Mirror image

To the Editor:

In all of the understandable uproar over the Big Johnson Reservoir controversy, it became immediately apparent as to the mirror image of this situation to that of the Black Forest Regional Park.

The Big Johnson Reservoir was purchased with $8 million dollars of TOPS funding to remain as open space. Black Forest Regional Park was purchased with $320,000 of county funds (plus a land trade) and the public was promised it would remain parkland. In fact, citizens who inquired prior to the land transfer as to whether the land would remain parkland were told by the U.S. Forest Service that the county had, in writing, assured them the land would indeed remain parkland due to the federal act under which it was transferred.

Big Johnson Reservoir was to benefit the citizens as a wilderness area, and certainly was not intended to enhance a developer's profits. Black Forest Regional Park was to benefit the citizens of El Paso County as parkland, and not enhance a developer's profits by giving an entrance to a new development through a regional park.

[Councilman Richard] Skorman stated that to develop around Big Johnson Reservoir would be a violation of federal acts, including the Clean Water Act, Migratory Birds Act, and Wetlands Protection legislation [Letters, May 31]. Black Forest Park was transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to El Paso County under the Sisk Act -- a federal statute that requires the land to be used for the same purpose it was used for at the time of conveyance -- which was a park. Period. No part of the park was a thoroughfare.

Richard Skorman seems doubtful that the county commissioners would approve the rezoning for development at Big Johnson Reservoir. However, regarding the Black Forest Regional Park, the County Planning Commission has approved the road crosscutting the park, and from here it will go to the county commissioners. They will approve or not approve the development plan reserving a 120-foot road easement through the park. In fact, one county commissioner is already on record as being in favor of the road through the park. This, in spite of the fact that it is in conflict with a federal statute, raises safety issues, public trust issues, and is predicated on the fact of a specious land donation. This 200-acre donation would most likely have encumbrances and would be donated incrementally to the park during the next one to 10 years, with the loss of current parkland being immediate for the construction of the road.

The court date for the legal issues concerning the Black Forest Regional Park is in August. The county is proceeding with their approval process. Regarding the Big Johnson Reservoir, it remains to be seen how the county commissioners will act. Will it be in the best interest of the citizens of the county? Will they recognize federal statute? Will the commissioners be responsive to the wishes of the constituency? Time will tell. The county's actions thus far would not inspire hope for a positive outcome with the Big Johnson Reservoir.

Both parcels are important and worthy of preservation. Make your voice heard on these issues to the county commissioners.

-- Gary & Rebecca Schinderle
Black Forest

Forget the past

To the Editor:

The second paragraph in Nancy Harley's review of Breadheads [Appetite, June 7] included some unnecessary and inappropriate comments regarding the former Manitou Bakery and its patrons.

When is it necessary, in a restaurant review, to lash out at the establishment that existed previous to the one being reviewed? What does the one have to do with the other? I've seen many of the same patrons who sat at the Manitou Bakery's oak tables, sit at those same tables under Breadheads' proprietorship. As usual, everyone has his or her coffee or pastry while reading, writing, chatting with friends and neighbors, wrestling with toddlers, or simply staring into space no matter if it's in an atmosphere of "funky scruffiness" or "faux fiesta."

Please have a little heart ... and just review one restaurant at a time.

-- Lisa Balton
Manitou Springs

Let's all kick back

To the Editor:

Responding to Bob Campbell's article ["Park and Rec Fees on the Rise," June 7], a couple of comments spring to mind after reading Promise Lee's and Sam Dunlap's quotes. ... [First] we can't compare the city's rates to Denver's rates for the simple fact that we have a third of the population, so obviously Denver can afford more "free" programs. Rev. Lee then goes on to say that that the rates are "well beyond the means of many of the families in the neighborhoods around Memorial Park, especially if they have four or five kids." Well, excuse me, but I would think that four or five kids would be beyond the means of most families!

Then comes scrutiny of the sports programs in which you say "fees for participation can run as high as $37.50 per sport" for a couple months of coaching by volunteers. Eight or nine games: I figure that comes out to about 75 cents a day: It's not "free" but that's not too shabby.

Moving ahead to Sam's concerns that some kids are hanging at the mall, fighting, shoplifting and so on. Whose responsibility is it to keep these kids in line? The public's pools are not meant to baby-sit kids all day for $3.75. ... When I was a kid, we used to swim in a lake all day, we also used to fish all day for "free" [Prospect Lake]... and just goof off with friends without stealing hubcaps and ending up in court. What happened to sandlot games? They are still free last I heard.

Tell me, guys. What else can working folk do to help kids stay out of trouble? We already have Head Start, reduced or "free" lunches, welfare, LEAP and COPE for utilities, low-income housing ... but I guess as long as generations move forward from birth knowing that good things do come "free," then hell, no one will have to pull their own weight and we can all kick back.

--Rick Thurston
Colorado Springs

This is Chad complaining

To the Editor:

The last paragraph of Mr. Hightower's column [May 31] should rightly read "This is Jim Hightower complaining ..." His criticism of Dick Cheney's decision to continue to work in Burma despite human rights violations offers absolutely no solutions or alternatives and therefore should be classified as whining instead of as constructive criticism. But my guess is that Jim has no alternative or solution to the energy problems and would complain about any I would offer. How about nuclear energy instead of oil? Nope, too dangerous. Coal? Too dirty. Drilling in Alaska or offshore? No human rights violations there but I'll bet Jim doesn't like that solution either. Please, Jim, use your forum to offer me a viable solution to answer the increasing energy demands of our economy instead of a soap box for politically motivated complaining.

-- Chad Rueffert
Colorado Springs

It's that simple

To the Editor:

In recent weeks, many arguments have been made about the death penalty and Timothy McVeigh. We could argue forever about whether there is the possibility of mistakes, whether our justice system is racially biased and whether the poor and the wealthy have equal access under the law.

With all due respect to writers everywhere, these arguments miss the point. The real argument against the death penalty is that killing is wrong. It is that simple.

People may twist or interpret the words of the Bible to support their desire for vengeance, but it doesn't make killing a moral act.

Until humanity admits, despite its more base instinct, that killing another human being cannot be rationalized under any circumstances, society will remain mired in the endless violence that surrounds us today.

I pray for Timothy McVeigh's victims, for Timothy McVeigh and for every citizen in America.

Thanks to the federal government and the bloodlust of capital punishment, we are all implicated in killing, and we are all degraded.

-- Michael J. Kleckner
Eugene, Ore.


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