I think that the biggest issue facing the county is oil and gas development. Already, we have over 2,000 gas wells in the county, and the industry is telling us that we are just at the “tip of the iceberg.” Oil and gas industry officials are estimating that the county may see up to 10,000 wells in Garfield County in the next 10-20 years, which will fundamentally transform the county as we know it. Already, landowners in the western portion of the county are being faced with gas wells literally in their own backyards, and we are seeing pristine public lands throughout the county turning into gas fields. It is due time that we turn our awareness to this critical issue, and start to find solutions for how we can extract these important resources without destroying all that we are proud of in Garfield County
Biggest problem for the county is lack of an effective mass-transportation system. This has at least three side effects: more traffic congestion, competition for parking spaces and higher household costs. While there are parking spaces in the downtown areas of all the county’s cities, for a variety of reasons people are uneasy about driving and parking in these spots. With the development of the new mall in Glenwood and recent developments in Rifle, downtown areas are going to suffer a loss of shoppers as they gravitate to easier access and easier parking. Decent mass transit would help insure the health of our downtown areas.
Having lived in the area for just over a year, I am not familiar with the historical background of the bus system’s development. However, as one who commutes 60 miles a day (my wife commutes 80 miles a day), the lack of express service west of Glenwood to New Castle, Silt and Rifle is a detriment to county residents. Mass transit could cut costs by half or more and would create expendable income in the pockets of county residents.
In an area where space for highways and parking lots is at a premium, and a large number of people commute to work, it seems that effective mass transit would be a natural priority for the county. The result would be more spending money for families, less congestion on downtown streets ” which would encourage shoppers to visit ” and better economic health for local merchants. If this problem is not addressed, local merchants will suffer, costs of commuting remain high, and traffic congestion will become a greater problem.
The No. 1 issue facing this county is the quality education of our community’s children. Everybody in this county, not just county residents with children, benefits from excellent public schools. Today’s children are tomorrow’s bank tellers, nurses, construction workers, business owners, and tourism officials. A well-educated work force has clear benefits to the economic health of our county. In November, there will be numerous ballot issues requesting money to fund our community’s educational system. Addressing obsolete facilities, rapid growth, and reasonable teachers’ compensation require this county’s pursuit of excellence and financial commitment.
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