Situated on the banks of the Tigris River, Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, is home to 5 million people. Like any modern city, the streets are crowded with cars, trucks and busses. Traffic is controlled by a few signals and many large roundabouts. At the center of these traffic circles are beautiful displays featuring landscaping, pools, fountains and sculptures reminiscent of the Art Deco era. With a temperate climate similar to that of Southern California, the city is landscaped with palm trees, eucalyptus, bougainvillea, rose bushes, and other sun-loving plants. Orange and lemon trees are plentiful and boughs heavy with fruit reach over backyard walls along residential alleyways.
The skyline resembles some of the older sections of U.S. cities such as Pittsburgh and Detroit. Apartments, office buildings and hotels are constructed of beige concrete or brick, and there is very little in the way of modern steel or glass facades. The only indication that this is not a typical American city are the numerous domed mosques with their tall minarets. These are intricately decorated with colorful tile mosaics, and five times daily, the loudspeakers at the top of the minarets broadcast the hauntingly melodic voice of a caller reciting prayers from the Koran.
While it is evident that Baghdad was recently a prosperous and thriving metropolis, one cannot help but notice the effects of the Gulf War and 13 years of economic sanctions. Bridges over the Tigris that were targeted by allied bombers have yet to be rebuilt, resulting in the remaining bridges being choked with traffic. Many of the once fine buildings have fallen into disrepair. Some that were under construction before the war have never been completed, their structural steel supports remain unclad, and brick and block walls crumble to the ground. While the streets are kept in good shape to facilitate transportation and commerce, the sidewalks are pitifully neglected and are sometimes so broken and heaving, it is necessary to walk in the street. Storefronts are shabby, and the once-splendid iron doors and window gratings are rusting away.
A common sight on the streets of Baghdad are the adorable little shoeshine boys. Unlike most children in America, these enterprising young lads do not spend their afterschool hours playing soccer or video games. With their portable wooden boxes equipped with brushes and polish, they call out to passersby to aid their desperate plight by taking advantage of this simple service. A shine generally costs 250 Iraqi Dinars (which is equivalent to about 12 cents U.S.) and is always accepted with a brilliant smile.
Despite the hardships endured by the citizens of Baghdad, the Iraqi disposition is one of dignity and grace. They greet each other warmly and talk and smile, rarely displaying the suffering that the lack of jobs, food, medicines, and clean, safe water due to the sanctions have brought upon them and their families. They go on with their lives as normally as possible, even under the terrifying threat of war by the most powerful nation on earth, which would bring even more devastation and misery to their already struggling existence.
The city of Baghdad was established around 700 A.D. and has endured over 1,200 years. Its survival through the next century now appears to be in the hands of an upstart new country that has been in existence for only a few hundred years, whose leaders seem to have almost no regard for its historical value or the lives of its inhabitants. Further destruction of Baghdad by sanctions or bombardment would certainly be a great pity, not to mention a shameful crime against the people who live there.
Editor’s note: Sue Gray recently returned from a two-week trip to Iraq and is available for public speaking engagements.
The Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD) will vote this Tuesday, Jan. 21, on whether to support a proposal to reduce the “call” at the Shoshone Power Plant owned by Xcel Energy. By reducing the “call” at Shoshone the flows in the Colorado River could be significantly reduced and affect the fisheries and the ability to float the Colorado River from Hot Sulphur Springs to Glenwood Springs this spring. Reducing the “call” at Shoshone will allow more water to be stored in Green Mountain, Williams Fork Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir.
In the short term, the water stored in the reservoir benefits Denver Water, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the irrigators in Grand Junction to the detriment of the environment, rafters, kayakers, fishermen and the tourist economy of Glenwood Springs. Without water flowing in the Colorado River the groundwater tributary to the Colorado River will be dewatered and affect wells and reduce summer flows. Reduced summer flows increase the water temperature and could impact fisheries and the ability to float the river.
This decision by the CRWCD to reduce the “call” has long-term environmental impacts as the Front Range searches for sources of water. This reduced “call” may not be the exception, it could be the norm if this proposal is allowed to go forward.
The CRWCD taxes the homeowners in the Colorado River Basin to protect our interests in water. Water in the river affects our environment, fishing, kayaking, rafting, recreation opportunities, aesthetics, economy and more importantly why we live here. This decision by the CRWCD is too important to not become informed and involved. Go to the CRWCD Web site, attend the board meeting on Tuesday, contact Garfield County’s representative, Richard Hunt of Carbondale. Tell him and the CRWCD board not to dewater the Colorado River to the benefit of the Front Range and the Grand Junction irrigators and to protect our quality of life and our economy.
Have I reached the right conclusion? The reason we are going to war with Iraq and not North Korea is that Iraq after years of sanctions and the previous war is nearly defenseless while North Korea can fight back.
“Oh No!” That was my first reaction to my quote in last Sunday’s Post Independent regarding the 2003 goal-setting meeting that the Glenwood Springs City Council and staff conducted last week. To refresh your memory I was quoted as saying I wanted to bring more business to town. It is not that I did not say that; I did. I had, however, spoken these words in context of a bigger picture. They were not just words I had spoken that day but a continuous theme that I have been saying these past four years.
Here we are in the midst of a serious downturn in the economic cycle.
Business as a whole is down. Construction is slow, retail sales is down, some businesses have shut their doors, people have moved away, available housing rentals are up and unemployment is up. We are not the same community we were a few years back. Neither are we the same state or nation we were a few years back. There have been many reasons offered about why we are in the situation we are in but no real solutions.
For many years Glenwood Springs was the central retail hub for the area. We had the majority of the retail business. We were the envy of our neighboring communities as far as our sales tax revenue and the services we could offer our citizens. Even prior to the current economic downturn we knew that changes were on the horizon. Grocery stores were built in neighboring communities; rumors of major retail “big boxes” in other communities were often heard. It was all part of the growth in our valley and the changing demographics.
During the past few years I have been encouraging City Council and city staff to look hard at diversifying our economic base. The trump card we can play is our location. As a community and a city we have so much to offer. I believe that we can enhance the lives of our citizens while creating a desirable place to live, work and visit. Long-range planning can create a sustainable and viable community.
Glenwood Springs is an incredible place. We are on the confluence of two wonderful rivers, in a valley surrounded by mountains. We have the hot springs, caves and world-class skiing nearby. For the outdoors person we offer an assortment of remarkable activities. We have hiking, camping, biking, rafting, kayaking, swimming (year around) Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and spelunking. There is truly something for everyone. These are examples of some of the things that I would like to see capitalized on more in our economic game plan for the future. More retail alone is not the answer. We must do things that encourage our desirability as a community to both live in and to visit.
For several years one of council’s goals has been to encourage economic diversity. This year (2003) it finally made it to the top of the list. My hope is that the city (elected officials and staff), the Chamber, business leaders and concerned citizens will pool their ideas and energy to create a long-term vision for Glenwood Springs that is economically viable, sustainable, ecologically sound and achievable.
Quality of life is important to each of us who live here. From the young to the old the ability to live here grows more difficult every year. We must have a place we can afford to live in that is also a place we desire to live in. This is more than just creating new business, it is a vision for the future.
Editor’s note: Rick Davis is a Glenwood Springs City Council member.
Where’s the beef? At the special City Council meeting on Red Feather Ridge there were many pretty pictures (like some restaurant menus) but essential details were missing in the presentation. There was a lot of hot air put into the bun by staff and the developer and many condiments (or incentives/exactions/payoffs) were added, to make it more appetizing, but the meat of the matter was missing!
The most important missing ingredient is where the voted upon, expanded Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), the new “line in the sand” will be drawn. Whether inadvertently or intentionally, neither staff, council, nor the developer clearly communicated to the public where the line will be, nor was it detailed in the motion to expand our UGB.
Assumption would have it at the edge of Red Feather Ridge, but previous presentations had proposed it to be along Four Mile Creek. If so, then the de-facto expansion of our city will not just be Red Feather Ridge, but also parts of Bershenyi ranch. Beware. The Red Feather Ridge proposal already shows an area/easement that could be used for a roadway connecting the two. Maybe it’s even drawn down the creek (following one of the alternatives connecting the Four Mile corridor to Highway 82) to include Prehm Ranch, Westbank, and Rose Ranch. Here’s the chance for us to have that 18-hole golf course within our city limits that some have always wanted.
It makes a huge difference even if it is just to the creek. Can we expect that the Bershenyi and Martino ranches adjacent to Red Feather Ridge may seek annexation for the same type of great (?) suburban model as Red Feather Ridge? And what of the additional impacts if they change from raising `cow-ses’ to growing `how-ses’?
Residential development (viewed by some as the highest and best use of raw land) will surely have impacts, unless you can find the right expert who can convince the decision-makers that more vehicle trips per day (1,400-plus with Red Feather Ridge) will have no impact on traffic levels!
Back to the pretty pictures shown by Red Feather Ridge. Water issues should concern us all. Shown in blue were two large ponds surrounded by the cemetery. The experts called it a water feature. I suggest that it be called a “maybe or sometime water feature.” I think we will have our own mini-version of the Colorado River compact. The ponds can be likened to where the Colorado ends (dries up) in Mexico.
The difference is that Red Feather Ridge has senior water rights compared to those up the creek (literally and figuratively). The need/desire will be to keep the ponds full to ensure the “attractiveness” of the development and to provide raw water irrigation for the lawns of the residences, the park, and the cemetery at the expense of those upstream. When there are inadequate flows in the creek, the plan is to use wells on-site to fill the ponds, dropping the water table even further.
Imagine turning on your faucet and no water coming out, or not being able to grow your own vegetables. You then drive to town, past the Red Feather Ridge project where water was being wasted to irrigate the `significant landscaping’ without the planned park and cemetery in place. This has already happened to Four Mile residents in the drought summer of 2002.
And what of the internal `perimeter trail’ shown in their `pretty pictures'” The developer will give the city an easement on private property for an internal trail. When Red Feather Ridge residents want their trail they saw in the plans and marketing materials, who will pay to construct and maintain it? The taxpayers! Not a wise decision or use of public monies, but a great selling point by the developer to city council.
I’m hoping that there can be a better process to give the citizens the necessary information needed to be involved in the future of our community. To hide the essential ingredient of where the next UGB lines will be is a travesty. There has already been before council a proposal to extend the UGB westward for another residential project on the Dever parcel. What about other vacant land in unincorporated areas including Storm King Ranch, and the Bowles, Diemoz and Zancanella properties? The council majority has shown their true colors of wanting control over vacant lands surrounding Glenwood Springs. They don’t want the already developed areas since they already get sales tax dollars from those residents without having to provide all services. With control, they can approve a higher density than allowed in the county. This translates to even more residents and more sales tax dollars to help fund the `kingdom’ of Glenwood. Forget about the impacts and costs of mitigation. It’s the `control’ that matters.
Our future holds that we are forced to pay for and choke on the expensive, unappetizing, nonsustaining Red Feather Ridge project by a decision of a council majority. So the `beef’ was missing from what was served to the citizens by the developer team, city staff, and city council at this meeting. I think that this hidden `beef’ (of where the UGB will be) has instead grown and been transformed into a major `BEEF’ that many residents of the Glenwood Springs community have with this decision by our council. I’m sure many will share their opinions both publicly and privately. Thanks for providing this opportunity to share some of my initial thoughts. I don’t know where we go from here, but for many of us the council has not chosen the right direction.
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