Inside the Chamber column: Vote yes on both 2H and 2I this November | PostIndependent.com

Inside the Chamber column: Vote yes on both 2H and 2I this November

Marianne Virgili
Inside the Chamber

I love local ballot initiatives, and it’s a love I come by honestly. My maiden name is “Balotta,” which in Italian means “little ball,” like the ballot balls that were used to determine elections centuries ago. Townspeople would meet in the square and drop white or black balls into a box to determine if they were in favor of or opposed to an issue. My Dad surmised that because of the origin of our name, our ancestors were most likely politicians.

Makes sense to me. When I moved to Glenwood Springs in 1982, I was excited to learn about a new ballot initiative proposed by a group of citizens led by Molly Downs. Molly had moved here from Denver and envisioned a more beautiful community. She organized a group that called itself “Community on the Move.” A three-quarter cent sales tax was placed on the ballot for beautification projects including street lamps downtown and sidewalks leading to West Glenwood. (Yes, Glenwood was wild and woolly back then and we didn’t have either of those things.) The money was put into an Acquisitions & Improvements Fund for capital “above the ground” projects.

By 1998 all the projects envisioned had been built, and Community on the Move identified new projects like an alternate route on Midland, a new City Hall, a raw water delivery system, bike trails and a community center. Funding for the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts and Historical Society was also allocated, and the tax was extended to 1 cent with a 20-year sunset clause. I was honored to join the group and directed PR for a campaign that extolled, “This One’s for Us.” “Promises made, promises kept” was another slogan we used for signs dotted around town that identified our successful projects.

It’s hard to believe nearly 20 years has passed, and it’s hard to imagine our community without all the amenities that the A&I tax has provided.

This fall Glenwood Springs voters will be asked to approve the renewal of the current 1-cent sales tax as well as the city’s ability to bond and build essential projects that will improve safety, ease traffic congestion and make our community an even better place to live. In addition, funding for the Center for the Arts and Glenwood Springs Historical Society are subject to annual appropriations. Other worthwhile acquisition projects that may come up in the future can also be funded by this tax.

You must vote YES on both the tax initiative (2H) and the bonding initiative (2I) in order for the identified projects to materialize.

With the help of a registered voter survey, the following bonding projects have been identified:

1. Improve safety and traffic congestion by constructing bridge and road improvements that may include South Bridge, South Midland Avenue and the 27th Street Sunlight bridge.

2. Construction of a riverwalk to include river access, parks and other infrastructure at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers.

3. Construction of the “Gateway to Glenwood Springs” by making street scaping and other improvements to the Sixth Street corridor.

All this will be done without an increase in the current tax, and 70 percent of the tax is paid by non-Glenwood Springs residents.

Surveyed registered voters showed support for extending the current tax for 30 years. Tax collections would result in $4 million per year, and because of extremely low interest rates we can bond for and begin to construct $53 million worth of projects now.

I think the reason I like local ballot initiatives so much is that there is power at the polls. When a ballot initiative wins, things happen. It is truly democracy in action. This is the real work we do as a chamber of commerce — we are helping to build a community.

To learn more: Attend one of three community meetings: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Cardiff Glen School House; noon Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Glenwood Springs Library; or 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

Please visit http://voteyeson2Hand2I.com to learn more and to add your name to a list of growing supporters, and vote YES on 2H and 2I.

Marianne Virgili is president & CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and corresponding secretary of Community on the Move, which is an ad hoc committee of the chamber. True to her name, she has worked on a dozen local ballot initiatives.


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