Wednesday letters: Trust Ascendigo, Ascendigo incompatible, West Glenwood development, Whiting column, City Market, Missouri Heights fire and water, Boebert on bone marrow, Gardner, Bertuglia, irresponsible land use, beacon of hope, and landfill manager
Understand, and trust, Ascendigo
I work directly with Ascendigo’s participants with autism, and I also live in the Missouri Heights area. If I were to name every life-changing moment I have encountered with Ascendigo, this letter would be too long. I will simply let you all know that my life has shifted into a realm that I see the world in a different way, and, more importantly, I have learned to see myself from angles that I did not know existed.
The Andy that I thought I had figured out and knew so well was morphing, growing, and today I have become a better man.
A quote by Beau Taplin says, “We are all so desperate to be understood, but we forget to be understanding.”
I certainly understand that neighbors are concerned about Ascendigo Ranch’s impact on their community. What I can say with confidence is that Ascendigo has worked with experts to understand these impacts and to ensure there is adequate water, road infrastructure and fire mitigation to support it.
I hope we can all “understand” that Ascendigo has been running high-quality, professional programs for 16 years, and for 12 years has been evaluating properties to find the “perfect home.” I hope we can use the dialogue about Ascendigo Ranch as an opportunity for all of us to grow, to team up and to form yet another community within this amazing valley we have all chosen as our home.
I hope we can evaluate this project not as a hindrance, but a place where we all can gather hearts and minds for a collective voice that will not only help those that benefit so greatly from Ascendigo’s mission but to grow within ourselves. We can show the valley and beyond that to “Elevate the Spectrum” is not just for those with autism, but all of us.
I attended the April 27 and May 1 tours of Ascendigo’s 126-acre development site along with 30 other Missouri Heights residents. Standing at the midpoint of the expansive area being proposed for development now and in the future (as the winds howled around us on the 27th) and listening to the plans for the land use leads to a conclusion that the area is totally inappropriate for this proposed use.
I want to emphasize that my opposition to this project is not about who wants to develop the land, or the value of the services they provide, but instead about the intended use of the land itself.
Make no mistake, the proposed use of this land is intense — more intense than the already permitted, platted and approved rural residential land use. Fifty thousand square feet of structures, more than 100 campers, staff and guests will be on site every day during the May to September summer season and year-round programs. Anywhere between 210 and 450 vehicle trips every day (not to mention service vehicles, food supply trucks, refuse removal trucks); parking for 94 vehicles; up to 150 people for special events.
Having studied the documents and then listened to the explanations and answers to resident questions (which deviated significantly from prior statements and published plan documents), the applicant’s credibility and commitment to the community and its neighbors is in serious question. Many others have identified and commented upon the changing facts and the serious fire, water, light pollution and safety risks.
If Ascendigo wants to be a good neighbor, as it claims, it would listen to its neighbors and place this camp in the valley, near transportation, utilities and safety support services not in the rural area of Missouri Heights.
Missouri Heights, Carbondale
‘No’ to West Glenwood development
So many letters about Ascendigo, yet down the valley from Ascendigo, an enormous housing proposal isn’t receiving the attention it deserves.
The development, 480 Donegan, has the same concerns as Ascendigo: issues like infrastructure, traffic, noise and safety.
The development is an enterprise of 360 mixed-use units on Donegan Street and Storm King Drive. If it goes through, the quiet rural Donegan Street will see an increase of 2,200 cars per day, and parking would be allowed along Donegan.
Anyone west of Donegan and Storm King Drive likely would perish if there was a wildfire, with so much residential density. Two Rivers Community School, across the street from 480 Donegan, wouldn’t have a safe route out. Should there be a fire, access to the highway will be nil.
The proposal is audacious (perhaps a word too noble). On 12 acres, developers quote 360 residential rental units including townhouses, single residential units and affordable housing. A restaurant and clubhouse are also included in the plans.
Glenwood Springs certainly needs affordable housing, but not in a behemoth like 480.
Currently, there are horses in the pasture. If this passes, there’ll be a wall of four-story tall buildings blocking the view of the gorgeous red cliffs across the Colorado River.
This is not a NIMBY; I want affordable housing, and developing that land tract seems inevitable.
What I protest is the size. I know developers often present a project that’s larger than they expect to build, so that when people protest, they “concede” and reduce the size. For this development to work in this location, the developers would have to reduce the size by 50%.
Please pay attention, dear Glenwooders: Say “no” to “480 Donegan.”
Whiting column response
I am responding to Bryan Whiting’s column on May 5, “Political strategies can’t be isolated from economics.” Bryan always writes a very educational and informative column on the traditional U.S. economy.
In contrast to Bryan’s explanation of establishment economics, I would offer the following information. America’s economy is a dysfunctional and broken economy and does not function as a free-market economy. All of the wealth is accumulated at the top of the economy by the wealthy 10%.
You know something is severely broken with this economic system when America ranks in the top 10 in inequality among the developed nations. America’s wealthiest 10% own 84% of the stocks on Wall Street.
According to a recent report in TIME magazine and other publications, America’s wealthy 1% gained at least
$7 trillion in wealth in 2020 due to tax cuts and the CARES Act. A similar development took place during the Great Recession of 2008.
There is no need to worry about corporate America or the wealthy being taxed too much. Why? They rarely pay their taxes. If they do pay taxes, it is rarely at the rate of 35%, 28% or 21% established by Congress. They use offshore bank accounts to stash their trillions of dollars in profits to avoid paying taxes. In addition, Congress annually approves billions of dollars in corporate welfare
($110 billion annually) to corporate America.
Today, the U.S. imports only 7% of its petroleum products from the Persian Gulf. Wall Street makes petroleum prices go up, not OPEC. Congress needs to pass the Green New Deal that will make importing oil products obsolete and create thousands of new green energy jobs.
The bottom line is that Americans need at least a $15-an-hour minimum wage, paid family leave and Medicare for all. We need a permanent wealth tax and a carbon tax. This combination represents the foundation of a new economy for America. This is sound long-term economic planning.
City Market culpable
Lately, denigrating law enforcement officers seems to be the woke thing to do.
This holds true for most of the letters about the City Market snafu with Michael Francisco.
I think most of the blame goes to the store’s hyper-
sensitive gas jockey and the manager who managed to call the police instead of managing the situation.
There was no reason to call the police, but since they were called, they did what City Market asked. This is where Mike misdirected his anger at police and should have been smarter. I’ve found that arguing with cops, district attorneys and judges is counterproductive. You never win.
The police were just doing their job. If any racial bias was on display, the facts point to City Market. They and they alone should be the ones apologizing to Mr. Francisco.
Police do a dangerous and thankless job protecting and serving the public faithfully. They deserve our thanks and respect.
Fire and water
This concerned Missouri Heights resident wants to know why our Garfield County officials would consider risking their current constituents’ security for an entity that hopes to build the Ascendigo camp, an incompatible commercial facility in an unsuitable location.
Since 1980, I have lived on Missouri Heights and witnessed more fire and less water become Missouri Heights realities that are undeniable to those of us who reside here. Both conditions are intensified by steadily increasing winds. And currently, our winds are serious enough to make some outdoor activities unpleasant if not impossible. Residents are praying we don’t have another fire this summer.
In this local climate, Ascendigo is applying to build its 126-acre facility constructed as a camp whose campers include children. And safety is paramount with any camp. Why would Ascendigo put its own clients’ safety in jeopardy?
The potential adverse effects of this Ascendigo camp are many, but the most threatening are risking water security (already strained) and increasing wildfire danger. Those are the facts.
Missouri Heights, Carbondale
Boebert’s bone marrow stance
The following is the start of a letter that I sent to the honorable Lauren Boebert in regards to her opposing a very important bill to reauthorize the National Bone Marrow Transplant Program.
Dear Rep. Boebert:
I am writing in response to your recent decision to oppose a bill that would reauthorize the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), The TRANSPLANT Act, bill HR 941. I write as a voter in your district but also as a mother who had a child in cancer treatment and as an advocate for childhood cancer research.
I was initially shocked that the congresswoman from my home district would vote against a life-saving program for cancer patients, but as I read your explanation, I realized that you might not be informed of the significance of the program. I am reaching out to you to give you a perspective you most likely did not have, and I feel sure that if you did you would have been an advocate for the National Bone Marrow Registry, not an opponent.
Once, after speaking at a fundraising event for childhood cancer research, a mother told me the heart-wrenching story of her son who was diagnosed at age 7 with leukemia. He initially responded well to chemotherapy, but two years into his treatment, cancer returned. When a child relapses during leukemia treatment, they need a bone marrow transplant, or they will die. Time is crucial in these cases, because leukemia cells proliferate at an incredibly fast rate.
This mother turned to her family and relatives for a donor, but unfortunately none of them matched. In fact, only 30% of patients needing a transplant have a family member that matches. The remaining 70% require an unrelated donor as a transplant source.
The NMDP had someone in the registry that was a match for her son. This mother, her little boy, their family and their entire community were overjoyed.
Gardner seeks Holy Cross reelection
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the member consumers of Holy Cross Energy as a member of the board of directors since 2012. I am seeking reelection to the board to continue the work that my fellow board members, Holy Cross’s skilled and professional staff and I are engaged in to lead the responsible transition to a clean energy future.
Holy Cross is a not-for-profit, rural electric cooperative serving the Eagle, Colorado and Roaring Fork river valleys, governed by an elected board of directors. Directors are elected from and by the member consumers. Holy Cross provides electricity to nearly 60,000 homes and businesses and generates nearly $135 million in annual revenue.
As an electric utility not motivated by profit, Holy Cross is motivated to serve member consumers by providing safe, reliable electric service, a progressively decarbonized power supply, affordable electricity competitively priced and member consumer programs that foster efficiency, conservation and renewable power generation.
Over the past few years: Holy Cross has kept its electric rates unchanged and in the lower third of all Colorado electric utilities; kept the lights on 99.9% of the time; returned over $10 million in member equity to member consumers; has a strategic plan to provide 100% carbon free electricity by 2030 and ended 2020 receiving 44% of its power supply from renewable generation.
I live in Basalt and am a lifelong resident of this region. For more information, please see GardnerBradford.com and HolyCross.com/robert-gardner.
I will continue to dedicate my experience, knowledge and understanding of Holy Cross’ member consumers and service territory for the benefit of the member consumers of Holy Cross Energy.
I also ask you to join me in reelecting another nine-year incumbent director, Kristen Bertuglia of Vail. More information about this committed, intelligent, thoughtful candidate can be found at HolyCross.com/Kristen-Bertuglia or KristenForHolyCross.com.
Ballots for this election were mailed to member consumers Monday and are due back June 9.
Bertuglia for Holy Cross
I have known Kristen Bertuglia for many years, as a public servant and dedicated professional. She is a competent leader who cares about our community.
In her past decade of service, as a Holy Cross Energy board member, she has helped lead our co-op toward innovative and industry-leading goals. Even more, she has been a part of the board that committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030, while keeping our rates the lowest in the state.
Holy Cross is a model utility, and I urge you to cast your vote for Kristen.
Support Bob for Holy Cross
My long-term close friend Bob Gardner is running for reelection to the Holy Cross board, and I am advocating for his continued service in that capacity.
Bob is a lifelong resident of our valley and embodies the highest form of integrity. He had a 30-plus year career, until retiring in 2005, working for Holy Cross in progressively responsible positions that capped in executive management.
His experience makes him uniquely qualified, as he is familiar with all levels of operations and will offer the board a perspective to function at optimal levels.
Irresponsible land use
Ascendigo is engaged in a full court press PR campaign to win approval of its proposed development in Missouri Heights, by trying to convince people that they are in an epic struggle of good against evil. They are not. Their problem is the irrefutable facts showing their proposal to be an irresponsible and inappropriate use of the proposed site.
They have purchased expert reports that actually make the argument that their proposed thousands-of-square-feet event center buildings place less of a strain on limited resources (water, infrastructure) than the 13 to 15 home sites that have been zoned for and permitted.
Although their story continues to change, they propose in only Phase 1 to build a campus that will be used 365 days a year, with hundreds of people at events Ascendigo decides to allow (think: conferences, fundraising parties, workshops and “related events”). All we need is one out-of-state guest lacking an understanding of the fire risk to casually flip a cigarette butt into the weeds on his/her way to her vehicle. Fire trucks cannot navigate Catherine Store Road fast enough to protect the site or our homes from the resulting wildfire.
Those of us living in Missouri Heights know the increasing danger as we head into another dry summer. We rely on each other to keep our lives as safe as can be, with limited water and increasingly dangerous weather patterns, including high winds.
Siting this facility up here defies logic. I ask you to consider what it says about Ascendigo’s commitment to its mission to serve vulnerable youth with sensory and other issues that comprise the autism spectrum.
Surely, they can find a more appropriate, safer, responsible location to build their project. We urge them to do so. The kids they serve deserve better. We all do.
Missouri Heights, Carbondale
A beacon of hope
First, let me say I do have an interest in the proposed Ascendigo Ranch in Missouri Heights. My autistic 19-year-old daughter who can’t speak and requires 24/7 one-on-one care receives daily therapy through Ascendigo. She also attends camp for several weeks in the summer, and no, we are not rich.
Ascendigo has a generous scholarship fund that benefits many families, including ours. There is a reason families bring their autistic kids here from all over the country. There is virtually no other place that offers similar high-quality support and experiences for the autism community.
Ascendigo gives these kids the opportunity to learn outdoor activities that would seem impossible without their specialized ability to make miracles happen. Skiing, horseback riding, river rafting, wakeboarding, etc., are things we never dreamed possible for my daughter.
I read the daily negative letters in the papers that seem never-ending and often repeated. If Missouri Heights is a barren, waterless, fire hazard, windswept wasteland, why does anyone live there? Should the elderly, disabled and children not be allowed to live in this dangerous area?
The Ascendigo property is a very large 126-acre site, and I can’t imagine an already zoned 23-house development would be preferred, but then I think the negative letters would also flood in opposing that, too.
I guess Missouri Heights is just OK for the people that already live there.
Ascendigo is a beacon of hope and an amazing accomplishment for so many autism-affected families throughout the country, and it’s right here in our community. Rather than attacking this project, I hope the whole Roaring Fork Valley can be proud to have this opportunity to do something truly special for so many kids and families in need in this beautiful place.
Recognition to Matt Langhorst for his wisdom and foresight in the hiring of Liz Mauro to be the city of Glenwood Springs landfill manager.
Liz Mauro was previously the project and compliance manager of compost operations and supervisor at the Pitkin County Landfill. Liz oversaw storm water compliance, biosolids reporting, compost facility management, compliance for landfill leachate, hazardous waste collection, construction waste management and noxious weed compliance, enforcement and education.
Liz has been a lab technician for five years, wastewater treatment operator for seven years and land manager for two years in Pitkin County. I am positive Pitkin County is so sad to see her go. She left them in good hands and good condition.
The Glenwood Springs Landfill is grateful for her expertise. I think Matt understands how valuable her experience and knowledge are in the very real movement of climate change.
I ask the people of Glenwood Springs to support the removing of biodegradable food waste from the garbage stream. Food waste is the single largest component taking up space in U.S. landfills. Decomposing food is creating methane gas that is 86 times more potent than CO2, contributing to climate change. This is an easy way to make a big change.
Liz Mauro is capable and will be implementing a top notch food and compost program at the Glenwood Springs Landfill. Matt deserves to hear a thank-you for making a decision that reaches far into the future for positive change. Thanks, Matt.
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