Post Independent Opinion
The forces of geology, gravity, weather and frost-heaving worked together last week to cause a refrigerator-sized boulder to bash into Ron Dickman’s house on Hager Lane.
The massive rock punched a hole in the corner of the house and rolled through diagonally like a big bullet, blasting through the walls and crushing a trench into the floor until it stopped up against a recliner.
Luckily, the boulder missed hitting the three sleeping occupants of the house ” Dickman, his tenant in an upstairs bedroom, and his aging dog, who was snoozing on the living room floor just a few feet from the recliner.
Two months earlier, Dickman appeared before the Glenwood Springs City Council asking for permission to build a rockfall catchment fence uphill of South Midland Avenue, on city-owned right-of-way, to protect his property.
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Council members turned him down in a 4-3 vote.
Dickman and his housemates are lucky the boulder didn’t hit them, but so is the City Council. Rarely do their votes carry the weight of a life-or-death decision, but the close call in this situation is unmistakable.
Dickman proposed using surplus submarine fencing salvaged from World War II, which has near-mythical properties of strength and flexibility in catching or slowing rockfall. It’s been used successfully in Glenwood Canyon, and few motorists even notice it while driving by.
The fence may not have stopped the massive boulder, but it would have absorbed much of the rock’s hurtling energy and limited the damage.
Now, Dickman’s request to encroach on city property to build the fence is back on City Council’s agenda for this Thursday.
It should be approved unanimously.
Failure to approve it would set the city up for a huge liability (if the earlier decision hasn’t done so already) and an unconscionable risk for residents when rains loosen the rocks clinging to the hillside above Hager Lane.
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