Leave something wild for the future
It's not a holiday or a special birthday but recently "we" gave ourselves a splendid gift. Two hundred acres of what many already consider to be public land is now the public's land. This happened because we decided in 1997 and again in 2003 that forests, native grasses and rocky outcroppings have far-reaching value and are worth preserving. You voted for the trails, open space and parks tax. You share in the vision and legacy of legendary philanthropists like General William Jackson Palmer and Charles Perkins. You are leaving something wild for future generations of hikers and bicyclists. The 200 acres flow seamlessly out of Ute Valley Park. Most users have been unknowingly trespassing for years. No matter, it will soon belong to you. The bulk of the money will come from TOPS, Great Outdoors Colorado (lottery) and the Trust for Public Land. Friends of Ute Valley Park are busy raising $100,000 for the purchase and for ongoing maintenance. For those who question why we buy more land when some of what we already have is looking a little neglected, remember - park land that remains undeveloped is a bargain to maintain. Our regional parks and open spaces cost, on average $44 per acre per year for maintenance. Two hundred additional acres will cost about $9,000 per year to maintain. The Ute Valley Park Friends group is committed to covering at least the first five years and will lead volunteer projects that we can all support for years to come.
The Trails and Open Space Coalition has helped this Friends Group and championed this purchase every step of the way, as part of our mission to foster volunteerism and stewardship of parks, trails and open space. Thanks to all who made this purchase possible - especially Colorado Springs voters. To support the Friends of Ute Valley Park: www.friendsofutevalleypark.com
Susan Davies, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Colorado Springs
Look and feel like a second-class city
Having just returned from an extended road trip to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, this is what I saw and experienced: Well-maintained roads and highways and smooth neighborhood streets mostly void of potholes and craters. I did not travel on one road that was crack-filled with oil (or other material) with multiple horizontal and straight cracks within feet of one another - think of Woodmen Road westbound from Powers Boulevard. I did not have to avoid multiple craters at intersections or holes big enough to devour a tire. I did not have the feeling of "off road" driving being bounced from one crack or pothole to another.
The states and towns I visited certainly have their share of economic problems, but somehow, they have been able to provide their citizens with a safe, smooth ride, so why can't we? Colorado Springs is a great place to live but why do we have to look and feel like a second-class city? Terrible roads all over town, parks and city-maintained medians that are overgrown with weeds (or dirt) and, oh yes, street lights that are still not lit on roads and in our neighborhoods.
We are a first-class tourist destination but what do they see and experience while visiting? Frankly, I have been embarrassed while hosting friends and family from out of state, always feeling that I have to apologize for what they are seeing and experiencing. Perhaps a few less "task forces" and other such expenditures might provide a few extra dollars that could be redirected to our streets division so that quality maintenance and paving could be provided once in a while. This band aid approach to road repair is ridiculous and makes our city look and feel like less than it is or should be. Frankly, I expect more but it seems as if I continually get less. So, who are we really?
Steve Schwartz, Colorado Springs
Celebrate up-and-coming enterprises
In the early 1980s, there were an abundance of retail record stores selling "smoking paraphernalia" here in the Springs. The local citizenry along with the district attorney held the position that the availability of such merchandise was not in the best interests of the teenagers frequenting the establishments.
The sale of smoking paraphernalia was banned. My high-school-age daughter had two young male friends who immediately went into business making and selling pipes and home-made smoking hardware.
Within a matter of weeks they were reaping healthy profits.
Let's all celebrate our up-and-coming free-market enterprises. We will soon have hundreds and hundreds of citizens growing their six legal plants and a thriving underground economy will emerge without constraint. I am consummately baffled by the simple mindedness of our councilors.
Oh! Wait! The citizens actually get the government they deserve. The choices we made in electing our representatives was simple-minded.
Mike Neeley, Colorado Springs
Citizens are not always right
Writer Randall Kouba demonstrates a lack of understanding when he chastises the newly elected City Council for not obeying the "voice and vote of the citizens" vis-a-vis retail marijuana sales.
In the first place, citizens are not always right in their demands. Secondly, we elect people to represent community interests, not necessarily to do what a particular group of people want. Council members Val Snider, Joel Miller, Merv Bennett, Andy Pico and Don Knight considered all the implications of retail pot outlets and decided to a stand against them. Colorado Springs is a better city because of them.
Jere Joiner, Colorado Springs