to those who haven’t learned it yet. If we have mascots, we must make sure to pick up after them.

All this must be done without complaining or accusing. Example is the best teacher.

Are you ready to give that example? The sooner we start the sooner our area will be clean.

Paddy Flynn

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Glenwood snow removal must improve

December 13, 2014 — 

In addition to human health and safety, practical improvements can be made immediately to improve snow and ice removal on Glenwood Springs’ roads and walkways. I am miffed that no effort was made to plow the riverwalk between the Roaring Fork River and Doc Holliday’s grave.

To describe the pedestrian walking conditions within the city of Glenwood Springs as treacherous would be an understatement. Folks who have lived through many winters here have told me that snow removal has never been better in town and often is terrible.

I would like to mention concern about the quality of the surface waters passing through town. The routine practice of spreading large amounts of salt and silt on city roads jeopardizes the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water for as far as Southern California.

This is nothing new, but there are more environmentally friendly ice-melting products readily available: blue or green ice melt mixtures. Just take a look at what one property owner used along the 1000 block of Grand Avenue on the first afternoon of a recent snow.

Much like Nevada and California do around Lake Tahoe, our city should adopt some of their ice and snow removal procedures (use of noncontaminated dirt and salt alternatives) to facilitate the water quality, clarity and nonhazardous conditions of the Colorado River.

By monitoring weather forecasts, the street department can better manage getting plows out at the first sign of snow, avoid driving idle (plow not lowered while driving), not creating melting snow conditions into water that can freeze late in the afternoon and at night (leaving more difficult ice removal and driving and walking hazards the next morning, particularly during commute hours).

No sympathies are being solicited, but perhaps you have some empathy for this writer because he is disabled with no benefits from RFTA’s traveler transport services.

David A. Dailey

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Thanks to Forest Service on Thompson Divide

December 13, 2014 — 

My family recently moved to Carbondale from Aspen (where my wife and I both grew up), and I am so grateful for the high value on community ideals and readiness around and commitment to local food system sustainability here.

I love that so many, dare I say the majority of residents, here understand that the health of our community relies on the health of our environment, and that a united front like the Thompson Divide Coalition is working tirelessly to assure that health is in place for many generations to come.

I want to give huge props and a heartfelt thank-you to the U.S. Forest Service for standing behind the well-being of our future by closing off leasing of land at our headwaters (our life source), the Thompson Divide. Thank you, U.S. Forest Service, for following through on what all our public entities should be doing, preserving and respecting humanity and the world around us. I only hope that the BLM follows your leadership in doing the right thing.

Eden Vardy

executive director, Aspen T.R.E.E.

Letter: Don’t resist an officer

December 12, 2014 — 

I want to thank Jean Pristas of New Castle for the first intelligent and honest reporting of the Michael Brown shooting. Michael Brown was very high on marijuana as his two autopsy reports reveal.

We can’t put handcuffs on our policeman when we ask them to protect and serve us. If I am attacked and need a policeman to help me, I could be seriously injured by the attacker or even killed because the public has handicapped our officers. If an officer is doing his duty as he is trained, then the officer has the right to get a statement from you regarding a crime and you should not get belligerent. If the officer needs to arrest you, you should not get resistive. Every Ferguson protest claim about abusive policemen shows the person was resistive and not cooperative. If you get injured when a policeman is doing his duty, then you are at fault, not the officer.

It took five officers to arrest a very large Eric Gardner in New York because he was belligerent and resistive, which would have been a different result if Eric Gardner had cooperated with the first two officers instead of resisting. We the public make the quality of law enforcement officers we pay to protect and serve us.

Irvin Tilley

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Will the bridge devastate downtown?

December 12, 2014 — 

We have been bombarded with how wonderful the proposed new bridge alignment would be for the future of Glenwood Springs. The 6th Street area could be redeveloped into a pedestrian-friendly commercial district, and the confluence area could become a new thriving business and restaurant area.

But what would be the effect on the Grand Avenue business district? Siphoning still more income from downtown Glenwood Springs into two more outlying areas is bound to result in business failures and boarded-up storefronts, ultimately converting what is now the heart of Glenwood Springs into a derelict shadow of its former self.

CDOT will be happy because there will then be little pedestrian activity to get in the way of a complete and exclusive conversion of Grand Avenue into State Highway 82. And there’s a lot of money to be made from developing the Sixth Street and confluence areas.

Are these consequences of the Grand Avenue bridge replacement plan really unintended?

John Haines

Chairman, Citizens To Save Grand Avenue

Glenwood Springs

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR A page of readers opinions to launch your Friday

December 11, 2014 — 

Glenwood traffic solution: A toll road

I have been watching the plans evolve to replace the Grand Avenue bridge. I honestly feel that bisecting our town with ever-increasing traffic is a really bad idea. I have come upon a solution to fund the bypass that could work. A toll road. Yes, a 2-mile-long tollway that would connect the I-70 exchange with Glen Avenue via the rail corridor.

The state Legislature passed the Highway Authority Act in 1987. This law allows for the formation of an authority of the local government which can plan, design, finance, construct and operate a toll road. In the case of Glenwood Springs, our city can become the authority. Typically there would be a board appointed by the city to oversee the operations.

As we speak, there are two toll roads in the Denver area using this model. Funding can be found via a private/public agreement. There is a department of CDOT called the High-Performance Transportation Enterprise that aids local authorities in finding the funds. Tolls collected would be used to pay down the debt, which can be financed well into the future. Given the results of a traffic/revenue study, a win-win situation is possible.

The win for Glenwood is the possibility of the city actually making a profit from the tolls. We can potentially earn income from the upvalley traffic. Secondly, depending on the study results, it is possible to exclude locals from paying a toll. The win for people traveling upvalley is that of expedience. They would not have to run the gauntlet of traffic lights through town.

It is my understanding that we would need state and federal cooperation to build the road, but would not require funding from either entity.

So, there you are, a long-term solution for a problem we have wrestled with for years. This solution will require immense amounts of time and energy to complete. It will require the political will of the citizens and our elected representatives. It is in my opinion, the only viable option that will allow an alternate route to be built.

Dr. Rob Anderson

Glenwood Springs

Show movies on ‘dark nights’ at Vaudeville Revue

The Dec. 8 article about the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue was right on.

I have enjoyed the Revue’s programs since I moved here in June. At that time, this city did not have a donut shop, 24-hour restaurant or a movie theater. Therefore, I urge Jon Goss and company to show movies during their “dark nights” when the vaudeville act is not playing.

Again, Jessica Cabe did a fine writing about this best entertainment in Colorado, that may be the best in the country.

D.A. Dailey

Glenwood Springs

No common-sense solutions for pedestrians

Never short of ideas for traffic in Glenwood, it’s fun to hear the alternatives. Seldom is heard a common-sense approach, and if so, it’s mentioned in passing.

The proposals could be split into two categories: fear-based and community-based. No one sees beyond preconceived horizons. Each side is wound tight, so a battle of wills ensues, each party talking past the other. Until people are honest with each other, nothing will be solved.

The underlying constant is pedestrians. If whatever solution ultimately ignores people as shoppers and pedestrians, then a lot of time, money and emotion will be wasted. For example, if the presently proposed bridge dumps traffic at Eighth Street, then the downtown is essentially at traffic’s mercy, despite pedestrian walkway bridges ... that are interesting but expensive and maybe not worth the bother to use ... unless they connect to opposite second stories of existing buildings and businesses where internal elevators and escalators could move people. In the meantime, any “people” activity on Grand Avenue would be stifled or pre-empted. Think of the Strawberry Days parade for example. No improvement over the present solution.

As in medicine, the first rule is: Do no harm. That would include minimizing inconvenience during and after any traffic implementation.

Fred Steward

Grand Junction

Sundin misstates Republican positions

After reading Hal Sundin’s “As I See It” column in the Post Independent on Dec. 4, I seriously question Hal’s vision.

Mr. Sundin implies that the Republican Party is controlled by the “extreme right-wing tea party.” If he followed politics, he would know that the second-biggest story in 2014 was mainstream Republican Senate candidates defeating every tea party challenger in the primaries. In Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma and Louisiana, tea party candidates challenged establishment Republican candidates, and they all lost.

These results strongly contradict Hal Sundin’s contention.

Hal goes on to say that the GOP plans on cutting or “doing away with altogether”: Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, school lunches, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, national parks, OSHA, clean air and water, disease control, civil rights enforcement, EPA, etc. Those are not the positions of the Republican Party. Amazingly, Mr. Sundin says the GOP position is: “low-income families should pay for these programs because they are the ones who benefit from them.” I challenge Hal to identify one Republican who has ever stated that position, let alone the entire party.

In case you are wondering what the biggest political story in 2014 was, here it is in the words of The Washington Post: The GOP “victory in crucial midterm elections reflected widespread unease about the nation’s direction and the electorate’s disenchantment with President Obama.”

Donn Willins

Carbondale

New bridge will be a big improvement

I think we need to proceed with the new Grand Avenue bridge. The old bridge is no longer adequate or safe. It also looks like something that belongs in Commerce City, not downtown Glenwood Springs.

Yes, construction will be painful for awhile, but the funding is available, and I think it will ultimately be a big improvement for our community, including the downtown district.

I want to thank Joe Elsen, Craig Gaskill and everyone else from CDOT for hosting numerous public meetings and opportunities for everyone concerned to comment on the project.

Ken Jones

Glenwood Springs

The flaws of Carbondale’s roundabout

I am so pleased to see somebody else (Patrick Hunter) that thinks this statue is about the worst thing to represent Carbondale, Dead flowers. I love it.

Oh, and on top of it, this roundabout is way too small to start with to have a huge statue in the middle of it. Those cars southbound going around and to enter Carbondale are on top of you before you can blink an eye. Stop for anybody in the crosswalk, no problem, they will be taking their life in their hands to even try it.

What was especially dangerous is that if you’re on the left-hand side going in, then somebody passes you on the right-hand side and not watching that there is a car that they can’t actually see. I just hope the first accident doesn’t either claim somebody’s life or the pedestrian trying to cross there. Just something to ponder on.

Jane Spaulding

Carbondale

Trulock is spot-on about the bridge

Spot-On: adjective. Exactly correct: completely accurate.

Kudos to Stanley A. Trulock. Stanley’s insights and comments (PI letters, Dec. 9) on the proposed CDOT bridge were spot-on. He was spot-on regarding the “unnecessary speed of the traffic coming off the new interchange,” spot-on regarding the “monster bridge,” spot-on regarding “looking like the Front Range” (gag), spot-on regarding “burning through money CDOT doesn’t have” and spot-on “forcing the city of GWS” (and others) to pony up.

Citizens of Glenwood, City Council, Garfield County (and yes, Pitkin and Eagle counties, too): Be spot-on.

Dave Heyliger

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Let’s seize opportunities of new bridge

December 10, 2014 — 

The new bridge projects offer a new vision for our town to flourish. We just reclaimed the beautiful coming together of our two rivers from its use as a sewer plant. This and the new vehicle bridge alignment present opportunities for a more pedestrian community and to solve the real world impacts on the downtown.

Bypassing Sixth Street from the Village Inn to the Hotel Colorado, the new vehicle bridge provides a more efficient access and egress to I-70. Removing through traffic for two blocks on Sixth Street creates a pedestrian-friendly opportunity for new development. The new pedestrian bridge will be handicapped-accessible, making the pedestrian experience available to even more people. The new bridges draw attention to the need for an Eighth Street connection to downtown and another bridge from Midland to Highway 82 south of the airport. We have a remarkable opportunity for constructive change. Let’s take it.

After the past three years of a citizen-input process, we have designated replacement of the existing Grand Avenue Bridge and a new alignment for Highway 82. CDOT, the city and the Downtown Development Authority provided leadership and guidance and listened to the diverse voices of our community. Most of us want an alternative route for Highway 82, but not by sacrificing the bridge project.

Let’s take responsibility for the past 50 years of debate and recognize how we all got here on our own. The existing bridge is dangerous and structurally deficient. A new bridge is our best next step. It is not an either/or choice. We are lucky to have the funds available. Few communities have the money. Nationally, it is a multibillion-dollar problem. Reluctance to accept the new bridge is an unwillingness to adapt to the reality of our time.

Please go to City Hall and look at the study model on display, and then stop by the new Glenwood Springs Library and review the Environmental Assessment of the project. Go to the CDOT website and express your thoughts. It’s a bright new future, you better wear shades.

Carol and David Hauter

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Reconsider lighting up the mountain

December 10, 2014 — 

I may be old-fashioned but I have always wanted natural beauty to remain natural. So, years ago when I heard talk of the Fairy Caves being developed, I was very concerned. The caves and Iron Mountain are an amazingly beautiful and sacred gift. I was against the development, but was reassured when it seemed like it was going to be done in an environmentally sensitive way.

Steps were taken when putting up the poles for the tram to not disrupt the land, and I believed the plan was to minimize the visual impact the development would create. Wow, a few short years later, we have a carnival on top of the mountain with half a million lights.

I am saddened when I look up and see the amusement park and now so disappointed that our beautiful night sky was not protected.

I realize Glenwood is a tourist town and needs attractions to serve the tourist. I realize the Adventure Park has provided jobs and has done great things like collecting food for LIFT-UP. And I believe there is a way to do all those good things while still protecting the natural beauty that this area has been blessed with.

I would ask the Adventure Park to reconsider the decision to light up the mountainside and to make decisions regarding future growth with more sensitivity to protecting the natural beauty that is/was present on that mountain. I would ask the county commissioners and City Council to please use the regulations that have been approved to protect our natural beauty. If you share these concerns, please speak up before we lose even more of what we love about this place.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone ... they tram paradise and put up a carnival.

Sarah Hess

Glenwood Springs

Letter: The columnists we like and don’t like

December 9, 2014 — 

Bleeding heart liberal letter writers Ratkiewicz and Kokish were pretty hard on Mr. Talbott. They called him all sorts of nasty names and decided not only they didn’t want to read his column but no one else should be able to read his opinion either.

I thought those “great thinker” progressive clowns attributed censorship only to conservatives.

Personally, I’d much rather see the inanely, feel-good blather of Mr. Bennett eliminated. But the publisher can waste all the newsprint he wants, can’t he?

Bruno Kirchenwitz

Rifle

Letter: Why would Michael Brown be the ‘good guy?’

December 9, 2014 — 

Fifteen minutes before all hell broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, Detective Wilson was at a home with an EMT saving the life of a child. For those who want to make this about race, the child was black.

Fifteen minutes before all hell broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown was ripping off a convenience store, roughing up the owner and then strolling defiantly down the middle of the street under the influence of marijuana.

Can someone explain to me why so many, including the president, the press, and the St. Louis Rams, want to make Michael Brown the “good guy” in this tragedy?

Jean Pristas

New Castle

Letter: Re-1 board: Honor the process

December 9, 2014 — 

I find it alarming that the Re-1 board is considering the renewal of Superintendent Diana Sirko’s contract and not honoring the community process that throughly vetted candidate Rob Stein for the job. Dr. Sirko’s post was seen as a temporary one until Mr. Stein could take the position.

Had a group of aware and active parents not brought this to light, the board may have quietly and behind closed doors — for whatever reason — renewed Dr. Sirko’s contract. While Dr. Sirko did her job, Dr. Stein brings a new level of innovative thinking to education going forward.

Please speak out at the Wednesday, Dec. 10, board meeting starting at 5 p.m. at Roaring Fork High School to demand the board respect the immense effort that went into the search for a new superintendent.

We need the right leader at the helm to take this district’s embrace of learning and personal accountability whether student, teacher, or parent to new heights.

Jenifer Seal Cramer

Glenwood Springs

Letter: It would be a shame to lose Rob Stein

December 9, 2014 — 

The Dec. 10 Roaring Fork School District board meeting is a must-attend event for taxpayers, business owners, parents and community members in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt. Why?

It’s at this meeting that the board will discuss Superintendent Diana Sirko’s request for a contract renewal. The decision is of critical importance because of its cascading impact: Renew Sirko’s contract and we stand a good chance of losing second-in-command Rob Stein, a progressive educator and administrator who is leading the district’s strategic planning, and who many — including some board members — expected to succeed Sirko at the end of this school year.

The community is concerned, but the public outcry is not divisive. Rather, it’s a sign of an engaged, supportive and enthusiastic district. The outcry comes from the very same parents who worked hard to pass the mill levy; who participated in visioning, strategic planning and facilities meetings, and who volunteer in the schools. This community cares because it helped select Stein. This was the community’s decision, not entirely the board’s. And to lose him would be to disenfranchise the very parents most involved in the district, not to mention sacrificing a top-tier administrator who would be almost impossible to replace. Last but not least, it would be a waste of our invested time, and the district’s money, to lose Stein.

The best way to avoid unnecessary divisiveness is for the board to find a way to keep Stein while Sirko finishes her work as our transitional superintendent. Short of that, the board should undertake a new public process for determining who our next superintendent should be.

Ellen Freedman and Auden Schendler

Basalt

Letter: Glenwood snow removal is wanting

December 8, 2014 — 

To describe the pedestrian walking conditions within the city of Glenwood Springs as treacherous would be an understatement. Folks who have lived through many winters here have told me that snow removal has never been better in town and often is terrible.

May I suggest one or two ideas for local implementation?

It is not a new idea, but in the ’60s Indiana towns set up snow routes, major motoring arteries where drivers could not park until the local street department cleared all snow from the centerline to the curbs.

Removing all snow that could melt, then at night freeze into icy hazards.

Require land owners to shovel their sidewalks daily. More merchants should follow the good examples of First Bank, the Bank of Colorado and Vectra Bank. Some homeowners are doing their best, and others seem to be vagrants.

Enable pedestrians better walkways across main streets. For instance, Grand Avenue is hazardous to walk on within markings. Additionally, the streetlights cause pedestrians to wait several minutes in inclement weather to cross east and west on Grand. Go figure.

It starts at the top. The City Council is culpable. The leading managers of the street department need to plan, schedule and re-evaluate their procedures. If necessary, hire plowing contractors to remove snow, ice and other hazards for vehicles and walkers. Amen.

David “Blue Shoes Buck” Dailey

Glenwood Springs

Letter: An alternative to the ‘monster’ bridge

December 8, 2014 — 

With 65 years of life experience, 38 of them living in Glenwood Springs, I decided to give my opinion on the bridge replacement. Everybody seems to agree that the new bridge will do nothing to alleviate the traffic clog through Glenwood. While the super speedway off ramp and “monster” bridge may be engineering marvels and would be wonderful at any number of places on the Front Range, the majority of people I’ve talked to agree that it is totally out of place with the character of Glenwood. The only thing that I see this proposed bridge will accomplish is letting traffic reach a higher terminal speed by the time vehicles get to the Eighth Street crossing downtown and stroke the egos of the engineers who designed it. Oh, and burn through money that CDOT says it doesn’t have enough of.

So, here is the Stanley Trulock theory on bridge replacement: Design a bridge that looks like the current one, has the same alignment and is four lanes wide. Get rid of the tin sidewalk that’s currently attached to the side of the bridge. We have a perfectly good pedestrian bridge right now.

I’m sure the same engineers who came up with the current bridge design we are told is the preferred option (by whom?) can come up with a way for handicapped and wheeled vehicles to appropriately access it. If CDOT does this, it may be able to stay within its budget and would not have to ask (force) the city and county to help fund a “state highway” project. The city and county could then use the money they were going to give to the state for projects that would really help some of the traffic get through town. The Eighth Street bridge realignment, Midland Avenue improvement and South Bridge come to mind. As an added benefit, maybe the disruption to the downtown businesses and residents won’t be as bad for as long.

Stanley A. Trulock

Glenwood Springs

Letter: Bridge project demands an EIS

December 7, 2014 — 

I’m hoping everyone currently supporting, or opposed to, the proposed CDOT Grand Avenue bridge project read the editorial, “Build a pedestrian bridge over Grand,” published in Dec. 1’s P.I. You couldn’t make a better argument against this project than finally admitting that, in the future, we will need a pedestrian overpass to cross Grand Avenue.

For those of you who haven’t visited Los Angeles, pedestrian overpasses are structures that allow people to cross a highway when it cuts through a town. They are built when there is so much traffic that you cannot safely cross the street. They are built when traffic flow is the priority.

If you have been sitting on the sidelines during this Environment Assessment (EA) review process, let me bring you up to date. Here is the definition of an EA:

An EA as described in Section 1508.9 of CEQ’s NEPA Regulations is a concise public document which has three defined functions:

1. It briefly provides sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an EIS;

2. It aids an agency’s compliance with NEPA when no EIS is necessary, i.e., it helps to identify better alternatives and mitigation measures; and

3. It facilitates preparation of an EIS when one is necessary — Section 1508.9(a).

Please look again at items 2 and 3. If this project was simply replacing the existing Grand Avenue bridge, then an EA would be sufficient. The problem is that this project has morphed from a bridge replacement to a major regional rerouting of traffic off of I-70 onto Highway 82. It reroutes local, state and interstate traffic, condemns private businesses and property and adds to the hardship of an ever-increasing traffic flow in our town. Simply put, for a project of this scale, an EA is deficient and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.

State funds have been approved for improving the Grand Avenue bridge. We keep hearing that if we don’t spend the allocated funds we will lose them. Agreed. Let’s spend this money on the existing Grand Avenue bridge and make it work or demand the EIS.

Ed Rosenberg

Glenwood Springs

Editor’s note: As a point of clarification, the editorial cited discusses the difficulty of crossing Grand Avenue already, not in the future.

Letter: Don’t build a bypass — reduce traffic

December 7, 2014 — 

It is time to stop the runaway and foolhardy obsession with an imaginary bypass in Glenwood Springs.

It is time to instead focus our expertise, sense of place, good will and creativity on actually reducing traffic volume, rather than spreading more of it around.

Even if this community and region could even conceivably secure the billion (with a b) dollars for such a project, and even if a route were available that did not destroy unique natural features and debilitate established neighborhoods, a traffic bypass would be the wrong thing to do — it would not work.

This tired old bypass idea seems to center on the inaccurate and impossible presumption that a bypass would relieve traffic on Grand Avenue. Starting with the long-ago classic work of urban designer Ian McHarg, and repeatedly affirmed in practical experiences since, we know that traffic will always expand to fill the capacity provided.

Building a second highway through Glenwood Springs would just result in two noisy, intrusive highways bisecting this uniquely narrow and integrated town. Grand Avenue would end up just as congested as it is now, compounded by a twin traffic slog just blocks away.

Much wiser, and practical, to put our collective efforts and money into: increasing transportation efficiency; turning away unnecessary, redundant and improperly sized vehicles; and becoming a beacon example of a community that preserves its small-town values.

Much better to preserve and fulfill our self-sense and image as a wonderful place to live and visit than to become “Glenwood Springs, a Great Place to Drive Through.”

A few initial ideas: Consolidate freight loads and deliveries; eliminate partial-load semi-trucks; adjust timing for deliveries; boost car-pooling services; increase neighborly ride-shares to schools; boost public transit; nurture a culture of local travel without cars; aggressively enforce speed limits; control exhaust noise; add traffic-calming installations.

The creativity and imagination abundant in this community and valley can readily expand and refine this list, transforming our public discussion of traffic and livability into making real changes and improvements, rather than just chasing more concrete and pavement.

Steve Smith

Glenwood Springs

Letters to the editor: A full Sunday buffet of readers’ opinions

December 6, 2014 — 

Delay the vote on Sirko’s contract

As a Roaring Fork School District parent, I am extremely concerned that the board is considering a three-year contract extension for Superintendent Diana Sirko. I am further alarmed to learn the board intends to vote on the matter as soon as Dec. 10.

Superintendent Sirko has done a fine job stepping in and stabilizing the district after newly hired Superintendent Rob Stein had to withdraw due to a family emergency. She deserves credit for subsequently bringing Rob Stein on as assistant superintendent and chief academic officer, and we are grateful for her service.

However, may I remind the board that after an exhaustive search fueled by extensive public input, Rob Stein was overwhelmingly the top choice for the superintendent position, and Dr. Sirko was brought in as an interim leader. A contract extension for Dr. Sirko, especially one that stretches three years, would have significant ramifications for the district, including the potential (perhaps likely) loss of the visionary Rob Stein. I urge you to postpone any vote regarding the Roaring Fork School District superintendent contract until such time as the public has the opportunity to become thoroughly informed and weigh in on the matter.

Julie Comins Pickrell

Basalt

CASA makes a difference for children

Every day in this country, 1,900 children become victims of abuse or neglect, and four of them will die. Every day. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of 951 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates — empowered directly by the courts — offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care.

Volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes. For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.

The Ninth Judicial District is fortunate to have a CASA program in place, and we need our community’s support to improve the lives of more than 60 children in our district who have been affected by abuse and neglect. Our board of directors’ goal is to raise funds and awareness to have every case served in our district by 2016.

Please join us at our “CASA at the Grind” fundraiser and community awareness event from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 701 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, to learn more about how you can join our movement and be a part of shaping the lives of some of our at-risk youth. To learn more about CASA of the Ninth and/or this event, please go to our website www.casaoftheninth.org or call us at 970-987-4332.

CASA is one place where a single individual — you — can make all the difference.

Soledad Lowe

Board of directors vice president

CASA of the Ninth

Firefighters brighten children’s day

Thanks to the friendly firemen who were breakfasting at Rosi’s Bavarian on Nov. 30. They took time out of their day to chat with my and my cousin’s kids and give them stickers. The kids loved it.

After breakfast, my 6-year-old daughter insisted we stop by Fire Station No. 2 to say thank you and give the firemen a picture she had colored at the restaurant. Even though it was a weekend and the building was locked up, the friendly fireman saw a sad little girl walking away from the building and asked her if she wanted a tour of where they live and work. My daughter lit up with joy at the invitation and was amazed at all the different trucks and gear, and now I’m afraid I may have a future firefighter on my hands.

Thank you, gentlemen, for the kindness and courtesy you displayed to my daughter and family. It truly brought a lot of joy to a little girl on a Sunday morning.

Mike Henry

Carbondale

Observations on Carbondale’s roundabout sculpture

“Sewing the future”? With cut flowers in vase? (Cut flowers are dead; aren’t they?) With invasive species? Maybe it means we’ll have more and more sculptures. How about a sculpture at every intersection? Wait, it’s an invasion; we have to take down the mother ship.

Are those flowers poppies?

Our future is climate change, by the way. This sculpture will help that how? How about actually growing something there we can eat? What about a giant round aquarium full of trout?

At least it won’t rust. And it is skinny enough to not obstruct the view of other cars chasing around the roundabout or to block our view of Sopris.

This is an example of human nature; keep people in the same room long enough and they come out with crazy ideas they would never have gotten on their own.

This is an example of people who can’t think of better things to do with their money. And, isn’t this another reason to raise the top marginal income tax rate?

Maybe it secretly cancels out cell phone transmissions so people will pay attention to their driving while in the roundabout. Or it is a cleverly disguised Verizon cell phone tower.

The emperor has no clothes.

Much more important: pedestrians have the right of way; be ready to stop.

Patrick Hunter

Carbondale

Bridge is viable; bypass is not, for now

Since I have written several letters about the bridge/alternate route issue, I feel obligated to disclose the conclusion I have reached. It basically boils down to this: The bridge is a tangible plan in the final stages that is funded. The alternate route is a concept that depends on too many variables to consider it a viable prospect in the near future. What swayed me is that if we don’t build this bridge, there is no guarantee that the regional Environmental Impact Statement will ever be initiated, and there is no guarantee that if the study does get done (three years, $10 million, I’ve been told), that we will accept the one recommended route, which leaves us where we are now, no consensus on location or how to pay for it. In other words, no bridge, no alternate route and no time, which is way worse than we are now.

While I strongly believe it is “right” that the EIS should have been done first, facts are that it wasn’t, so based on reality, to me, the “best” solution is to embrace the bridge. “Best” wins over “right.” For those of you who worked so hard to save Grand Avenue, thank you. It is a worthy cause and a valiant fight. And thanks to everyone who patiently answered my queries. But, in the end, I have to be for the bridge.

Tragically, I think the core of the issue is that the era of the quaint, small town might be over, gone with the horse and buggy. Growing traffic challenges are only going to get worse and we simply aren’t a small town anymore. We never will be again. But, with good planning, that doesn’t mean Glenwood will lose its charm or livability. On Dec. 1, a PI editorial floated an idea worthy of consideration. What we know for sure is that Glenwood will always retain some of that small-town feeling, though in a different way. Change is tough. The next few years will be brutal. But maybe when the bridge is built and it’s over, we’ll wonder what the fuss was all about. I remain hopeful. Anyway, there will always be a lot to love about Glenwood Springs.

Carol Turtle

Glenwood Springs

Guest Opinion Making the best of Grand and downtown

December 5, 2014 — 

The polarizing controversy surrounding the replacement of the Grand Avenue bridge has diverted attention from much progress that has been made specific to the bridge project as well as other improvements to Glenwood’s downtown. These efforts warrant praise and need to continue for Glenwood to achieve its great potential.

First, some basic conclusions regarding the bridge replacement. We live in a very tight valley. Many past efforts have failed to produce a politically viable and funded bypass. These two basic prerequisites for a project of this scope (political consensus and funding) are nowhere near present today, nor do they appear possible in the foreseeable future.

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the City Council and many individual citizens are to be commended for their diligent efforts in working with CDOT on the design details of the replacement bridge to make the new bridge and related projects best meet city objectives. Included in this package is a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge that is sensitive to city values. It is critical that all the amenities in this bridge package be funded and built.

The resultant high volumes of vehicular traffic on Grand Avenue are far higher than ideal for Glenwood’s main street. However, the solution is not to view Grand Avenue as a high-speed highway such as in Basalt or El Jebel. Pedestrian bridges or tunnels are not the answer in a town setting such as ours.

Experience shows that pedestrians far prefer to cross at grade. Rather, the solution is to have the highway behave as a city street as it passes through Glenwood. Thanks to the efforts of the professional citizens mentioned above, much of this has been accomplished through the development of an Access Control Plan approved by the city and CDOT in the summer of 2013. Stoplights, originally slated for removal, will be retained. On-street parking, which slows traffic, provides parking and creates a buffer for pedestrians, must also be retained.

One remaining critical element to improve the pedestrian experience downtown is sophisticated traffic signal timing on Grand. Greater time must be given to pedestrians crossing Grand, particularly during off-peak vehicular periods. Signal timing can be adjusted for time of day, days of the week and seasons of the year. This will allow for needed vehicular flow during vehicular peak periods while giving pedestrians more time and comfort during off-peak times. This is a low-cost solution that has been implemented in many other cities. CDOT has little motivation to do this since it is primarily in the business of moving vehicles. CDOT needs a push from city officials.

The city and its downtown are, of course, far more than Grand Avenue. Somewhat lost in Grand Avenue issues is the significant progress the DDA and City Council have made downtown. Recent projects include: new downtown parking garages; the new mixed-use building for the library and CMC; and new streetscape improvements on Cooper Avenue and Seventh Street. Significant private investment has followed. This type of high-quality pedestrian environment on Seventh will be a natural for Sixth Street between Laurel and Grand once the new bridge and related improvements are in place.

When the dust settles on the bridge projects, more opportunities await. Through the creation of the Confluence Area Plan and relocation of the sewer plant, the city is poised to reclaim this magnificent area as a place to view the two rivers, live, eat, recreate and generally enjoy our wonderful and improving city.

John Burg is a resident of Glenwood Springs as well as a retired city planner with 40 years of experience in Minneapolis and Sarasota, Florida, in which he was in the lead role of urban design and downtown development.

Letter: Comprehensive compromises needed for tax reform

December 5, 2014 — 

I basically agree with Michael Gorman’s support of a carbon emissions tax in his letter of Nov. 18. Even if the impact of carbon emissions on global warming is not absolutely certain, it is a sufficiently high risk that it is prudent to take action to reduce the emissions. A phased-in tax would be the most effective way of mobilizing market forces to achieve carbon reductions, through some combination of conservation measures and development of alternate energy sources with private capital investments. Those alternate sources would, to a degree, include natural gas as a less environmentally damaging substitute for coal, because burning natural gas produces more energy per unit of carbon dioxide that it emits. Development of new nuclear power plants would also be encouraged.

To ever be politically viable, however, a carbon emissions would need to be coupled with a reduction in other taxes. If it were possible to overcome conservatives’ justifiable fears that liberals would simply use all of the revenues from the tax to increase social spending, many would buy into a reduction in the tax on corporate profits.

And many people across the political spectrum would support a reduction in the Social Security and Medicare taxes on low-income earners, with some of the revenues from the carbon tax being used to supplement the trust funds for those programs. If there is ever to be meaningful tax reform, it will need to be based on comprehensive compromises such as this that address some of the major concerns of people on both sides of the political divide.

Letter: Sick of CDOT whining and applauding itself

December 5, 2014 — 

For those of you evidently amazed with the comments made on the environmental impact meeting — you have simply not been listening. Those of you who allude to Citizens to Save Grand Avenue “stuffing” anything — thanks for the laugh — there is a back story, but simply — just didn’t happen. There were old and new voices repeating the same things that have been stated to deaf ears. Insulted that there were people speaking who were not informed? Maybe they didn’t agree to drink CDOT Kool-Aid, but does that make them uninformed? I am also totally frustrated that no CDOT representative ever was asked to stop talking at 3 minutes. The meeting demanded by citizens at the community center pictured as a CDOT meeting — CDOT droned on and on, once again hijacking time meant for citizens to express opinions.

This project is a regional project and will have consequences to this area for a damn sight more than 3 minutes.

What a bright idea — to have a regional transportation planning group. I and others have been saying that for years. In fact, there was agreement (including from City Council members present) at the Peppo Nino meeting that such a group would be formed. Never happened despite the fact that many really brilliant community members stepped up. The bridge only turned into a “regional” bridge very recently when CDOT claimed to need money.

As for the bypass, who knows whether there is money or not? No plan therefore no dollar estimates. No plan because there is no council with political will to begin this conversation named as a solution in several city “studies.”

I am sick that CDOT applauds itself in regard to a 20-mile passage through Glenwood Canyon and then whines about not being able to figure this 4-mile bypass out. Oh, poor CDOT — yet another complete misstatement — hurt Joe Elsen and CDOT? No.

It is about demanding a solution to the real problem. Many of those who are speaking are not against a bridge, but this bridge, this CDOT project that is not Glenwood’s community project. Give me a break.

Letter: Essex is worst editor PI has ever had

December 4, 2014 — 

Re: Ron Kokish letter to the editor Nov. 30. I agree with everything he said. The fact of the matter is that Randy Essex is the worst editor the paper has ever had. It’s not an open forum for opinions but cherry picked by Essex for what he wants to hear. Don’t read the Post Independent much anymore.

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