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About a mall, Springs' political history, slumlords, and more



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Reinventing the mall

I'm guessing I'm a generation older than the author of "Trapped in the dying mall" (cover story, Dec. 17). But I hope Chapel Hills doesn't fade away.

Bryce Crawford sees "the whole economy trending toward niche-ification" and online buying. Perhaps so. But when you're searching for undergarments that fit right, or an interview outfit, or gifts for the whole family, it's convenient to have a wide variety of stores close together with easy parking. Also, strolling inside is appealing on many cold, snowy days in Colorado.

I hope the mall can be reinvented to suit the changing times. Maybe more artisan shops, more local food, less glare, more coziness. Yes, bring back a place to sit, read, and drink coffee. Create a feeling of community, rather than a showcase for chain stores. That could be a lot more fun than staying at home and waiting for UPS.

— Lenore Fleck

Colorado Springs

Hidden messages

"Red-blooded" (News, Dec. 3) by J. Adrian Stanley wasn't about "why Colorado Springs is so Republican." There's a much stronger subtext about exploring the mental workings of a political science graduate and wondering how a young Republican mind ticks. What motivates/steers/finds justification for still being a Republican despite those historical benchmarks?

What stunned me, after reading it, then re-reading it, unable to just let it go, was how this young Republican knew the facts and assimilated them in his mind. It wasn't about telling the historical truth — he did that very well, and he knows his history. It was the underlying way of rationalizing it, incorporating it in a deeper mental framework, that still finds being a local Republican honorable, worthy and justifiable.

It wasn't about "why" the KKK close Colorado Springs — "white and conservative" — but because there were no Jews and immigrants here. It wasn't about "representation" in the Labor Wars but "helping Springs Republicans organize ... It's a story of control, it's a story of power." It wasn't about right-wing religious fanaticism, but capital and jobs.

Lastly: "Not necessarily religious groups, but the Springs elite attract the kind of people they want to live here." Am I crazy or is this a contradiction?

This interview was about body-language and a particular mindset more than just local history. I hope Ms. Stanley is aware of what she really explored.

— Richard Hiatt

Colorado Springs

Rental risk

There is a growing problem of poor-quality rental properties in Colorado Springs. I understand why so many families settled here and never left; unfortunately, many either didn't have or didn't want to spend the money to keep their homes in good condition. When whichever elderly relative died or went into a home, the family was left with a house that sat on the market, primarily because it was too expensive to repair it.

They may not be able to sell it, but there is nothing to stop them from renting them out to people desperate for housing.

Something must be done about slumlords renting out houses with wildly sinking foundations, sewer systems not updated since the house was built, plumbing haphazardly updated since its first installation, decrepit heating systems, electrical systems not replaced since the 1930s, boilers on their last leg, and roofs that make contractors shake their heads in disbelief.

For example, my current house has no heating source on the upstairs floor. It was a reasonable expectation that there were either heating vents or radiators on the top floor; when I brought this up to my landlord, he told me (in complete seriousness!) that it was "the first he heard of it."

Colorado Springs talks about wanting to get bigger and better. It's not hard to get bigger, but to get better, you need to make sure people have a decent place to live, a place where sewer pipes aren't constantly broken and leaking, the lights don't flicker when you walk across a room, you can put up a bookcase without fear of it leaning and then tipping over, the furnace doesn't strain the electrical system ...

You don't need to convert every property into a castle, but you do need to hold irresponsible landlords to higher standards.

— Carrie Peterson

Colorado Springs

Three cheers for SET

You know those whiny old folks who complain they are on fixed incomes? I'm one. But I've found a wonderful little theater I can still afford with no steps to climb. It is called Springs Ensemble Theatre, SET for short, and is one block east off Union on Cache la Poudre in an unassuming little building with parking close.

This is the third presentation I have seen and loved them all. This new Christmas Shorts is delightful with the addition of The Rogue Spirits musical duo, who are truly original. They even passed around plates of homemade cookies to the audience.

— Colleene Johnson

Colorado Springs

Ditch the dinosaur

Dear Clean Air Lovers: One of our greatest eyesores (and lungsores) is the existence of the Martin Drake coal-fired power plant in the heart of our city (i.e., the proposed City for Champions). Among other toxins, Drake spews sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxides (NOx) throughout our city.

At one point we had 16 air monitoring stations, but that number has since been reduced to four "because our air is so clean." Many large U.S. cities, including dirty Los Angeles, have pledged to go coal-free in the near future, yet our non-visionary CSU officials stick with dirty coal because it is a "cheap" source of electricity. Translation: It is a cheap up-front cost, but the associated health costs are borne on the backs of the citizens.

CSU is now installing scrubbers to address Drake's pollution problem, not out of concern for our health, but because the EPA is forcing the issue. The original bid for these particular Neumann scrubbers, which no other city uses, was a reasonable $20 million, but the price has since skyrocketed to over $130 million. This, while they're removing only SO2, and not CO2 or NOx.

Meanwhile, despite over-running the budget by over $100 million, the CEO of CSU is getting a nice $100,000 raise (being phased in through 2016). At this rate, he will be making more than the U.S. president by the end of next year! To pay for these untested scrubbers, it appears that our electric rates will be going up by 5.5 percent.

What citizens need to do ASAP: Demand that the defunct air monitoring stations be placed back online so that citizens can monitor their air 24/7. And demand answers to why we are pumping so much money into this old dinosaur, which should really be shut down!

— Nicole Rosa

Colorado Springs


Owing to an editing snafu, we published an error in last week's "Trial by Twitter" letter, which included a discussion of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, not the Eighth. We regret the error.

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