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.
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.
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?
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Kuhlenberg for school board