Architectural necessity ...

To the Editor:

As architects for the Fine Arts Center's 1994 Taylor Museum renovations, we are familiar with the difficulties associated with working on this cultural icon (Outsider, April 5). Public censure for any alteration of the original design is a certainty. Yet, if this signature Colorado Springs institution is to be sustained into the 21st century, change must enable it to compete with others on an equal footing.

The need for an expanded Fine Arts Center is obvious. Too much of the current collection is in storage, because gallery capacity is full. The opportunity to book many traveling exhibits is denied the Fine Arts Center, because the existing 1936 building does not meet humidity control and other environmental requirements. Compliance would be prohibitively expensive. Modern new space is needed.

The question is, Where should the new space be built? The Fine Arts Center is bordered on all sides: parkland on the west, Bemis Art School on the north, the sculpture garden on the east and the parking lot to the south. Of the four options, the parking lot on the south would appear to be the least controversial. Yet that choice, having been made by the Fine Arts Center leadership, is raising opposition based on the assumption that an addition on the south will destroy the existing south faade. On the contrary, it is possible to create an addition to the south that will, far from destroying it, actually enhance the Fine Arts Center's famed south entrance.

Several years ago, we recommended vacating Dale Street along the south side of the building. This would permit creation of an entrance pavilion and a visual connection from the south entrance to Cascade Avenue on the east, giving the building a greater community presence. In the parking lot, the western hillside could be employed to site a new four-story building addition, with two floors of parking built into the hillside below grade and two floors above grade for new galleries and possibly a restaurant. The addition could be linked to the existing building with a transparent colonnade, perhaps entirely of glass, which underscores the park and the view to Pikes Peak while preserving the existing south faade as the entrance centerpiece. The addition architecture could employ the same palette as the existing building, with its entrance designed as a reflection of the original south faade.

Initial reaction to the need to restore a venerable older building to contemporary utility has been a public outcry typical of the response to change. It is always so. But change is inevitable and, managed sensitively, should be embraced. Study the problem thoroughly. Consider the options carefully. Create a competent, responsive solution. An addition to the Fine Arts Center could and should celebrate the original 1936 building. It should rejuvenate the Fine Arts Center. Indeed, without a major new addition, the Fine Arts Center cannot hope to compete with other cultural institutions into the 21st century.

-- Richard Lightle, NCARB, AIA
Lightle and Fennell Architecture,
Colorado Springs

... Architectural travesty

To the Editor:

I lived in Colorado Springs from 1950 through 1963, and I was tutored in an appreciation of architecture by two masters, Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, and the late George S. McCue, professor of English at Colorado College. I agree wholeheartedly with John Hazlehurst's observation that Mesa Verde, the Air Force Academy Chapel, and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center are truly great examples of fine architecture.

It is heartbreaking to even think of an addition to the south and west exposures, which would mar this masterpiece forever. Let us hope that somehow this proposed travesty will never occur.

--Donald W. MacCorquodale
MD, MSPH, Fellow, American College of Preventive Medicine
Over the Internet

A failure to communicate

To the Editor:

The proposal to fluoridate the Colorado Springs public water supply with an untested industrial waste byproduct, which contains detectible levels of lead, mercury and arsenic, was tabled this week to give the Colorado Springs Utilities Board time to produce something they already acknowledge doesn't exist -- a chronic toxicology study which would assure the water-drinking public that silico-fluoridated water is totally safe for human consumption.

William J. Hirzy, an EPA toxicologist, testified before Congress in June of 2000 that the long-term health effects of drinking water fluoridated with hydrofluosilicic acid are almost totally unknown, and that which we do know is disturbing. For example, a recent cumulative study out of Dartmouth University reported on over 400,000 children and determined that children who live in silico-fluoridated communities are significantly more likely to show elevated blood-lead levels (Dartmouth Press Release, March 15, 2001).

How is it that this untested industrial waste was almost added to our water? The culprit is a failure of communication. Anxious to preserve their reputation as the guardians of pure water, Colorado Springs Utilities was not forthcoming about the industrial origins and heavy metal contamination of hydrofluosilicic acid. This left the City Council members operating in a data vacuum when making the "fluoridation" decision.

Additionally, Colorado Springs Utilities was very motivated to keep the costs of the proposed fluoridation program low and the industrial waste version is the cheapest form of fluoride available. In turn, the City Council was perhaps too ready to trust the endorsements for fluoridation -- in general -- provided by local and state health officials and didn't ask the hard questions about the origins and track record of this specific industrial waste version. And many of us, myself included, unaware of what was happening in the decision-making bodies of our own community, slept through the process until expensive policy recommendations had been made.

In three months, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board/City Council will reconvene to hear public comment regarding this specific silico-fluoridation agent, hydrofluosilicic acid, and to ask Colorado Springs Utilities again for long-term human safety data. If you want an untested, industrial waste byproduct in your water for the prevention of dental caries, let the Council know. Before you make your decision, however, read the July 2000 edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Its cover story says the beneficial effect of fluoridated water is topical. Maybe we should "swish and spit?"

Kudos to all nine Council members; when they were presented with new information about this specific form of fluoride, they put the health of the community first before any other consideration. When the safety of the public is at stake, we should err on the side of caution.

-- Lisa McLaughlin
Colorado Springs

Comprehensive recycling program needed

To the Editor:

I was happy to see some coverage on the recycling problem here in the Springs ("Public-private Cooperation May Be Recycling's Future," April 19). The few resources available in the Springs for those who truly want to recycle are not convenient, not comprehensive and not in central locations. Not one single private trash collector picks up glass at curbside. If you want to recycle glass, you must transport it to Recycle America. Judging from the comments from folks on the street ("What have you done in the past year to help Mother Nature?"), there are plenty of Springs residents who do recycle already or who would if recycling was convenient. It would be wonderful to have a comprehensive municipal recycling program here in the Springs.

-- Marlene Hyer
Pikes Peak Green Party
Colorado Springs

Hoping for change and tolerance

To the Editor:

Yesterday many of us rose very early to be a part of the 82nd annual sunrise celebration for Easter Sunday. We began the day in the spirit of joy, celebration and diversity, since we, Sankofa African dancers and drummers, had been invited to both open and close this event in the Garden of the Gods.

Sankofa have worked to promote community here in Colorado Springs for the past eight years, in churches, schools and wherever they can. They pay no heed to color, race, religion, age or money, only to community energy and support of each other within it. Indeed, Sankofa itself contains a diverse membership from several cultural backgrounds, races and religions (including the most faithful, devout Christians I know). We were well aware that the theme of the event was to praise the Lord and we wholeheartedly joined the effort, having reverence for life, our ancestors, the sunrise, community spirit (essentially the teachings of Jesus Christ) and resurrection: of life, springtime, love, hope, and indeed also, of Jesus Christ. We were filled with God and performed a very energetic opening to the ceremony.

We were under the impression that diversity was also on the organizers' agenda, but were sadly mistaken. Upon requesting a microphone to describe the "Dance of Life" which was to be performed for the closing, Sankofa were first told that there were no microphones (despite the fact that someone was actually singing on one right then), then were interrogated as to what exactly was going to be said, if indeed they were to be granted that right at all. "Is Jesus Christ your personal savior?" was asked several times, to which "Yes" was honestly answered by Sankofa's founding members.

We are insulted. We did not perform again. We were allowed to be seen, but not to have a voice. How sad for those whose fears will not allow them to see that diversity promotes discussion and, therefore, more solid belief. Maxine Stores (of Sankofa) put it well to the interrogator: "Unless you begin to listen to us, you will never hear that we are saying the same thing."

One would think that we were the KKK being invited to a black church, by the strength of the repulsion. Not, as it was, as community strengtheners with others of the same mind and heart. In my humble mind, Christian means "like-Christ."

This letter is submitted in the hope of change and tolerance.

-- Daisy Dinwoodie
Colorado Springs


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