Living Off the Fad of the Land
Regarding your December 6 issue:
The Globeville family that Robin Chotzinoff wrote about in "Globeville Warming" is living a modern version of nineteenth-century village life like that described in a George Eliot novel. It is refreshing to read about people not caught up in getting and spending and "reinventing" themselves to conform to some brainless fad. It was a sweet story.
Speaking of brainless fads: "Who's the Boss?" by Michelle Dally Johnston, lands another well-deserved hit on the child-abuse industry operated by social workers, teachers and their true believers.
Westword does good work. I hope the "with-it" crowd the ads are aimed at realizes that.
Giving the City What Fore
Regarding T.R. Witcher's "Missing Links," in the December 6 issue:
I must congratulate you on the fine investigative reporting in the Denver municipal golf courses piece. A friend of mine told me of the story and I went out to get a copy. As an avid golfer, independent consultant and Denver resident, I found that I could save the city at least 90 percent of the fee charged by Monaghan & Associates through common sense.
During the past two years I have seen many improvements on the Denver courses which I assumed came through the lottery funds... perhaps not! Kennedy golf course built a new nine which had to be redone because the erosion of the grass required reseeding and a delay of the opening of play. Wellshire underwent new irrigation systems and the planting of many new trees. Overland received a new clubhouse, restaurant and pro shop that would rival any private country club under a very favorable lease condition with a private individual. Denver acquired Mira Vista (the old Lowry Air Force Base course) and has made many concessions to attract golfers to a mediocre course.
I hail the city for improving these courses; however, $57,000 to tell them how they incur additional expense is outrageous. If "Our Miss Brooks" thinks that $57,000 is peanuts, she can pay my taxes!
After reading Karen Bowers's December 13 story "One Last Gasp for Marlboro Country," about plans for a Marlboro train, my advice to Philip Morris spokeswoman Karen Daragan is this: Include not only fly fishing, rafting and ballooning in your Western itinerary, but also consider a side trip to the oncology floor of a local hospital to visit the lung-cancer patients.
You owe it to your passengers!
Jean G. Tuthill
The Light Stuff
Alan Prendergast's story on light rail ("Runaway Train," December 13) failed to take into account the key reason that expansion plans are moving forward: strong public support. As his own experience riding light rail confirmed, people love it! More people than expected are riding it, and the Park-n-Ride at Broadway and I-25 fills up earlier each morning, despite being expanded.
In February and again in September, overwhelming public support convinced the RTD board to move ahead with expanding light rail. In an April poll by News 4 and the Denver Post, 65 percent of the respondents said expanding light rail would be a good use of RTD money. Will it cost money to build? Of course, but compared to widening freeways, it's cheap. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates it would cost $600 million to widen I-70 from the mousetrap to Tower Road. In contrast, light rail from downtown to DIA would only cost $335 million, according to RTD.
Contrary to popular myth, autos do not pay their own way. Counties and cities in Colorado pour nearly half a billion dollars a year of their own money into road construction, maintenance and other highway costs. This subsidy comes from property and sales taxes and other non-auto-related revenue, according to data collected by CDOT.
The Denver metro area will add nearly a million more people in the next 25 years. If we continue on the road (pun intended) we're on, that growth will cause a Los Angeles-style nightmare of sprawl, congestion and smog. If that isn't the future we desire, then we'd better do some things differently--including building a light rail system.
Colorado Environmental Coalition
I disagree with the thrust of "Runaway Train"--that light rail should not be built. I believe it is very important to give people public transportation options that are fast and convenient so that we can reduce automobile use.
We are driving our automobiles more and more all the time. Auto use is increasing at a faster rate than population growth. In a few years, the gains we have made in cleaning the air through catalytic converters and other technology will begin to be reversed by the increase in vehicle use. As the article points out, light rail is not inexpensive, but I would challenge the author to suggest a less expensive, viable alternative to getting people out of their cars and onto public transportation. Prendergast also takes issue with the low fares, which cover only a portion of operation costs. Does he think highways are paid for by the users only? We all pay taxes to fund highways, clean-air programs and related needs. Low fares for buses and light rail are essential in getting people who already own cars to use public transportation. I think it is wise and essential to invest in light rail now.
As a musician in the Colorado Symphony, I see the traffic and parking problems downtown every week. If light rail is extended to Littleton and other areas, it will provide the thousands of people who come to the Performing Arts Complex and other downtown attractions a good alternative way to get there. Otherwise, we will have more and more violations of the federal air-quality standards, as we did recently on the evening of the Parade of Lights.
Let's get on with it and build light rail!
In Alan Prendergast's story on light rail, he talks about the subsidies that RTD gets and implies that a disproportionate amount of public funds flows into mass transit. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States puts less public money into transit than almost any other industrialized country in the world--and it shows. We also have the largest subsidies for the biggest guzzler of tax dollars: the private automobile.
The real story is the billions of dollars of public money that go into building roads and providing parking designed to make it easier for more people to drive more miles while spewing more air pollution. User fees such as the gas tax pay for less than half of the direct cost of providing and maintaining the infrastructure and services required to keep cars running.
At the Metro Growth Forum's concluding regional summit October 21, a clear commitment to light rail was made because goals were adopted that call for full development and funding of alternative transportation systems, including light rail, in the metro area, as well as development of increased RTD funding for light-rail rapid transit. These recommendations express the desires and wishes of citizens who are concerned enough about the future of their community to spend their own time trying to understand the issue and work out solutions that are supported by a consensus of citizens from all metro areas, all income stratas, all occupations and all political philosophies. As a participant in the whole process, I call upon our local and state government officials to heed the voice of the citizenry and move forward with light-rail plans.
Michael J. Mueller
Alan Prendergast's story on light rail missed several crucial points that need explanation. First and most important, the people in the metro region want light rail. His article completely overlooked the overwhelming public support for expanding light rail. This support is easily exemplified by the overflowing park `n' ride at Broadway and I-25, which is beyond capacity.
Second, light rail is subsidized, but so are our highways. As we know, we face a serious dilemma in Colorado: We do not have enough money to build and maintain our transportation system. Current figures show that we will have money for maintenance of this system, with little left for expansion. Is this deficit only for transit? No! The gas-tax revenues do not cover all of the costs for highways; local taxes as well as federal funds are used to maintain and build highways. Colorado is one of a handful of states that do not have a state souce of revenues for transit. The issue is the need to raise flexible fund for all modes of transportation.
Last, transit is an important tool to combat air pollution. Particulate pollution, which is comprised of fine dust particles that become lodged in lungs, is caused by tailpipe emissions, and the grinding of sand, dirt, roads and tires. Particulate pollution is directly related to the amount of miles we drive; the less we drive, the less we pollute.
With the great amount of growth facing the region, now is the time to work for cleaner solutions to our air quality problems. Building out a transit network in the Denver metro region, which would include both light rail and commuter rail, will provide citizens with cleaner options, which will result in lessened congestion and improved air quality.
Clean Air Attorney, CoPirg
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