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Council, culture and City Aud

To the Editor:

For the benefit of your readers, I would like to clarify my recommendations to City Council concerning the City Auditorium [Culture Vulture, April 4]. I have suggested the formation of a broad-based committee of citizens representing various ages and interests who would be tasked with a review of the Auditorium's mission statement. This committee would report to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board whose recommendations would then go to City Council, which is standard procedure. I would ask the committee to honor the expectation that this city-owned facility would continue to be available at affordable rates to the many community organizations that wish to hold their events at the Aud. It should also consider the events staged by outside organizers, which are also significantly revenue-producing.

I have no intention of creating a committee that would censor or control. Setting aside the question of standards (where personally I believe it appropriate for the City's leaders to offer some direction), my objection to raves and similar "concerts" is based on public-safety issues. According to our police department and the management of the Auditorium, certain of these groups are strongly drug-oriented. Police reports and observations of others who have witnessed the scene indicate considerable illegal activity occurring on this city property. I fear that many citizens interpret the raves as being endorsed or condoned by the City, and I raise the question whether raves and the behavior they provoke are consistent with the image most of us prefer to have for Colorado Springs. I worry about the City's liability should there be injurious, even life-threatening consequences of illegal activity -- overdosing, for example.

I hope that the committee that Council plans to convene would also take a visionary approach to the future of the Auditorium. There is interest in the community in encouraging more use of the facility for "cultural" activities (there, I've said that apparently unpopular word) for performances, classes, rehearsals, etc., and for events that cannot afford, or be accommodated by, the Pikes Peak Center and the Fine Arts Center.

It would be ideal if grant money could be obtained to restore the Auditorium to its former dignity, and I see potential with this citizens' committee for another successful public-private venture.

-- Judy Noyes
City Councilmember
Colorado Springs

Keep up the good work

To the Editor:

Thanks to Cara DeGette and the Independent for excellent investigative reporting on the issues surrounding public health in our county ["Medical Alert," March 14 and 21]. The Independent's two articles on public health have shed much-needed light on the conduct of the Board of County Commissioners Chair Tom Huffman and County Administrator Terry Harris, who aligned Information Tech Director Bill Miller and Benefits Director Jeff Green in their attempt to control the autonomous Board of Health and ultimately strip away resources of the Department of Health and Environment.

The autonomy of the Board of Health is jeopardized by the fact that the Board of County Commissioners appoints them, and the Health Department relies on the county for approximately one-third of its budget.

Only Commissioner Jeri Howells has had the insight and fortitude to buck the commission chairman's actions. Howells has steadily given her support to the Board of Health's request to appoint a physician to the Board of Health and has assured Health and Environment staff of her continued desire for them to do their job without interference from the commissioners.

This appears to be only the tip of the iceberg in abuses of power in the Board of the County Commissioners and its administration department. Honest and hard-working county employees should not be pressured by administrative staff to compromise their professional integrity by ruling inappropriately to satisfy Commissioner Huffman's desire to stack the Board of Health with his chosen members. Karen Rooks Nauer, a new Board of Health member, certainly appears to have a conflict of interest since she is an employee of a company that is under million-dollar-plus contracts with the county and the Board of Health.

Why aren't the other county commissioners joining Commissioner Howells in questioning Huffman's tactics? Keep up the good work, Ms. DeGette and Mr. Langeland. There is much yet to be uncovered in the operation of county government.

-- Jim Alice Scott
Colorado Springs

Rally for Red Rock Canyon

To the Editor:

A century ago the Garden of the Gods was private property. A gracious landowner, Mr. Perkins, helped the city acquire the land, which is a major attraction and asset for millions to share each year.

We now have a chance to double the size of the park. Red Rock Canyon and Section 16 together are larger than the Garden of the Gods, providing a more intimate, healthier, car-free environment that is equally as spectacular.

Imagine a 10-kilometer loop with a sidewalk parallel to a softer dirt trail where runners can be next to road bicyclers, next to rollerbladers, next to mountain bikers, next to parents with strollers, next to a father teaching bicycling to the kids.

Imagine only adding a few inexpensive flat pullouts to make this park the best in the world for wheelchair citizens, wheelchair athletes training or citizens on the rehab. A world-class wheelchair park awaits us, unique to the world.

Imagine another 10 miles of single-track trail, with two or three dog-run park loops at different sections, where neighbors get to meet other dog-loving neighbors.

Imagine a section for equipped rock climbers. An outdoor world-class competition wall using the natural rock.

Imagine a trail skirting the perimeter of these beautiful Red Rocks, where we invite every Native American tribe to add artwork to these rocks at ground level, and we make a modern world-class Kokopelli Gardens.

Imagine an intimate open amphitheater in the Rocks to hold only a thousand or so folks for events. Morning Tai-Chi, afternoon aerobics, intimate music settings. A place for weddings and festivities.

Imagine a picnic area only a quarter mile from Highway 24 so quiet you can hear a pin drop, a bird sing.

This dream is what I imagine, a landmark for our community that

millions will share and benefit from for centuries to come. It is time to pool together and purchase the Bock property and Section 16 to forever remove these unique treasures from a developer's grasp.

I am a conservative Republican who has seen our quality of life go downhill (and cost of living vs. national average go uphill) for the last 26 years from the constant sellout to developer interests. I don't mind saying that I have fought (as part of a group) to stop the development at Red Rock Canyon for the past two years. City ordinances have been passed; we replaced an un-representative mayor in Manitou and successfully influenced the council races in Manitou and Colorado Springs. The effort has been tremendous, and you can take a part to make this dream come true.

Take five minutes out to call or write your City Council person or TOPS representative. We in Manitou are ready to match dollars per capita with our neighbors in Colorado Springs and El Paso County to share this treasure with all. Imagine the beauty and dream we all can share, 'cause a few folks like you will take a minute to care!

-- Rick Laurenzi
Manitou Springs

No mercy

To the Editor:

What a thought-provoking, sensitive and heartbreaking article Kathryn Eastburn wrote -- "Rough Justice in Park County" [March 28].

I am disenchanted by the lack of understanding and the depth of ignorance of those, like judges, who truly do not understand social and emotional problems in our schools today and our kids. I am not saying that Isaac Grimes should not pay for his crime. He and his family both admit he should. I am not saying that a terrible tragedy did not take place -- with many victims. It did. But to place this boy with no friends in a men's jail for his whole life with no hope of assistance, understanding and professional help is appalling.

God help us that we do not understand our children and mental illness and its problems in this country. I know there are many more out there like Isaac. I will write to his family and support them in any way I can.

-- Sharon Edwards
Colorado Springs

Homeland insecurity

To the Editor:

As a responsible parent, I have taught my daughters not to allow anyone to touch them without their consent, especially strangers.

But when my terrified 5-year-old daughter violently refused to submit to a full body search and hand-held metal detector sweep at Colorado Springs Airport, I was ordered to pin down my kicking, screaming, crying child so that the security guards could frisk her and check for weapons. (She was wearing a tank top and shorts, so I'm not sure where she was supposed to have concealed her weapons.)

Is government-sponsored physical abuse of preschoolers really necessary for national security?

-- Eve Bailey
Pearland, Texas

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