Guest Opinion: Prioritize basic services, ‘stop the beautification’
Glenwood Springs city councilor
“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays you instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
— Edmund Burke
Councilor Paula Stepp wrote a column in the July 27 Post Independent questioning the Glenwood City Councils ‘ opening of the “Blake Gate” near Walmart. While her points are difficult to discern her main criticisms appear to be: 1) The City Council does not listen to the residents/voters, and 2) Before this gate can be opened the streets and infrastructure (sidewalks, paving, streets etc) must be fixed. Ms. Stepp is wrong on the facts and the history.
First, having been elected to fix the infrastructure of Glenwood Springs I could not agree with Ms. Stepp’s point more, if she truly believed that. Unfortunately for well over a year since we were both elected the councilor has continued to spend money on unnecessary things, enabling our city bureaucracy grow while ignoring infrastructure and spending money on nonsense. Recently Ms. Stepp voted for Broadband and over $150,000 dollars for new vehicles for it, she also approved the purchase of the former Western Petroleum land (another $400K) for a new recycling center. And that is just two recent examples. She and the majority of council have continued to spend money (pre and post-covid) like the proverbial drunken sailors while our streets, pipes, sidewalks and other critical infrastructure fail.
Second, with regard to what the people want, this council would not have the first idea of what the “people” want. And, there is no way to take a “poll” every time we vote. It’s called “representative democracy” because people elect you to make decisions for them. I don’t put my finger up to see how the wind is blowing on every issue, if I did, nothing would ever get accomplished. The average citizen does not have time to pay attention to every issue, which is why they elect people to make decisions for them, otherwise government could not function.
As for the Blake Gate and the new Bell-Rippy project, Ms. Stepp knows, or should know that the developers of that property had a 2018 approval from the previous council. She also heard as I did a majority of local neighbors express admiration for the new proposal as it addressed their concerns. Ms. Stepp alone voted against the new project, had the majority voted with her the developers would have, and they said as much, proceeded with their prior approvals and built an apartment building nobody wanted or liked. Additionally, the Blake Gate opening was part of this project, as to open to accommodate the additional residents, and is inevitable. Councilor Davis moved to open it early, and included the stipulations, and Ms. Stepp knows or should know, that there will be more community input and, crucially, that the street(s) and infrastructure must be repaired before it opens. And it seems a little hypocritical to say others are not listening when councilor Stepp continues to be out of step with not only the rest of council but the people who voted for her.
Finally, yes of course elected representatives should listen to their constituents. And I do, and what they tell me more than anything else is, get down to business, provide the People with the basic things a government is supposed to do, stop the beautification, stop wasting time and money on nonsense and fix the streets! That is my plan for the next two and a half years. I hope councilor Stepp assists me in this necessary and primary duty to the people of Glenwood Springs.
Tony Hershey is an at-large councilor for Glenwood Springs.
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