A-LP keeps tight lid on records
Citizens' Progressive Alliance (CPA), a group opposing the Animas-La Plata project, pushes for an
investigation of the project's cost overruns, it also is struggling to have documents disclosed.
The CPA filed Freedom of Information Act requests for 14 separate documents in late August. It was
told that six of those would be withheld and that $718.50 would be charged to view the remaining
In a July 31 letter to its partners, the Bureau of
Reclamation explained that the water project's original cost estimates of $337.9 million were
dramatically low. New estimates had risen to $500 million, a jump of nearly $163 million, or 50
percent. The CPA has charged that this radical underestimation was a deliberate attempt to squeeze
the controversial A-LP project into existence. Steve Cone, the CPA's A-LP project coordinator,
remarked: "Our view is that the initial cost estimates were purposely and monstrously low-balled
simply to rally public opinion and get the shovels in the ground. The Bureau of Reclamation never
came clean and has still not come clean on the real costs of this project."
Cone said that the deception is now continuing with the
bureau's reluctance to open its records. "They're claiming there are certain documents that they
will not make available," he said. "And it's interesting because the response has been that they
will charge some pretty stiff fees to pull some stuff off the shelf."
Cone said that the bureau's fee amounts to a $46.80 per
hour charge, a sum beyond the CPA's means. Consequently, the original request for 14 documents has
now been narrowed to two. These are correspondence and records on Harza Engineering's role in the
formulation of the cost estimate and a copy of the Cost Estimate Notebook.
"We don't have that kind of funding available at this
time," Cone said. "That's one of the reasons we've had to narrow the request."
city council's nod
After a 4`BD
hour meeting that was described as a "knock-down, drag-out," the Durango City Council voted
unanimously Tuesday to grant three requests made by the owners of the Smiley Building. The
requests by the arts center had drawn opposition from the East Third Avenue Neighborhood Boulevard
Association and been rejected by the Durango Planning Commission.
Smiley Building owners John and Charles Shaw and Lisa
Bodwalk had requested amendments to their operating agreement to allow a caf`E9, specific new
commercial tenants and more flexibility for the building's five residential units. The requests
drew determined opposition from the Neighborhood Boulevard Association. After the Planning
Commission's rejection, and prior to Tuesday's vote, Carol Withers, Boulevard Association
president, commented, "We love the Smiley Building and the Neighborhood Association was a part of
figuring out the original operating plan. We would like to see the original intent remain."
John Shaw took a different view of the Neighborhood
Boulevard Association. "At the meeting between 30 and 40 talked on our behalf," Shaw said. "I
think five or six people spoke against it. They were the same five or six people who spoke against
the project at the beginning, and the same five or six people that have been against everything
Shaw said that while the Smiley Building had a difficult
time getting to last Tuesday's vote, the support has been astonishing. "It was a drag to have to
go through this process, but it was also really galvanizing to have all these people come together
around the building," he said. "I am humbled and proud of this project and what everyone had to
say at that meeting."
units coming to Edgemont
eyes have been on River Trails Ranch, Grandview and Ewing Mesa, the La Plata County commissioners
approved a significant change to the Edgemont Ranch conceptual development plan last month. With
the change, Edgemont Ranch, located roughly five miles east of Durango, now has the go-ahead to
build an additional 1,033 units. However, the development gained preliminary approval 20 years ago
for 1,295 units and a golf course.
La Plata County Planner Nancy Lauro noted, "Basically,
they've had a big development approved out there since the early 1980s."
Juanita Sauvage, La Plata County planner II, said that in
addition to a reduction of 262 units, Edgemont Ranch also eliminated the proposed golf course and
dedicated 500 acres as permanent open space.
"He's transferred the golf course property to open space
and reduced the number of units," she said. "Because there are fewer units now, there will either
be larger lot sizes or more open space."
trails reopened at Vallecito
salvage work to remove hazard trees at Vallecito Reservoir was completed early this week, and as a
result, Forest Road 603, the East Vallecito Road, on the east side of Vallecito Reservoir, has
been reopened. The North Canyon (No. 656) and Graham Creek trails also were reopened. Forest
Service officials did caution users to be alert for logging trucks and stormy weather
"While we've removed a lot of hazardous trees in the area,
visitors should remain alert and watch weather conditions," said Dave Baker, Long-Term Restoration
Team Leader. "There are still lots of trees in the burn area that could come down on a stormy
or windy day, and there are plenty of areas that could experience debris flows or mudflows during
The Forest Service still has plans for a fuels-reduction
project for the area along the east side of Vallecito Reservoir, including the campgrounds and
along the road.
- compiled by