This is a response to Mayor Matt Steckler's "My Side" column of Jan. 28.
First I would like to correct a couple of errors in his column. The advertisement in the Jan. 23 Post Independent was an independent effort by Gregory Durrett, and the name of our organization is "Citizens to Save Grand Avenue," not "Take Back Grand Avenue."
Mayor Steckler opines that the Grand Avenue bridge project will "have a tremendous potential to drive better downtown pedestrian access, vitality and livability, all of which has the potential to lead to a significant and sustained economic growth."
The Access Control Plan, which will be a future consequence of the bridge project, will have quite the opposite effect. Its purpose is to assure priority to Highway 82 through traffic over local residential and tourist traffic and pedestrians, by imposing closures of Grand Avenue intersections to both pedestrians and crossing traffic, eliminating left turns onto and off of Grand Avenue, and restricting access to a number of Grand Avenue businesses.
Mayor Steckler also casts an innuendo against anyone opposing the project by asking them to "state exactly what their personal and financial interests are in maintaining the status quo."
The mission of our group is to get Highway 82 off Grand Avenue, not to maintain the status quo by keeping it on Grand Avenue. The sole interest of the hundreds of our members (many of whom also have the legitimate concern of trying to save their businesses) is the future economic well-being of our entire community, which this project threatens.
Perhaps we should be asking the mayor's question of those who are pushing so hard for the project.
Mayor Steckler also writes, "I find current traffic and pedestrian flow conditions on Grand Avenue in our downtown core unacceptable," and that an alternate route "would impact our community in a much greater way than this bridge and changes to Grand Avenue access." It definitely would, all for the better, by saving Grand Avenue as our downtown business center. Maybe the mayor should be a member of our organization.
In his Feb. 1 letter, Steven Elmore suggests the government stop all federal grants. Those grants put people to work. Without them, millions of jobs would be lost, which means billions of tax dollars would not be going into the federal budget.
Case in point: My husband is one of those benefiting from a federal grant to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA). He was laid off for two years until the Obama administration granted funding to upgrade the rapid-transit system.
Being from Rifle, Mr. Elmore might not have seen the building of stations and park-and-ride lots throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Contracts for paving, steel, glass, electrical, landscaping, etc. were awarded from that federal grant. Our tax dollars are being spent to put people to work. And all of those people can now pay their taxes instead of collecting unemployment.
Elmore also proposes cutting funds to energy and education. Energy funding creates jobs too, and propels us into a more self-sufficient future. Teacher's salaries are already low, educational materials too costly, and sports, music, and other edifying programs have been cut from schools.
Elmore cites low test scores as proof that our educational system doesn't deserve funding. But test scores were much higher before federal funds were slashed. So how is slashing them further going to improve our children's performance? Poor education leads to poor opportunities and poor people.
Oh, but God forbid we cut the defense budget. This is the most bloated part of the federal budget. While the military-industrial complex does provide Americans with jobs, it's been proven time and again to be bilking the taxpayers by overcharging and scamming the system. Why not cut the corruption out of the Pentagon, instead of punishing workers, teachers, students, the elderly, poor and middle class?
And one more thing, to all of you parroting the Fox News talking heads: Obama did not create this deficit. The Democrats did not create this deficit. This was the Republicans' doing, this was the Bush administration's doing. Let's not forget that this administration is trying to fix what the last administration broke.