In Phillip Yates’ Glenwood Springs Post Independent article on March 6 regarding the state Senate’s confirmation of Tresi Houpt’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission appointment, State Sen. Greg Brophy expressed his concern over confirming Houpt as a COGCC commissioner because of her position towards the oil and gas industry. Brophy is quoted in the article, wondering, “Are we going to have a true representative of local government here?”
I think Houpt’s absence from the COGCC stakeholder’s meeting held in Parachute on Jan. 3 substantiates his concerns. If confirmed, I challenge Tresi Houpt to fulfill her responsibilities to the constituents of Western Colorado communities by validating and respecting our concerns about our local economy, which is substantially supported by the oil and gas industry.
Furthermore, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent has provided ongoing coverage of the COGCC rule-making process, yet a portion of State Bills 1298 and 1341 have been overlooked. Provided for in HB-1341, under the section titled “Comprehensive Development Plans,” is a gross undermining of personal property rights. These rules allow for neighboring property owners and local citizen groups to protest the location of a drilling site. There is a separation of surface and mineral rights owners in Colorado, which has been an ongoing point of contention among landowners, and which is a separate issue. However, personal property rights have borders, which can be staked at the corners. Under no circumstances do these fences include consideration of neighboring whims. The verbiage included in the draft is ambiguous and open-ended, placing no set limits on the degradation of individual rights. This portion of the legislation before us goes beyond political, industry and economic impacts. This is government chipping away at constitutional rights.
The COGCC must be held accountable for their actions. Ultimately, it is up to each individual citizen to take an active interest in the future of your livelihoods, property values and economic well-being.
This is my last letter to the editor. I felt in the past that this was a good paper and a good place to express my views but the last letter I wrote to the editor was only partially published. If the paper is going to pick out parts of the letter and not publish the whole letter, it’s not staying true to itself, and I won’t be contributing in the future.
The Glenwood Springs City Council has seemed to wiggle its way out of providing what all cities in the world do, and that is keeping their downtown clean. Sufficient monies should be included in the street and maintenance budget each year to achieve this goal. I do not mean just having the street sweeper cleaning, but also human beings constantly cleaning, because when you have more than 25,000 vehicles traveling through your town daily, it is an everyday need. It would help if the street sweeper is scheduled early in the morning, before the streets are clogged with parked vehicles. The downtown from Sixth Street to Ninth Street, with the side streets of Colorado and Cooper, is not that large of an area to maintain.
Why is it council keeps looking elsewhere when we have a designed “parking garage” for 94 cars next to the fire station? I know they will say that the DDA cannot offer it, but how much did the city pony up for the pool, the fourth tennis court, and the new kayak park? Come on, the city can afford to partner with the DDA to build a parking garage.
Oh, by the way, there is a rumor that CDOT is thinking about coming back to “repair the Grand Avenue Bridge.” Surely you remember about 10 years ago, when CDOT tried to get the city to OK repairs for the bridge, but it turned out to be a widening and lengthening of the bridge, which would have wiped out one-and-a-half blocks of the downtown.
In response to the letter written by Randy McIntosh titled “Photo sensationalized accident in canyon,” I feel I must comment if only to dispel the accusation of “photojournalist sensationalism.”
As the “brilliant” photographer in question, perhaps I can clarify some important details. To start, I received absolutely no payment for the photograph. I do not work for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. An experienced climber for more than 20 years, I happened upon the scene, after the fact, as I started hiking up the hill above the Hanging Lake parking lot to photograph some local ice climbers on a nearby climb. Having my camera in hand and knowing the GSPI would write about the accident, I stopped to shoot a few photos of the scene. Due to the magic of the telephoto lens, I was much farther away from the scene than it may appear, and no one was in danger from my presence. I personally wore a helmet for protection from falling rocks and ice. Later, I sent in the photographs to help the GSPI explain the scene.
I feel the photograph brought attention to the article and therefore to the fact that, as Mr. McIntosh states, “motorists should realize the Watch For Rocks signs are serious.”
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has considerable untapped sales tax capacity in eight different political jurisdictions, which could provide funding for items ranging from the Glenwood Springs bypass, to in-town shuttles for Basalt and Carbondale ” all the way to the entrance to Aspen.
One advantage of using local funding for state highway projects is that when state funding finally becomes available, the local source can be reimbursed. I approached the RFTA board to request they revise their charter to include a petition process so the public could propose such questions.
The letter from RFTA legal counsel advising that the board did have the power to adopt such a procedure was placed at the end of their agenda, and there was no longer a quorum present when it came up. The lack of a quorum was not the problem. In the world of RFTA, six out of eight votes are needed to take any significant action. The three upvalley representatives for Snowmass Village, Aspen and Pitkin County declared they would not discuss my proposal because they would never support creating a procedure to allow citizen petitions relating to RFTA’s taxing authority.
By shutting down debate, the three Pitkin County jurisdictions eliminated potential funding for a new entrance to Aspen, my particular issue of interest, and the opportunity for RFTA to become the eventual beneficiary of the $38 million needed to build it.
Snowmass, Aspen and Pitkin County continue to treat RFTA as “their” bus system, and the other five jurisdictions have yet to rebel, in spite of the fact that the downvalley area is responsible for most of the growth in transit ridership. Perhaps the loss of $38 million, combined with the undemocratic attitude of the upvalley elite, will lead to some serious discussion at RFTA’s upcoming retreat.
More recently, Pitkin County leaders violated the state constitution by rejecting a petition proposing that Pitkin County property taxes be the source of funding for a new entrance to Aspen. Under this proposal, state reimbursement would benefit the Pitkin County road system, not RFTA.
The Glenwood Springs Energy Efficiency Ad Hoc Committee has started its work to write a climate action plan for the community of Glenwood Springs.
We plan to set a variety of goals for our community, such as advanced energy efficiency to save electricity, natural gas and gasoline, installing new sources of renewable energy, such as solar, hydropower and geothermal, and stepped up efforts to reduce trash and recycle more materials.
Our call to the public for ideas to include in the climate action plan drew a variety of excellent comments. Thanks go to John Barbee, Mary Russell, Ed Rosenberg, Kim Montague, Charlie Wertheim, Andrea Holland-Sears, John Stephens, Mike Vanian, Jennifer Vanian and Joan Troth for sending their ideas.
Once we have the plan in shape, we hope Glenwood Springs residents will take time to look it over, give us added comment and most importantly, work with us to turn it into reality. We will keep you posted on our progress.
We are looking toward a bright future in clean energy.
Heather McGregor and members of the Glenwood Springs Energy Efficiency Ad Hoc Committee
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