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Monday letters: Ascendigo, fireworks

In full support of Ascendigo

As parents of a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome, we feel compelled to write in support of Ascendigo Ranch. We know that Ascendigo will welcome our daughter to participate in activities even though she does not have a diagnosis of autism.

Families like ours rely on support and guidance from local organizations, like Ascendigo, as this valley is still lacking in resources for families such as ours. Ascendigo has an opportunity to strengthen our community and bring people together even more by building this educational ranch. That is the hope, really, that our daughter and others who may be different can find a place in our community where they can contribute meaningfully, find friends and be happy.

Amid some questionable arguments about the true nature of Ascendigo as an organization, and well-meaning but unwittingly ableist concerns about the participants’ ability to evacuate in the event of wildfire, every single opponent has praised the value of Ascendigo’s program and the importance of providing such services in our valley … just not in their backyard.

At the heart of the opposition to this project is the fear of a loss of the quiet rural feel of Missouri Heights that drew the neighbors to move to this area. If you talk to the ranchers who have lived on Missouri Heights forever, they feel the same way about all of the opponents’ “ranchettes” that have sprung up over the past 30 years.

The cluster design of the buildings leaves the majority of the 126 acres undeveloped, maintaining the rural feel so much better than 21 homes evenly spaced would (we suspect the resident wildlife would strongly agree). We firmly believe that once completed, neighbors will grow to appreciate the way Ascendigo Ranch will actually protect the rural feel of Missouri Heights and feel proud to have a facility in their community that allows people differently abled from them to experience the enrichment and joy of adventures in nature that the majority of us take for granted.

We fully support Ascendigo Ranch and encourage the Board of County Commissioners to approve this resource.

Deborah and Julian Hardaker

Glenwood Springs

Wrong area for camp

I have lived in the valley for 40 years, 16 of those years in Missouri Heights.

I have a daughter with profound autism. She is 30 years old and still lives at home with me and my husband. We both work multiple jobs while being her primary caregiver(s). I know about disabilities and the challenges they bring. I know about the importance of services for our children and adults with disabilities.

Though we have never received services from Ascendigo, I appreciate what they offer and the population they serve. While a summer camp for autistic children and/or adults sounds amazing, it doesn’t belong in Missouri Heights.

Ascendigo’s proposed development is commercial. It doesn’t belong in a neighborhood. It belongs in an area zoned commercial, in an area with plenty of water, quick access to emergency services and especially in an area with roads that can accommodate the amount of traffic that their development will bring. Missouri Heights is not that place.

GarCo, please keep Missouri Heights rural.

Gwen Carew

Missouri Heights

Water is the issue

(This letter was originally addressed to the Garfield Board of County Commissioners.)

Ascendigo’s services are valuable, no doubt, and my compliments regarding their organization. Ascendigo represents a needed resource for the less fortunate among us.

White Cloud on Missouri Heights is not the right property for their large facility.

Our community rose to the occasion in 2008 when developers applied to build a large subdivision on Hunt Ranch, 600-some acres nearby on the north side of County Road 102. They painted a pretty picture but, as with Ascendigo, lacked some understanding of the basic facts governing our environment.

This is high desert. No rushing creeks, no large stands of trees or snow runoff. Missouri Heights is unique in that respect.

As our opposition proceeded, smart leaders took their findings to Colorado Water Court to challenge the subdivision based on potential water use. A very restrictive decision was issued by the high court and so limited the developer’s proposed land use — they quit.

I have lived in this immediate area since 1980 and been involved in water both domestic and agricultural. After 40 years of dealing with irrigation water, this summer is the first when no irrigation water is available in my neighborhood. Combine that with hearing about failing wells, and the whole dry picture becomes clear.

There is not enough water to support Ascendigo’s facility. Their original plan for a 2-acre lake says a lot; the proponents don’t have a clue about how scarce the water picture is on Missouri Heights. They own water rights but apparently didn’t get the part about that never being a guarantee water will flow from the tap.

Commissioners, please see here that a precedent has been set by Hunt Ranch opposition over a decade ago, a decade of rising temperatures and increasing drought. Water is scarcer on Missouri Heights now than 2008. No one anticipates this scarcity ending anytime soon. Don’t allow your constituents’ taps to run dry.

Vote no.

Susan Cuseo

Missouri Heights

Ban fireworks sales

The Garfield County commissioners’ ban on fireworks through July 5, while still allowing the sale of fireworks, looks like a “wink wink” to me.

I would love to hear the logic behind that convoluted ruling. Our fire risk could hardly be higher. The notion that those knuckleheads buying fireworks aren’t going to use them is naive at best, suspicious and dangerous at worst.

Loran Randles

New Castle

 

Friday letters: Planning and Zoning Commission, anything is possible, highway construction, and fireworks sales

Apply for P&Z Commission

The city of Glenwood Spring Comprehensive Plan states that “Communities evolve over time. Glenwood Springs is different today than it was 20 years ago and different than it will be 20 years into the future.”

While there are many groups and factors that influence this evolution, the recommendations from the city’s advisory boards and commissions play an important part in guiding this progression. There are several opportunities to participate in these groups, and I encourage anyone with an interest to consider applying to volunteer.

One of these groups, the Planning and Zoning Commission, has a uniquely essential role in guiding our city’s growth. In total, nine Glenwood Springs residents (seven commissioners and two alternates) comprise this critical, quasi-judicial group which is responsible for reviewing and providing recommendations to City Council regarding zoning, annexations, large public and private projects and other activities that involve long-range planning. This commission also makes decisions on certain development proposals.

Right now, you can apply to fill a vacancy on this commission for one of the alternate seats with a term to expire February 2022. The commission meets one or two times per month with regular meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

This opportunity is an excellent way to get involved in the community and your local government and help shape the future of Glenwood Springs. Community members who serve on this commission provide an invaluable service by advising City Council and city staff with developing recommendations on important policy matters.

While serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission can be very challenging, it is also incredibly important and a rewarding way to serve your community. Volunteers shape our community by thoughtful implementation of our Comprehensive Plan and ensure that development considers the needs of Glenwood Springs’ both current and future residents.

You, too, can make a difference and help shape our community. Applications for all boards and commissions are available online at CoGS.us/volunteer. Applications submitted will be reviewed by city councilors. For additional information, please contact Sara Weigel at 970-384-6449 or sara.weigel@cogs.us.

Jonathan Godes

mayor, Glenwood Springs

Learning from one’s challenges

I am Deatra. I was born and raised in Rifle. I went to school at Rifle High School. I am a current student at Colorado Mountain College preparing for nursing school. I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos syndrome. 

My life flipped upside down when I turned 17. I began to faint almost every day, had multiple feeding tube surgeries and have been poked by a needle more than 100 times. I lost all my will to live. 

I began slowly volunteering for rare disease organizations, made care packages for others with chronic illness and started college. I was one of four accepted to participate in a 10-week internship at MUSC in South Carolina, to study Ehlers Danlos syndrome. The very disease that ruined my life was now bringing me passion and drive, it was now bringing me opportunities that I never thought possible. 

A small town girl from Rifle, Colorado, was staying in Charleston, S.C., to study her own disease, and making a difference in medicine. I hope that if this letter does anything, it can prove that anything is possible, even with an illness. Growing up in a small town can still bring you to do big things.

Deatra Bear

Silt

Highway construction advice

To the CDOT Interstate 70 Glenwood Canyon schedulers and planners:

I am a commuter. I have commuted from the Roaring Fork Valley to Eagle County for 32 years. I was around when the original work was being completed, sat for hours while work was being done. And I read the papers when they announced that I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was open. 

Problem is, they either never completed construction or the work they completed was deficient. 

When one considers how often the canyon is under maintenance or re-construction because a boulder went through the concrete deck or a semi crashed, did CDOT make the right decision to put I-70 along the river? Most engineers said to keep it out of the river bottom, there will always be issues, but CDOT went with the river road. And now we pay for it yearly.

The past few days have truly shined a light on who’s on first. There are so many projects in the canyon we have traffic cones on top of traffic cones; multiple construction zones. Problem is: No one is working in these areas. 

The road was down to one lane from Hanging Lake Tunnel to No Name this past week. Last night there were two traffic control vehicles sitting in the closed lanes and not one single person working. That’s eight miles of closure with no one working. There were three guys painting on Friday, but they certainly didn’t need eight miles of lane closure to paint a 300-foot chain retaining device. This could have been a rolling closure and kept to a minimum.

And why doesn’t CDOT take into account the commuters and vacationing public? Start work in the EB lanes at 8 a.m., off the highway at 4. WB construction should be 6 a.m. start, off the highway at 2:30. 

Instead of washing the tunnels during the day, do it at night. You have better light and less traffic. And get off the highway by noon on Fridays.

Dave Little

New Castle

Ban fireworks sales

I commend the Garfield County commissioners’ decision to ban fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday. However, unless there is a legal constraint preventing them from banning the sale of fireworks, it is beyond my comprehension why this action was not also taken.

Pam Szedelyi

Glenwood Springs

Wednesday letters: Cost of poll, common sense about Ascendigo, and time for Ascendigo opponents to be heard

Hershey’s take on polling

The majority of the Glenwood Springs Council seems intent on wasting your money. The initial bill from a firm in Utah for a “poll” to find out what we think is $17,500. And that is just to create the poll; executing it will cost thousands more wasted dollars.

And what do you get for your money — money we could use to fix our failing infrastructure? A glorified “push poll” to try to convince you to increase our sales taxes and make ours among the highest sales taxes in the state. 

I recommend everyone ignore this process. We voted against a sales tax to fix our streets as recently as 2019, and then 2020 happened. To request a new tax now is not only unwise, it is bound to fail.

I am, and have always been, a supporter of the city of Glenwood focusing its resources on infrastructure, not beautification at Seventh Street and other places.  

In response to Mr. Kirch’s letter on June 7, I have consistently opposed spending millions of dollars on new park and beautification projects, including a major reduction in the Sixth Street roundabout price, so resources, for now, can be focused on needs, not wants — i.e. to fix our streets. And the last time I checked, Mr. Kirch, bridges and tunnels are infrastructure, but I could be wrong.

I will continue to fight for responsible government and spending of our tax dollars on fixing our streets (which includes an aging water and sewer system under those streets).  

If the voters disagree — and they just elected me and voted against a new street tax two years ago — then they get to vote for new council members or for more taxes. 

That is the only “poll” that matters, and it does not cost an extra $30,000 of your money.

Tony Hershey 

City Council member, Glenwood Springs

Common sense

Missouri Heights is not the right location for the Ascendigo project, and I believe most people know that, and it is just plain common sense. 

I have lived in Missouri Heights for almost two decades. This is not about the good things that the Ascendigo organization does for many people and how they have helped many people. 

This is about the location they have chosen for their intended project. 

First of all, how can Ascendigo be allowed to build their project in a zoned rural residential area? It doesn’t make sense. And secondly, why would they want to build their project in an area that is completely challenged? These challenges that have already been stated and restated: Water, fire, wildlife, wind, traffic and more are a reality to the people of Missouri Heights, and we live and learn to deal with them year after year. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Common sense tells me that they can’t find any other place for this project, and they have now targeted Missouri Heights. 

Common sense tells me that we are in the 2020 decade, meaning that it is time for everyone to put their 20/20 vision on and let the government know that “We the People” are making a stand. 

Missouri Heights is not the right location for the Ascendigo project, and it is just plain common sense.

Julie Hazard

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

Raise your voices

It’s time for Missouri Heights residents to make their voices heard on the Ascendigo change in land use application. It is rare that individuals can play a critical role in the future where we live. We now have that opportunity at 1 p.m. June 21 before the Garfield Board of County Commissioners when the commissioners will consider the Ascendigo land use change application. 

Much has been written about this land use application in the past six months and its negative impact on Missouri Heights residents and the future of land use in Missouri Heights. Should the application be approved, it will change the character of Missouri Heights from a rural, residential, agricultural and ranching community to that of commercial development. 

No matter how Ascendigo wishes to characterize its operation, it is clearly commercial. There are other organizations and developers closely watching this application, ready to begin development if Garfield County opens the door by approving the Ascendigo application. We know of organizations who have already approached development professionals to assist them in locating similar types of overnight lodging and dining facilities in Missouri Heights. This is not a scare tactic, this is reality. 

Missouri Heights has been protected from such development by the Eagle County Mid-Valley Area Community Plan Missouri Heights Character Area and protected in Garfield County by the Garfield County Comprehensive Plan 2030 Future Land Use Plan. 

Approval of this development will open the floodgates of development in an area that is zoned residential, rural and the home to over 600 signers of a petition to stop the project.

Show up at the hearing and let the Garfield County Commissioners know that they are accountable for upholding the principles expressed in their own county plan.
For more information, please log onto KeepMoHRural.com.

Karen Moculeski

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

Monday letters: equity, Take a Minute, Hubbard cleanup thanks, wildfire mitigation thanks, watering restrictions

Refreshing perspective

Ms. Sturm’s opinion piece (June 7 Post Independent) was a refreshingly honest look at the term equity. We believe all are created equal but none identical. All are unique, and our outcomes are shaped by genetics and environment. The latter, our home upbringing, is the most important, as that’s where values and moral tenets are learned.

Unfortunately, today’s economic/social structure has altered the family dynamic. Now, both parents must work, often multiple jobs, while single parents face twice the challenge. The sad result is parenting responsibility has been unfairly foisted upon teachers. If learning isn’t stressed in the home, how can it be taught in school?

Can we achieve equal opportunity if inner city schools “graduate” students who can’t do the three Rs of education? If Johnny can’t read, will he find a job or join a gang?

Critical Race Theory, the 1619 project and like woke witlessness indoctrinate our children to a culture of victimhood. It teaches that our race limits or improves our life’s potential. This is untrue and un-American.

Racist generalizations only divide us; teaching truth will heal us.

Good luck, teachers.

Bruno Kirchenwitz

Rifle

Support Take a Minute

I support the Take A Minute campaign in Glenwood Springs. While driving in Glenwood on Grand Avenue I noticed how fast cars were going in a 25-mph zone, and I was getting caught up with the speeding traffic.

I tried an experiment and turned on my cruise control set to 25 mph. I was blown away with how really fast cars were going in a pedestrian and tourist area.

Won’t you consider supporting this important effort to slow down traffic and take an extra minute while you drive through downtown Glenwood?

Laura Hanssen

Carbondale

Hubbard cleanup thanks

I want to express my sincere gratitude to all who volunteered and supported our annual cleanup of BLM-managed public lands on Hubbard Mesa. Over 40 volunteers graciously gave their time and hard work to remove over 60 cubic yards of garbage and over 25 cubic yards of metal to be recycled from public lands, just north of Rifle.

I want to personally thank the White River Trail Runners, High Country 4-Wheelers, Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization, the city of Rifle, Garfield County, Rifle Rendezvous, and the many individual volunteers from our local community that came out to help. Your hard work and dedication continue to make a tremendous difference in your public lands.

I would also like to recognize Green Zone Recycling and Native Waste Solutions for their valuable sponsorship, providing dumpsters and disposal costs.

In addition to this effort, I would like to thank the 93 students and staff from the Rifle High School Athletics Department who helped with a cleanup near Fravert Reservoir this spring.

Finally, I want to thank the entire community of recreationists that use and enjoy this area. Your voice and efforts in keeping your public lands in Rifle’s backyard clean, as well as your responsible recreation, keeps these lands and resources enjoyable for current and future generations. The effort and cooperation from everyone go a long way in the success of your public lands.

Larry Sandoval

field manager,

BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office

Silt

Wildfire mitigation thanks

On behalf of Swiss Village subdivision near Redstone, we extend heartfelt gratitude for the collaborative efforts of Pitkin County Emergency Manager Valerie Macdonald, Carbondale Fire Department Chief Goodwin and USFS manager Kevin Warner on a recent wildfire mitigation project near us.

Despite our best efforts at mitigating within our neighborhood, the reality is we are surrounded by forested public land. USFS land to our north (the project) was densely packed with aging and dead scrub oak, and contained a huge amount of standing fuel. If it burned, our neighborhood would burn.

Our neighborhood used to be mostly summer cabins. Now, homes are selling in the $600,000-plus range, and most are occupied year-round, many with small children. The property damage and potential loss of life in a wildfire is now much greater than in decades past.

It is a privilege to live surrounded by so much natural beauty, and we recognize the biggest threat we face to our homes and lives is wildfire. We greatly appreciate these three entities (Pitkin County, CFD and USFS) working together to help protect us if/when wildfire strikes.

Now that fire season has arrived, it’s a relief to know that the forest next to us is much less of a hazard. The more mitigation projects that can be done near neighborhoods like ours, the better prepared we all are for the inevitable.

Thank you for being on the cutting edge of collaborative effort, climate responsibility and forest management.

Diane Madigan, SVHOA secretary

Jon Amdur, SVHOA president

Redstone

City should practice same watering rules

Please practice what you suggest others to do. The citizens of Glenwood Springs were recently advised by the city of Glenwood Springs to take measures and suggestions for water conservation. This information was recently mailed out. Our water bills starting June 1 went up by 30% to offset costs from the Grizzly Creek Fire.

I am not excited about the rate increase, but I do understand this probably needs to happen, and I am all on board with more water conservation on everyone’s part, including the city.

One of the suggestions is to water early in the morning around 6-8 a.m., which I always do and believe is the most effective and efficient way to water. As I was driving down Midland Avenue passing the Community Center, the sprinklers were running. It was 4:30 in the afternoon.

Now, I’m not a landscaper or a horticulturist, but I’m guessing it is still pretty darn hot to be watering anything at that time. This is not the first time I have seen city properties watering in the hot temperatures of the afternoons.

The suggestions you make are really good ones, and the city especially needs to lead by example, so please do so.

Patty Grace

Glenwood Springs

 

Friday letters: Pandemic response, West Glenwood development, and fire bans

What went wrong?

We need to figure out what went wrong with our pandemic response.

After having lost 40 of our loved ones in Garfield County and at least 591,000 Americans to this pandemic, it is imperative that we take stock in what happened.

From the beginning, the crisis has been tainted with politics, and some people lost their sense of compassion and solidarity toward their fellow citizens. Instead of mounting a united attack to overcome this plague through sacrifice and caring about one another like in World War II or 9/11, we allowed the former president to turn us against each other.

The federal government abdicated its responsibility and forced 50 separate entities to handle the problem, then gave no support to their efforts to contain the spread. On the contrary, essential measures like mask use and lockdowns were ridiculed, and the federal government competed with states to obtain critical resources. Locally, our sheriff and a county commissioner held a rally to mock mask use. The protests against any type of individual sacrifice became super-spreader events.

One laudable action by the last administration was the massive vaccine production success. But now, many Republican states and individuals are refusing to get vaccinated. A recent poll showed that 43% of GOP respondents said they’ll never get the vaccine, versus 5% of Democrats. That attitude will sabotage our efforts to reach herd immunity, which will prolong this nightmare. In the hyperpartisan environment that we are now living, everything, including saving lives, has to be turned into an us-versus-them fight. I just hope we can return to the values we once cherished and those who are refusing vaccinations on political lines can reconsider, for the good of everyone, including themselves and their families.

Finally, I sincerely believe that an investigative commission needs to be appointed to determine what went wrong in our pandemic response so it can never happen again.

Jerry Krebs

Glenwood Springs

Low ball developer estimates

Responding to article about Glenwood’s Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation against the West Glenwood annexation and development: Rosenberg’s offer of $40,000 to “kick off a fire evacuation study” because the commission unanimously cited wildfire danger as a primary objection is commendable, but you don’t begin to study remedies to a current problem after you undertake a project that will significantly worsen the problem.

Geography and geology have stymied efforts to provide safe egress from West Glenwood in emergencies, while population growth has compounded the dangers. If a study costs $40,000 to start, how much would it cost, and how long would it take to finish it? And then how much would it cost to implement the solutions, and how long would it take, and who would pay?

Rosenberg’s assurance that the project’s management would restrict occupancy to under 600 is laughable. How would you do that? Basic arithmetic shows that with minimum unit occupancy, you’d have at least 769 residents. What do people do when housing is in short supply and expensive? They cram into smaller spaces. A more honest assessment would project occupancy closer to Lacy King’s estimate of 1,000.

The study of increased “trips” is pretty meaningless. It accounts only for commutes to work. And the extra trips made in emergencies to rescue pets, elderly or disabled housemates, and by caregivers before attempting to evacuate — well, that is how we had car traffic absolutely immobilized for many hours last summer after a fire that was out in just a couple of hours.

Carrying capacity for a neighborhood has to be determined using data about how people actually live and act in predictable situations, normal and emergency. We learned last summer that we are over that number now. Yes, we do need housing. But some locations are better than others. 

And for an example of the right way to address this need, look no further than the example of what Aspen Skiing Co. is doing, in the same PI edition. We need to review our outdated zoning laws and build for the requirements of a future constrained by climate change.

Laurie Raymond

Glenwood Springs

Fire bans a no-brainer

I’m having trouble understanding why the “fire and firework ban” even has to be a question every year in Garfield County. In recent years, the severe drought has not gone away. Each spring brings us little rain and strong winds.

Winters see much less snow than in the past, thus little snow to melt off when it warms up. Seems like a no-brainer to prohibit outdoor burning and certainly no fireworks after June 1, and extend the ban until we start getting some moisture in the fall. 

I have no sympathy for the “fireworks vendors” — there are plenty of other places in this vast country to sell their wares that get plenty of rain. I know I risk sounding “un-American” when I speak of a July 4 without fireworks, but really, what is more important, a fun celebration or keeping our homes and properties safe and the air fit to breathe? 

The fire ban should be put in place now, and there should be no fireworks of any kind sold in our local stores. Our firefighters work hard — why make their job even harder and risk our beautiful area by starting wildfires?

K. Jocelyn

New Castle

Wednesday letters: Valley Health Alliance, and not a local plane

Valley Health Alliance works

The locally based Valley Health Alliance appreciates the thought and effort that Coloradans of all stripes are putting into lower health care costs for all of us. The state Legislature is on the cusp of finalizing a new law that will lower health insurance premiums by a minimum of 15% over the next three years. There are also organizations that have helped individual communities lower health care costs on the Front Range, in the mountains and in southwest Colorado. 

Closer to home, the Valley Health Alliance has made strides to improve our health care outcomes and lower health insurance costs. The Valley Health Alliance is composed of local employers and health care providers in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties. Another one of our priorities is to ensure we all have access to the care we need and expect in the Parachute-to-Aspen region. We are working for you right here, right now.

Specifically, the Valley Health Alliance worked to bring Rocky Mountain Health Plans into the individual health insurance market and UnitedHealthcare into the small group market for 2021. It’s the first time since 2017 that individuals and businesses here have had a choice of insurance carriers. As a result, health insurance costs are lower. Some plans offered on the individual exchange by Rocky Mountain Health Plans are more than 10% below those offered by longtime carrier Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

The Valley Health Alliance is continuing its work now to help lower health care costs in 2022. Please visit our website, OurVHA.org to learn more.

Chris McDowell, 

executive director, 

Valley Health Alliance

Carbondale

Not a local plane

Recently there was a letter to the editor by Philip Maass (June 2) regarding an impolite pilot flying over the Elk Springs Subdivision and doing aerobatics. I reached out to Mr. Maass to explain that there is no plane located at the Glenwood Springs Airport capable of doing the loops he described. The plane is thought to be out of the Eagle-Vail area. 

A knowledgeable local witnessed the airshow and said the plane was an “Extra 300” and, though loud, never flew below the legal FAA limits. That particular plane, made in Germany, is a highly capable, competition aerobatic plane. 

The Glenwood Springs Airport is a tremendous asset enjoyed by thousands. Two of the past three years the airport has served as a base for critical firefighting operations. Classic Air Ambulance operates out of the airport, and the local pilot community works hard at being respectful and neighborly. 

I will try and reach out to the pilot and explain that, although permissible, we would request that he practice these maneuvers somewhere else. This courtesy would be greatly appreciated by the local pilot community and definitely by some of the Elk Springs residents.

Eric Strautman

Glenwood Springs

Monday letters: Ascendigo, Hershey

Development option worse

(This letter was originally addressed to the Garfield County commissioners.)

Ascendigo Autism services is proposing to develop a property on Missouri Heights for a permanent program and housing facility. That property is a beautiful and desirable location and is destined for development. As it is platted now, it will have more square feet in single-family homes, leading to traffic equal or greater than this facility might create.

Outdoor lighting from residential development is sure to exceed Ascendigo’s proposed lighting. Ascendigo’s proposal is the best option for that property.

The buildings will be energy efficient, going beyond required codes, and the project will be an environmentally exemplary development, because they have already committed to working toward net-zero buildings.

Another positive aspect is that those buildings will be grouped together, leaving a large portion of the land undeveloped to continue to keep open space for wildlife. The proposed small pond should be attractive and beneficial to birds and other animals.

This project will also be an example for other facilities that may be developed around the region, state or country that will offer programs and life-development skills to people with autism. Ascendigo is one of the leading programs in the country, and this is another step in continuous innovation for which the organization is known.

I encourage support for Ascendigo’s proposal to develop this property for those reasons.

Mona Newton

Aspen

If not there, where?

Interesting opinion that Karen Moculeski, president of Keep Missouri Heights Rural, submitted in response to Andrea Chacos’ column. Karen’s concern for autistic recreation is commendable; however, there are no positive suggestions for alternative sites. It’s all defensive, and here too, no alternatives, no hard facts.

If weighed side by side according to the 2030 master plan, how would Ascendigo Ranch compare to the developed use of the land as low-density housing? If the collective impact would exceed Ascendigo’s, it could, by her definitions, preclude proposed future build-out.

Unfortunately, her concerns don’t seem sincere because they’re one-sided. Sure, wildfires, winding roads can be considered, but water cannot be made readily available if it’s not on-site. It begs the question if water would be available to future housing.

The bottom line, if people are not receptive, facts don’t matter. This is the issue that looms the largest. Sound familiar?

Fred Stewart

Grand Junction

Counter-counterpoint

A few things occurred to me while reading Tony Hershey’s “counterpoint” in the May 12 edition.

I understand that spending money on a community survey seems frivolous to Mr. Hershey, but to those of us not gifted with omniscience, it seems like the most objective way to determine the citizens’ priorities.

If fixing potholes and basic infrastructure are Mr. Hershey’s top priorities, I don’t understand why he voted in favor of spending $6 million on a tunnel to preserve a runway used by only a handful of Glenwood Springs residents, while at the same time he voted against the entire 2021 streets maintenance budget.

Mr. Hershey says he’s very much against frivolous “beautification” projects, yet, as I recall, he voted in favor of spending $800,000 to landscape the new exit 116 roundabout. I, for one, would be curious to know whether this was a higher priority to Glenwood Springs residents than funding the Parks Department or keeping the Rec Center open, both of which Mr. Hershey has opposed.

I would be interested in hearing Mr. Hershey’s explanation for how the votes he’s taken fit into his stated priorities.

Personally, I’m experiencing some cognitive dissonance trying to make sense of them.

Mark Kirch

Glenwood Springs

 

Friday letters: Glenwood development, no Peak Health, Boebert perspectives, and the filibuster

Housing plan too much

I have lived in Glenwood Springs for over 30 years. Sometimes I think we forget we live in a very confined canyon. To the west is South Canyon and to the east is Glenwood Canyon, and we all know what issues those present: fires, accidents, road closures due to weather, etc. 

It is no one’s fault, it is the environment we are presented with. If Interstate 70 was not running through our community maybe we could afford to pack more people in, but let’s face it, we have limited space and limited resources. 

And we need the tourists that I-70 brings us. Sure, we can allow someone from outside our community to come in and build housing and gain the financial benefits from it, but can we support these 600-plus people with water, schools, roads, fire protection, sewer facilities, and on and on? 

How many people can this space hold safely? (Tough questions for the P&Z, thank you for your work on this.)

If you build it they will come; no matter how much you build, they will come. It’s a beautiful and safe place to live, but if you allow so many people to be packed into a finite space there is no quality for anyone and “the beautiful and safe place to live” is no longer a beautiful, safe place.  

Joni McGavock

Glenwood Springs

Peak Health deal fell through

I am very disappointed to let you know that after months of work on behalf of our community, Peak Health Alliance will not be coming to Garfield County in 2022.

We were very successful in recruiting a new insurance carrier whose preliminary rates were indicating at least a 15% premium reduction from what is currently available.

However, Colorado law requires that at least one of the county’s hospitals participate in the carrier’s network to ensure access. Despite initial progress, both hospitals ultimately refused to participate. As such, the status quo prevailed.

This is a very sad outcome for Garfield County.

On behalf of the Garfield Board of County Commissioners and Peak Health Alliance, I appreciate your support of our efforts to improve and lower health insurance premiums. Please let us know if you want to be kept up to date on any further developments.

Tom Jankovsky

Garfield County commissioner

Glenwood Springs

Good Boebert perspectives

Thanks to The Colorado Sun, Post Independent, The Aspen Times, Steamboat Pilot, Vail Daily, Durango Herald and the other Swift-owned newspapers in the 3rd Congressional District for their series of articles on how independent voters view the status of Rep. Lauren Boebert. These articles provide a bird’s-eye view of independent voters in the 3rd Congressional District. 

According to the June 1 article, 84,384 active voters did not cast a vote in this 2020 election or in this race. It also reported that 133,599 voters total, including inactive voters, did not vote in this election or this race. Nationally, there are estimates that over 80 million voters did not vote in the general election of 2020. 

What do these numbers say about the two major parties? The answer is that Americans are forced to vote for candidates from the party voter prison of the Democrats and Republicans. The two major parties control America’s election system. Look at Congress today. The Democrats and Republicans are doing little or nothing to help the American people. There is no $15 an hour minimum wage, no Medicare-for-all, no paid leave, and the list goes on. 

The political gridlock in Washington, D.C., is permanent. We need to change this status quo.

How do we change the status quo? We need independents to run for office. Right now, thousands of American voters are leaving the Democratic and Republican parties. By 2022, both in Colorado and nationally, registered independents could grow to 50%. Nationally, registered independents hit 50% in January. 

With the growing number of registered independents, it would be interesting to see how independent candidates would compete in the 3rd Congressional District as well as the rest of Colorado. Perhaps my proposal for an Independent Voter Caucus in 2022 would give us a clue. 

Randy Fricke

Co-founder, Western Colorado Independent Voters; co-chair, National Election Reform Committee 

New Castle

End the filibuster

Year after year, we see politicians in Congress make promises about what they can do for constituents like me. And year after year, the progress is usually less than we hoped for. 

The solution is clear: It’s time to get rid of the filibuster — a Senate rule that allows a minority of senators to block any piece of legislation. 

Democrats have introduced some great bills that would help a vast majority of Americans. Right now, the Senate is deciding whether to pass the For the People Act, for instance, a big reform bill that addresses everything from making voting more accessible and streamlined to getting rid of corruption in government. But the fate of the For the People Act is uncertain as long as it can be filibustered by senators like Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. 

And that’s only one bill. Imagine all the progress that’s being held up in Congress because the filibuster stands in the way. 

For me, for my community, and for communities like mine all across America, I’m asking senators to do away with the filibuster once and for all.

John Gacnik 

Glenwood Springs

Wednesday letters: Airplane noise, Glenwood Middle School thanks, Holy Cross experience, sane gun laws, live music, distracted driving, and Ascendigo

Fly away

Once again, the peace and quiet of Elk Springs subdivision is disturbed by a low level turbocharged airplane, likely flying out of Glenwood Springs airport. I know it was turbocharged because of the extreme noise it created and how fast the pilot was doing loops. 

This occurred at 10 a.m. and lasted for 20 minutes. Why must the pilots from Glenwood airport choose a populated area to do aerobatics? 

It is not only a nuisance, it is also an extreme fire risk. If the plane were to experience engine failure and go down, it could create a wildland fire that would take significant resources to deal with.

Can’t the Glenwood pilots convince the lone aerobatic hotshot to fly higher and go somewhere else?

Philip Maass

Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs Middle School thanks

A big thank-you to the staff of Glenwood Middle School for an awesome eighth grade graduation parade and drive-thru passage to high school. 

I was lucky to drive with my family and my grandaughter Sophia Williams from the middle school to the high school, and thank you to all the cool people who honked and waved at the parade. 

It was a special event for these great kids and just one more reason I feel so blessed to be part of this community.

Debby O’Leary

Glenwood Springs

Vote Holy Cross experience

There are more candidates than ever in the upcoming mail-in Holy Cross election, which is a sign of the utility’s growing leadership and relevance at the local and national level. 

Indeed, thanks to board vision and phenomenal staff, the utility, a small rural co-op owned by you, the members, has pioneered a new model for reliable, affordable, renewable energy, with a goal of 100% clean power by 2030. 

To get there, we’ll need continued leadership from the board. That’s why I encourage you to vote for Bob Gardner and Kristen Bertuglia and newcomer but longtime green design and clean energy professional Kristen Hartel. Please mail your ballot (which should be in your mailbox) by June 7. 

Dan Richardson

Carbondale

Need sane gun laws

I am excited to have a gun enthusiast as Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District representative. Rep Boebert is in a good position to bring forward policy that regulates lethal weapons, the same way we regulate lethal cars. 

She could change U.S. standing in the world by initiating a procedure of registration and licensing of all 300 million firearms in the country. 

To be licensed — trained and tested in the safety and use of a firearm — as a requisite of ownership, along with the licensing of each firearm, would ensure the nation is on the same page with the use of lethal weapons. 

When I’m driving, I want to know that every person coming at me has the same capability, mindset and rulebook that I do to ensure both our safety; it should be the same with guns. 

Show us your wisdom, Lauren — make our gun laws sane.

John Hoffmann 

Carbondale

Live music again

Last weekend, the High Country Strings presented a wonderful set of concerts in Basalt, Carbondale and Aspen. With the pandemic keeping us alone, hungry for the arts of all kinds and without live music, the first notes were all the sweeter. 

I found myself emotional throughout the concert, not just for the joy of hearing but for the excellent performance, as well. There is a passion each player adds to the ensemble that enriches the whole sound and the audience’s enjoyment. 

I thoroughly loved the music played and their performance. Any time this group performs, I urge everyone to go hear them.

Deborah Barnekow, musician

El Jebel

Concerned by aggressive, distracted driving

I know many of you are frustrated and concerned, even frightened, by the aggressive driving, speeding and texting/phone use we have been experiencing on Interstate 70 and Highway 82. Instead of complaining, let’s contact our state government and tell them we need help. We need the Colorado State Patrol to be better funded so that we can get more officers on the road. We need better speed limit enforcement with higher fines. Please join me in writing to Rep. Perry Will, Sen. Bob Rankin and Gov. Jared Polis respectfully requesting that they do something about this situation. Our lives are being disrupted, and our safety is in jeopardy. 

Ginny Badger

Parachute

Wrong place for Ascendigo

Two things never surprise me while reading a letter supporting the proposed Ascendigo corporate development in Missouri Heights: The writers of the letters do not live in Missouri Heights, and they never get their facts straight. 

Not living in Missouri Heights is excusable, since 70% of all Ascendigo clients come from out of state. Not getting their facts straight should concern them as much as it does us. Ascendigo keeps changing its story. 

First, they said there would be an additional 400-plus cars added to our dirt roads, then 220, then 210 and then they realized last week they must do a county road survey all over again because their traffic numbers are not correct. 

They are not an “educational facility” — those words do not appear anywhere on their website. They proudly claim to be a recreational camp with “campers.” According to CEO Peter Bell, the education misnomer was added by Garfield County planners trying to shoehorn Ascendigo into a category that wasn’t a corporate commercial business. 

The claim to have a “robust fire management” program based on past fire evacuation experience is frightening. Granted, they had a small group during COVID-19 to evacuate from Colorado Mountain College with the Grizzly Creek Fire, but they had hours to do so. Up here in Missouri Heights, neighbors had minutes to leave their homes in the middle of the night with the Lake Christine Fire. Their water person admitted their robust fire mitigation program plan is sprinklers located inside the buildings. Good luck getting kids and horses out of the burning fields driven by 40- to 60-mph winds with only one road in and the same road out. If I were the parent of an autistic child, I’d be thinking really hard about that factoid. 

Ascendigo’s extra water rights to use irrigation water to supplement fire protection is now a fairy tale. Due to the 21-year drought, there will be no extra irrigation water for Ascendigo to use this year and probably many more to come. 

Commendable idea? Yes! It’s just the wrong place for it. “It’s as simple as that” say 576 neighbors living up here. We know Missouri Heights, … sadly, Ascendigo does not.

David Aguilar

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

Bell using deception

After reading Peter Bell’s guest column (May 26 Post Independent), I am saddened by the continued deception as Ascendigo tries to make its case to the community. There are many inaccuracies in his post, and the facts will bear this out when all evidence is presented to the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. 

But I must call out one obvious point that Mr. Bell knows to be false. I had a private conversation with Mr. Bell a few weeks ago during which he acknowledged that the original proposal for homes to be built on the site was for 15, not 21 homes, as is frequently misstated. In his recent column he wrote “more than 20 homes.” Was this an attempt to move closer to the truth? It is still intentionally deceptive.

Mr. Bell, no one in our organization has, as you stated, “pushed back on your vision.” We have and always will support continued efforts to improve the lives of children and young adults on the autism spectrum. But those who are moved to support the Ascendigo proposal simply based on its admirable mission should recall a shrewd statement by the famous philosopher Kierkegaard: “Even what appears to be the purest feeling could still be a deception.” 

As the process moves forward, do not forget the wise Roman proverb: “He who has once used deception will deceive again.”

Joe Nuzzarello

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

Excuse me?

This letter is in response to Nancy Williams’ letter on May 28 in the Post Independent called “Taking Offense.” She states, “I believe Ascendigo will bring a better class of people to the neighborhood.” Wow! What does that mean? How discriminatory and classist is that? 

How does she know what class of people live in that neighborhood? Who cares that she has lived in the valley since 1968? She doesn’t live in Missouri Heights, she lives in Glenwood Springs. She has no right to tell the residents of Missouri Heights how their neighborhood should be developed. 

None of the people outside of the direct neighborhood have any right to decide how the Missouri Heights neighborhood should be developed. I live in Pitkin County, so I have no vested interest other than directly impacted neighbors having a say in their future. Garfield County commissioners need to listen to the directly impacted neighbors and tune everyone else out.

Melissa Waters

Carbondale

Equity or equality?

The Roaring Fork School District is apparently considering a “student equity committee” next year (May 31, Glenwood Springs Post Independent).

Has anyone Googled equality versus equity? One definition says “Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome” (Nov. 5, 2020, from onlinepublichealth.gwu.edu).

Onlinepublichealth goes on to say in part, “It is critical to remember that social systems aren’t naturally inequitable — they’ve been intentionally designed to reward specific demographics for so long that the system’s outcomes appear unintentional but are actively rooted discriminatory practices and beliefs.”

Question: Are Roaring Fork School District residents to assume the district is embracing equity over equality? I don’t recall the district board having this discussion.

Lynn Burton

Glenwood Springs

Monday letters: masks, Buddy Program, motorized scofflaws, West Glenwood development, Holy Cross election, Chelsea Self

Odd comment

I read the most unthinking, unreasonable and totally devoid of logic but totally politically correct statement in the Glenwood Post Independent this morning (May 24).

It was a quote from the article concerning the vote to rescind mask requirements, made by the Glenwood mayor encouraging those who are not vaccinated to continue wearing masks, “as you are still able to spread (COVID-19) to people who are vaccinated.”

Are we now to think that those vaccinated are the most vulnerable segment in our society? Many who choose not to be vaccinated have already had the virus and are the most immune. If the vaccine really gives no real protection, why is that still being pushed, and why take it?

Are we to continue shaming those who, for whatever reason, choose not to have any foreign substance injected into their bodies?

It is time that people think for themselves and refuse any longer to allow themselves to be controlled by unreasonable shame or fear.

Ramona Talbott

New Castle

Be a Buddy

Now more than ever, during these times of uncertainty, youth in our community need your time and support. As a mentor of a young girl, I can assure you that this is one of the most gratifying experiences that I had in this country, where I emigrated 11 years ago.

In 2011 I took a very important step in my life, offering my time and sharing it with a young girl who was then only 8 years old. I remember perfectly that September day when we got matched and I met my little buddy. She had a beautiful, big smile that barely fit her face, and we were so nervous, happy and full of excitement.

Now that little girl is a young woman who soon will turn 18 years old and will graduate from high school to start her college journey. Ten years of friendship, first getting to know each other, gaining trust, learning from each other, trying new experiences together in our community. Ten years full of laughter but also tears and consolation.

During all this time the two of us went through very difficult times in our lives, and we always had each other. Now I realized of everything I learned from this mentoring experience, of how I became a better person and that my buddy is and will always be a fundamental part of my life and my family.

So what are you waiting for? Do not let more time pass by. Our youth are the future of this country we live in. Mentoring is an experience that changes your life and a youth’s life positively forever.

To obtain more information about how to become a mentor in our community- or school-based programs, contact Laura Seay at lauras@buddyprogram.org or visit our website, BuddyProgram.org.

Ainhoa Buján

Carbondale

Bad back road experience

I am writing you to express my dismay about what I witnessed May 16. My wife and I hiked from the bottom of Daniels Hill to the Crystal Mill and back. We chose this day because it was clear to me (and the world) that motorized travel along this stretch of road was prohibited until May 21. During my hike, I observed at least 12 jeeps and trucks, as well as half a dozen one- and two-person ATVs, half a dozen four-person UTV’s and three motorcycles traveling this stretch of closed road. Some of these folks were openly consuming alcohol and allowing their dogs to run unattended.

It boggles the mind that these individuals would be allowed to blatantly violate federal law and not be held to account. There was no enforcement authority present whatsoever.

Something needs to be done promptly. I urge you to close County Road 3 to motorized travel immediately, until reasonable regulations can be enacted. Although I favor a complete ban of motorized travel, sharing this pristine stretch of Colorado backcountry is a reasonable first step.

Currently, motorized travel is permitted from May 21 to Nov. 22. Why not ban motorized travel every other day, week or month? Nonmotorized users should be given occasional access without having to tolerate the noise, dust, boozing, pollution and environmental degradation that always seems to come with motorized travel.

Please do not allow this gorgeous part of Colorado to become another Moab — where motorized use of public lands runs amuck.

Ed Holub

Garfield County

Right P&Z decision

It was heartening and confidence-

inspiring that the Glenwood P&Z commissioners, after long and careful scrutiny of the proposed annexation, rezoning and development of the land behind the mall, unanimously voted to deny the proposals, and for all the right reasons.

Local opposition, virtually unanimous also, reflected awareness that the scope and timing of the project were threats to basic safety. The neighborhood, which criss-crosses the city/county border and is occupied by residences on small, mostly dead-end roads, has proven to be impossible to evacuate in an emergency. We dodged a bullet last summer but learned our lesson: We lack the infrastructure capacity to evacuate the current population. It would be unconscionable to bring in more people and vehicles before we remedy this.

The developer defended plans to irrigate the lawns and ornamental plantings in the complex based on water rights and historic availability. But we remain on water restrictions from last year, facing even more severe drought conditions this year. Longer term, the lively controversy over water speculation bespeaks awareness of future severe water shortages. Failing to acknowledge this and implement xeriscaping was unforgivably short-sighted.

Proponents of the development were largely compliant with the 2011 Comprehensive Plan. But now we face crises the plan failed, due to both uncertainty and denial, to consider and which are now apparent. We have a housing and jobs crisis, ongoing severe drought and a traffic congestion/transportation crisis (aggravated by geography). What “small town character” will mean for our future depends on how we resolve the land use issues that are also issues of unsustainable inequality. There is no going back to any previous “normal,” however cherished. Mere survival, let alone survival as a community, demands something from the city, county and each of us.

Relinquishing nostalgia is painful, but we must do it to release the creativity and determination essential for common purposeful action. The choices seem grim, but they are real, with actions full of consequence. Let’s shed our illusions, our divisions and roll up our sleeves.

Laurie Raymond

Glenwood Springs

Vote for climate action

As a mother and a skier, I urge you to take action against climate change by voting in the current board election for our electric utility, Holy Cross Energy. Holy Cross provides stable, reliable and affordable power with an increasing clean energy supply.

Two incumbent board members, Bob Gardner and Kristen Bertuglia, are each running for one more term to complete the amazing transition to renewable energy. And a newcomer in the Northern District — Kristen Hartel — is being supported by the same coalition that backs Kristen B. and Bob.

Your ballot should have arrived in the mail. Please vote by June 7 for Bob Gardner, Kristen Bertuglia and Kristen Hartel.

Tarn Udall

Carbondale

Thanks, Chelsea

I lived in Glenwood Springs for most of my adult life and still consider it my hometown. My thanks to Chelsea Self for her stunning photographs reminding me how beautiful Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Valley is.

Kehn Ogden

Satellite Beach, Florida