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Annexation will facilitate development of Canyon

To the Editor:

Just as Tom Kay felt compelled to comment on several earlier letters regarding Red Rock Canyon, his letter (March 22) also requires a response.

The Red Rock Canyon Committee is a broad-based, regionwide effort to preserve a natural extension of the Garden of the Gods and protect its important historic, geological and archeological treasures as public open space. We are not an environmental group nor are we anti-development or a neighborhood group saying "not in my back yard." We do believe Red Rock Canyon can be the centerpiece of an unparalleled regional park and open space system starting at the Garden of the Gods on the north and continuing to Section 16, Bear Creek Park and Cheyenne Canyon on the south.

Red Rock Canyon is important open space. It is highly rated in the Colorado Springs Inventory of Natural Features and by TOPS. It is identified as an open space goal in the new Colorado Springs Comprehensive Plan and as a high priority for conservation in the El Paso County Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan.

We know the property includes damaged and degraded areas, some with significant environmental problems. We agree that the right partial development scenario could balance preservation of the most valuable features of the property with appropriate use of the degraded areas. The proposal made by Zydeco, the Santa Fe developer represented by Mr. Kay, offers no such balance. In it, Zydeco would get the most coveted portions of the property and the city is asked to pay an inflated price for two disconnected, lower quality open space parcels that will primarily benefit the residents and guests of Zydeco's development.

Annexation is not a requirement to preserve Red Rock Canyon and its treasures. Annexation's only purpose will be to facilitate development. Some argue that failure to annex will constitute a taking. Annexation is a privilege, not a right and will be a "giving" not a "taking." It would substantially inflate the value of the property at little or no cost to the owner or developer and increase the cost of any open space purchased by the city.

Mr. Kay says we are not discussing the issues but when an alternative to Zydeco's open space proposal was suggested and supported by several organizations at a recent TOPS meeting, Zydeco withdrew its offer rather than discuss other options. Zydeco has not responded to our standing invitation to present their position, unedited for content, in our monthly newsletter, the Red Rock Rag.

--Joseph E. Fabeck
Chairman, Red Rock Canyon Committee Manitou Springs

Hot air from the White House

To the Editor:

This week President Bush walked away from his campaign pledge to pass legislation reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This is a betrayal of the American public and a blatant giveaway to the polluting industry that funded his campaign. Bush's decision is tantamount to burying his head in the sand in order to avoid addressing the potentially devastating consequences of global warming.

To justify his reversal, the President relies on fuzzy math and misleading connections to the California energy crisis. Last month the President cited California's problems to justify drilling in the Arctic, and this month he's using California's problems to justify giving the polluters a break on global warming. However, the enormous costs of increased droughts, floods and infectious diseases show that we can't afford to ignore the problem.

Extreme weather events cost the United States $14 billion in economic losses in 1999 alone. Serious consideration of comprehensive power plant legislation is underway. With members of Congress now taking the lead, the debate will move forward.

As it does, we hope that the Bush administration will reverse this misguided position and keep its promises to the American public.

-- Ted Pascoe
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Bush's energy crisis a ploy

To the Editor:

Once again the Bush "pulling-the-wool-over-our-eyes" trick is at work. Remember "read my lips"? Little Georgie learned well from Daddy. And his PR people. Threaten us with an energy crisis, then get green lights for more offshore drilling and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness. The environment be damned. (By the way, kudos to Nader, who helped put into office the most anti-environment president ever.)

Bush talks about a new energy policy. Translation: new ways to drill for more oil, more ways for Daddy's friends to gobble up more money. (I'm doing real good, huh, Daddy?) What a joke. Doesn't he know his energy crisis ploy is the oldest trick in the books and we can see right through his fear tactics?

Furthermore, this is not an energy crisis, this is a consumption crisis. Cars are bigger, and most of us are carrying one person per car. We still don't have acceptable and working public transportation that will let us cut back on cars and oil. And we have no national energy conservation program.

Since the 1970 oil embargo, industry has had 25 years to develop and design alternative transportation, alternative cars, etc. Zilch. We float men in space but can't take a train to Denver. We clone life and buy gas guzzlers.

But what does Georgie care? He's an imposster.

--Jim Ciletti
Colorado Springs

Where does Barley really stand?

To the Editor:

As an 18-year resident of District 3 and president of the Broadmoor Bluff's Homeowners Association, I have worked with several Council representatives over the years. Recently, I received one of Ms. Barley's campaign brochures in the mail. Much of the negative information it contains is misleading -- if not outright false.

In our neighborhood, Ms. Barley has consistently voted for variances to existing zoning plans. Her recent vote to rezone major portions of a 33-acre plot from residential to commercial will significantly increase both the density and grid lock that our residents already encounter at the intersection of Farthing and Broadmoor Bluffs Drive.

Ms. Barley's campaign literature stresses that she: "Voted to preserve and protect existing neighborhoods." If so, it must have been someone else's neighborhood. It wasn't the one we live in.

My vote is for Sallie Clark -- she knows what it takes to preserve our neighborhoods!

-- Fred H. Wisely
Colorado Springs

Road would have negative impact

To the Editor:

The Pikes Peak Group of Sierra Club, with 1,300 members in the Pikes Peak region, has serious concerns about the proposal to extend Milam Road through El Paso County's Black Forest Regional Park. Our ongoing review shows numerous negative impacts to wildlife habitat, recreation, public safety, and environmental quality would result to the park should the proposed road be built. There is also the imminent potential that Black Forest Regional Park, or a portion thereof, might revert to federal ownership, if any alteration takes place in the purpose for which the park's lands were transferred from the United States to the county.

The Pikes Peak Group has been active in supporting Black Forest Regional Park. When the El Paso County Commission wanted to stop lease payments to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for the park in the 1990s, we, along with many others, spoke out successfully in opposition. When the land transfer between the USFS and the county occurred in 1999, we supported this transaction as a positive step in assuring the permanent well-being of the park lands, not just for the people of Black Forest, but also for those of the entire region. In this agreement, the USFS exchanged land with El Paso County to the benefit of both partners. El Paso County also purchased additional land from the USFS and these combined parcels became the county-owned park we know today.

At the time of the land transfer agreement in 1999, there was some opposition to the exchange from some individuals fearing that the land might wind up in non-park development if the USFS no longer managed it. William R Nelson, district ranger of the Pikes Peak Ranger District of the Pike National Forest, responding to citizens' concerns in a letter dated Jan. 5, 1999, stated: "Your inquiry expressed concerns relating to the future land use as a regional park. Our understanding is that El Paso County will continue to manage the land as a regional park. Additionally, under the Sisk Act, (which provides authorization to the Forest Service to exchange land with a county government) lands conveyed to El Paso County may be used only for the purposes for which they were being used prior to conveyance."

The Sierra Club was quite confident that non-park development was an impossibility at the time of transfer. We were wrong. Little did we know what could happen regardless of the legal protections guaranteed in this agreement. Establishing a high-speed road through the entirety of the park for the convenience of a proposed subdivision, Cathedral Pines, would destroy the inherent beauty and detract from recreational value of the land and is not, we feel, in accordance with the purposes for which the land was transferred. A strong possibility exists that some of Black Forest Regional Park could revert to federal ownership. Such a chaotic situation would diminish the value of any potential new park lands dedicated by the new subdivision. A bird in the hand, at this time, is worth two in the bush.

The extension of Milam Road through Black Forest Regional Park would continue the trend of degrading county parks begun when the recent extension of Baptist Road severely degraded Fox Run Regional Park. As such, this is more than a legal, environmental, or public safety issue. It is a question of public trust in the sustainable management of the county park system.

-- John Stansfield
Conservation Chair
Pikes Peak Group of Sierra Club

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