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The Bigger Johnson open space plan

To the Editor:

As a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of the Big Johnson Open Space, I would like to share my perspective on the TOPS purchase and recent news about potential development around the reservoir shoreline.

The original candidate area in the city's open-space plan included over 3,000 acres and extended south from Drennan Road across properties owned by the airport, Cygnet, Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company and Fountain Valley School. The first application to TOPS for the Cygnet purchase came from the County Parks Department, and I filed a subsequent application related to the airport property. From the earliest study of the candidate area it was evident that there were complicated issues, multiple jurisdictions, and many potential players (mentioned above) including the City Utilities Department and the State Land Board.

I shared Trust For Public Land's view that the Cygnet acquisition was a catalytic purchase in the long-range goals for this open-space area. This central parcel was an essential piece and, by itself, valuable to the prairie habitat, but its acquisition was only one step. Many of us will continue to advocate for permanent protection of grassland on the airport property and riparian habitat at Big Johnson Reservoir and nearby on the Fountain Valley School campus. The Colorado Springs Utilities lease, in my opinion, buys more time to craft a method for reservoir preservation and bring together many possible partners.

I view the advertised high-end development around the reservoir as unfeasible for many of the reasons mentioned in Richard Skorman's letter to the editor. Often, TOPS' staff are pressured to save by purchasing land which is marginally developable or can be protected by alternative means. Let's not overreact. Our energy as a community should not be focused on assigning blame that the irrigation company will explore any new advantage (even if remote).

City staff, citizens and other partners must continue efforts to implement the grand plan for the entire Big Johnson candidate area.

-- Jane Titus
Colorado Springs


It's not going to happen

To the Editor:

I'd like to set the record straight concerning the information given City Council on the purchase of open space around Big Johnson Reservoir. Although it is understandable that some Council members may have been confused because the reservoir and the open-space candidate are both called Big Johnson, the information given to Council clearly explained that the land we might buy didn't include the land around the reservoir or the reservoir itself. In fact, Phil Tollefson, director of Colorado Springs Utilities, expressed his concern in a memo to Council that if TOPS purchased up to the water's edge, it might encourage human contact with the effluent water in Big Johnson Reservoir, creating liabilities for CSU.

Regarding the issue of whether the land around the reservoir would be developed, I never figured that homes could be built on a floodplain, below the airport's fight path, next to a reservoir with a sewage smell. It's just not going to happen.

-- Judy Noyes
Council member-at-large


Smokin' gouda

To the Editor:

Wow, what a great story ("Gouda Vibes," May 31)! As a long-time fan of the String Cheese Incident and former resident of Colorado Springs, I must say that is the most fun I have ever had reading an Independent cover story. I felt like I was with Kristen Sherwood every step of the whey.

Thank you for helping me get pumped up for my summer dose of fresh queso. Twenty-five days 'til the Red Rocks Incidents!

Shine.

-- Scott Robertson
Over the Internet


The Ellicott solution

To the Editor:

The parents and students of Ellicott needn't worry that the rebuilding of their devastated high school will not be aided by local, state or federal disaster funds.

Undoubtedly, preeminent grandstander Steve Schuck ("He Cares More About Your Child than You Do," the Gazette, June 2) will be more than happy to finance tuition and transportation to a superior, exclusive, tornado-proof private school for every last one of those lucky little twisters.

-- George Migash
Colorado Springs


Skip Pearl Harbor, rent Billy Elliot

To the Editor:

I couldn't agree more with Kathryn Eastburn's review of the movie, Pearl Harbor.

Where would Hollywood be without wars and disasters, always exploiting death, destruction and the suffering of others for monetary gain?

Of course, we can't objectify the problem, as we (the general public) support it (by buying tickets). We get what we deserve.

Hollywood does the same thing that advertising does. It exploits our unconscious fears and desires. We are manipulated in a way we don't (yet) understand (or aren't conscious of).

I stopped paying for Hollywood movies about five years ago (maybe my age...?) Why? The adolescent myths they choose no longer function for me.

Hollywood is all about money and power, and that means exploiting the public's unconsciousness big-time. When are we going to grow up?

If you want to see something uplifting for a change, rent Billy Elliot, a small film from the U.K. -- about the human spirit! It's impossible to make these kinds of films in "Hollydread."

Remember, Hollydread is the sideshow of the circus.

Keep up the good work!

--F.A.H. Dalrymple
Colorado Springs


Please reconsider

To the Editor:

Please publish our open letter to the community and the El Paso County Commissioners:

On May 18, the Friends of Black Forest Regional Park and El Paso County compromised on the temporary restraining order to allow the County to continue its planning process for the Cathedral Pines subdivision, while continuing to prohibit the construction of Milam Road through the Black Forest Regional Park.

On May 22, the El Paso County Planning Commission met and voted to approve the entire development plan for Cathedral Pines including the extension of Milam Road through the park. We find the following points to have been poorly and inadequately considered by the Planning Commission.

1) The DOT recommendation was to maintain the Milam extension as a major transportation corridor. It was then stated that this would be difficult to obtain because of the problems associated with the section of Milam Road from Old Ranch to Shoup Road. Why is the 120-foot corridor maintained?

2) The Black Forest Trails Association recommended approval of this plan because of the 208-acre proposed land donation by the developer. A review of the proposed donation shows that equestrian use would be restricted to one narrow east-west and north-south corridor. In addition, it was not made clear what other limitations would be placed on this donated land, only that these would be "worked out" in meetings prior to final platting. This is in direct conflict with statements from the County Planning Director who said that land donated to the County would have to be unencumbered and that citizen input would be heard prior to any restrictions being put in place.

3) The proposed land donation would come in phases over a period of the next one to 10 years, whereas the loss of existing park property would occur immediately with the construction of the Milam extension. Any claimed benefit of additional parkland may not be forthcoming for years.

4) The preliminary plan was approved even though the developer does not meet the current water or septic requirements. Plans to meet these two critical considerations must be in place prior to final platting.

5) The plan for the extension of Milam Road was approved in spite of the habitat and environmental damage that would occur within the current parkland as described by an environmental expert from the University of Colorado.

6) There was relatively little community support for the Milam Road extension. Most citizen support came from those who feared increased traffic and safety issues on ancillary roads. The commission ignored the 1,300-plus signatures on petitions opposed to any road through the park and the 1,300 members of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Sierra Club whose representative spoke out against any road extension through the park.

Only one planning commissioner recognized the specious nature of the land donation. Mr. Hiser indicated that the 208-acre land donation was exactly that which was required to be maintained as open space under the one unit/five acre overall density requirement. This "donation" relieves the developer from future maintenance of this land and provides significant tax benefits.

As quoted by a citizen from Manitou, this approval by the Planning Commission has set a precedent to endanger every other park in El Paso County. This approval violates the spirit of the agreement between the Forest Service and the County promising not to change the use of the property.

In conclusion, we recommend that county commissioners oppose the plan of the extension of Milam Road through the Black Forest Regional Park. This plan is opposed by a significant number of citizens and has several points that are of major concern.

-- Gary Schinderle, Franklyn Blaha
Friends of Black Forest Regional Park


Elephants' wisdom

To the Editor:

If you haven't seen the most recent addition of The Green Elephant, the newsletter of Republicans for Environmental Protection, it is worthwhile reading the lead article: "It's a Political Crisis, Not an Energy Crisis" by Jim Scarantino and Dr. Gerald Leigh.

Here are some notable quotes from the article:

"Even if we drill in every wildlife refuge and put oil rigs off all our coasts, we will still have no more than 4 percent of the world's reserves. Yet we consume 25 percent of the world's production. We delude ourselves if we think we can drill our way to energy independence."

"Instead of throwing millions more at the boondoggle of 'clean coal,' we could create a market for photovoltaics and fuel cells, just as the government jump-started America's dominance in computer technology."

"It has been five years since our Republican Congress prohibited the federal government from studying fuel efficiency. And now [ex]- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott seems to have invented a new right -- call it 'the right to waste' -- to justify retarding progress: 'The American people have a right to drive a great big road hog SUV if they want to. And I'm going to get me one.' -- [Ex]-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) as quoted in a Roll Call interview published March 12, 2001."

"No one can effectively mount an argument against efficiency. The alternative to efficiency is waste, and who wants to defend that side of the debate?"

Cheers!

-- Rob Ament, Executive Director
American Wildlands
Bozeman, Mont.

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