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Monumental action, messy Manitou Incline, free parking, and more

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Editor, 235 S. Nevada Ave., CS, CO 80903 • email: letters@csindy.com

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Monumental action

Congratulations to President Obama for proclaiming Browns Canyon a national monument on Feb. 19, using the powers granted him by the century-old Antiquities Act. Cheers to Coloradans and all Americans who enjoy, support and preserve our invaluable public lands, including the small, but beautiful natural treasure that is Browns Canyon. Appreciation goes to the stewards who manage the area's wildlife, grazing, primitive recreation, land and water regimes. Such resources provide substantial economic and social benefits to Chaffee County, Colorado and the nation.

Unfortunately, these benefits and overwhelming public support for Browns Canyon go unheeded by Congressman Doug Lamborn, whose district includes Chaffee County. Mr. Lamborn's calling the Browns Canyon designation a "big government land grab" makes as much sense as calling people car thieves for driving their own automobiles.

Hiding behind language of disinformation, Mr. Lamborn and others in Congress and the Colorado Legislature are pushing a poorly researched campaign to seize control of public lands. The true land-grab attempts stem from these public land opponents. But the lands belong to the people. We cherish and want to retain them.

Mr. Lamborn states that "multitudes of local citizens" have expressed concerns about the new national monument. If he attended the Dec. 6 government hearing on Browns Canyon in Salida, he would have seen and heard an overwhelming percentage of monument supporters among the 500 to 600 in attendance. If the congressman consults the 2015 Colorado College State of the Rockies bipartisan poll, he will learn that 84 percent of Coloradans support "presidents continuing to protect existing public lands as national monuments."

Now that's a multitude.

— John Stansfield

Larkspur

The other rider

I was glad to read J. Adrian Stanley's experiences of commuting by bicycle around the Springs ("Back in the saddle," cover story, Feb. 18). It sounds like she rides like I do, avoiding main roads and using trails when possible.

I'm hoping someone will write an article about the other type of bike rider, the type I encounter frequently. These riders ride on main streets during morning rush hour, instead of on parallel streets with little or no traffic. They ride two or more abreast in heavy traffic, weaving back and forth, having scintillating conversation. Many flatly refuse to ride in the bike lane right next to them, or sometimes the bike path six feet off the road.

I've even seen, on several occasions, riders stopped in the middle of the road, fixing their bikes. Can't be bothered to get on the unused sidewalk — they are legitimate vehicles, after all!

And, oh man, the fury they unleash when anyone honks at them, in an attempt to keep them safe. Don't forget ignoring traffic laws, riding at night without proper lighting, in dark clothes!

These riders need to take advantage of one of "the five Es," education, and feel some enforcement, too. Where are the articles about these guys? Where is the pledge of some personal responsibility from the bicycle community? They sure are ready to cry about the bad drivers!

— Jacques Sears

Colorado Springs

One for Makepeace

In their recent mayoral endorsement, Colorado Springs Forward got it right but wrong. The values they use as criteria for endorsing a mayoral candidate — connectedness, credibility, collaborative and cognizant — are essential, but their choice of John Suthers doesn't measure up.

We do need a mayor who is connected, but not primarily to politicians in Denver and D.C. While Suthers was working in Denver for years, Mary Lou Makepeace was engaged in our city, working with local leaders and in community philanthropy.

We need a mayor with credibility. But not credibility as a lawyer, statewide politician, criminal prosecutor or corrections administrator. As a successful past mayor of Colorado Springs, Makepeace beats all the other candidates in her knowledge and skill in making our city work.

We especially need a collaborative mayor, to shed the animosity between the city council and mayor's office, and who will work with the community. This is perhaps Makepeace's greatest strength. She did it before — in 12 years on Council and six as mayor — and can do it again.

CSF says Suthers is cognizant because he "understands the financial, political, and community issues affecting our City." If he does, it's because he's been catching up after years working for state agencies and outside of Colorado Springs. Or, maybe it's because CSF's power players are telling him what they want him to understand.

Makepeace is cognizant of our community's wealth of smart, talented and committed people who, if engaged, will help make our city great. Her role in shepherding the community process that brought us the first Springs Community Improvement Program resulted in over $100 million in infrastructure funding without raising taxes, including building America the Beautiful Park.

Let's elect the candidate with the greatest ability to move our city forward and upward: Mary Lou Makepeace.

— Barb Van Hoy

Colorado Springs

One for Suthers

"Opportunity" seldom knocks twice.

For perhaps the first time in the history of Colorado Springs, we have an opportunity to elect a mayor who can pick up the phone and speak to the governor on a first-name basis. Please, let's not waste this opportunity.

John Suthers for mayor.

— Charles M. Prignano

Major, USAF, Retired

Making a mess

Since the Manitou Incline re-opened Dec. 5, fitness enthusiasts have been building their endurance on this spectacular stair-stepping ascent, and residents of Manitou's west side have been building their endurance of the endurance trainers.

For an all-too-brief period, we were blessed with the ability to navigate our neighborhoods relatively unimpeded, while construction helicopters flew in timbers overhead, daily, dawn to dusk. Even on Thanksgiving Day, those choppers were thwapp-thwapping overhead to meet someone's deadline and keep those hikers happy.

Now, we're hearing rumors that the city of Manitou is eying property at the base of the Incline to build a 300-car parking lot. By my calculations (based on an average stay of three hours per vehicle) this would add an average of 3,600 cars per day on top of the grandma-speed sightseers who inch along Ruxton Avenue after trying to figure out what a roundabout is.

Let me just point out that everybody is pretty much an asshat at a roundabout — myself included.

It's time for enthusiasts who exercise outdoors to spread it out a little. Why not check out Section 16, Red Rock Canyon, Stratton Open Space, Monument Valley Park, Palmer Park, Gold Camp Road...?

More importantly, it's also time for Manitou to consider a limited growth/limited development policy. The infrastructure of this town can not support the daily mass arrival and departure of SUVs on what are, essentially, horse-and-buggy trails, nor can it support the shortsightedness of public officials and developers aiming to increase their tax revenues and personal bank deposits.

Find your fun and investments elsewhere. I just need to get home to let my dog out before he craps on my carpet — and when he does, I blame it on you and your granny-speed-sightseeing, roundabout-impaired, where-do-I-park exercise routines.

Sorry, it's all a tad upsetting.

— Jeff Bieri

Manitou Springs

Free parking, please

Is the decline of downtown Colorado Springs a bad thing or just a normal part of a city's natural cycle? Commercial real estate tends to go through cycles of decline and then redevelopment naturally. Downtowns get run-down, rents get cheap, and innovative entrepreneurs utilize the cheap, established infrastructure to revitalize and renew the downtown. This is a natural process and does not require tax money.

University Village on North Nevada is much nicer than our downtown in one major respect — free parking. The Shops at Briargate complex enjoys the benefits of free parking.Belmar Mall in Lakewood functions as Lakewood's "downtown" and was built on the ashes of the Villa Italia Mall. It enjoys a mix of paid and free parking and provides a wonderful pattern for downtown Colorado Springs. Shop-front parking is metered, walking-distance parking facilities are free. The result is that Lakewood's "downtown" has a Target and other big boxes that co-exist with specialty shops.

Colorado Springs should not take on a 30-year bond debt to build a stadium, but instead retire the bonds for the parking structures it currently owns and convert them to free parking.

Colorado Springs Airport would benefit from free parking as well. Through November and December parking was free, and according to the news the loss of parking revenue was offset by increased passenger revenue and lowered payroll costs. This suggests that free parking at our airport should be the norm.

— Tim Haley

Colorado Springs

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