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Developers deserve our thanks

(Editors' note: The following letter was sent to the Friends of the Animas Valley. The author also submitted it to the Durango Telegraph in an "attempt to inject some balance" in our editorial coverage and "uncomplimentary cartoons of development issues in Durango.")

Dear Friends of the Animas Valley:

I recently visited your website. In doing so, I was amused, offended and perplexed by some of its content.

My amusement stems from your misidentification of the Parkside Terrace Townhomes as "Gateway Condos." If you're going to take sniper shots at projects, please doso with some degree of accuracy and evidence of responsible research. I know this project well, and I'm offended by the unfair innuendo you project.

I'm perplexed because this "gateway to Durango site," asyou call it,was previously an eyesore, a broken-down trailer park and less than complimentary visual introduction to Durango. Shortly before the developers took over the site, a woman lost her life in an unfortunate fire in her trailer. The housing was unsafe. (It's also unfortunate that some of our people are forced to live in such conditions.)

The hillside below the trailer park, opposite Santa Rita Park, was littered with debris (including old mattresses, beer cans and junk), which no one cared enough to remove, not even theCity of Durango,even though the debris was adjacent to the City's Animas River Trail. The developers cleaned up the hillside. If not Parkside Terrace townhomes on this site, what would you have in its place, another dog park?

The developers bent over backwards to help relocate residents from this area. Some trailer park residents and neighborseven went before the City Council to voice their support and praise the developers. The developers also did everything in their power to keep the prices of the townhomes as low as possible. I asked them why they chose to do a low-end priceddevelopment (vs. expensive units), their response was, "...because it's something we'd like to do forour community." Thank the City's stringent policies for the prices developers must ultimately ask for their products.

We should profusely thank such developers, not attack their good intentions. They're not only creating sorely needed new housing (often in areas that comprise poorly utilized land, such as behind Home Depot), they're creating jobs and pouring money into the local economy. Is that bad? They're doing more forour economy than LEAD and other headline-grabbing, horn-blowers who do little by comparison!

With all the government "lip service" regarding "affordable housing," or the lack thereof, I must ask why you are critical of developments such as Parkside Terrace that: (1) provide attainable housing within the city limits for people who previously could only afford to rent or were forced to commute over long distances daily to Durango, (2) provide intelligent in-fill in areas that were previously a blight on the landscape and poorly utilized land (in this case within walking distanceof Park Elementary School), and (3) represent a good faith effort by the developers to provide quality housing in the lower price range. Ask any Realtor what type and how much housing exists here under $300,000! The answers will shock you!

Your focus should be redirected at the City of Durango and La Plata County governments. You needto pressure them to initiate and prosecute sincere and productive efforts to provide affordable housing. You, the Durango Herald and Durango Telegraph choose to point fingers and criticize developers. Wrong target! The various planning processes and commissions within the City and County exact a pound of flesh from virtually every developer, discouraging many from even considering the process. Added costs are not borne by the developers, they are passed along to the buyers. Why "tax" homebuyers for the shortcomings of government? What does that accomplish? Government has the power to condemn, take by eminent domain,and tax. They have the power to solve the housing problem; they obviously choose not to, or lack the will to do so.

Private developers are not responsible to provide affordable housing, government is. How many new housing units have the City and County added in the last three years? If they are sincere in their affordable housing "programs," they would: (1) be creating budgets to target and acquire land (before it's all gone), (2) provide incentives (not obstacles)to entreprenuers to build affordable homes by having government shoulder the acquisition cost of thatland, and (3) reassess their overly aggressive rules, regulations and personal agendas when evaluating various development proposals. (Dark skies is an example, the compliance for which the Cityconveniently excused itself.)

Finally, I'mpuzzled whythe City and County tolerate so many visual eyesores on this beautiful landscape. Drive up Wildcat Canyon, along CR 203, even Highway 550N. Check out the blight. Doesn't anyone care? Don't we have ordinances and codes to prevent or correct it? We have strictly enforced "sign codes," for example, but blight is ignored. And, we can't condemn unsightly trailer parks because government has failed to provide viable alternatives for their occupants. Our people have to live somewhere!

Instead oftrying to "Save the Animas Valley," why not try to reclaim it frominept government and idealists? Instead of unfairly slamming developers, why not take a pro-active position thatsupports"attainable" housing for those currently priced out of the market? Economists predict that Colorado's population is expected to double between 2005-15. More housing is needed for young people who grow up here, those priced out of the market, older citizens and the inevitable newcomers. Let's get real about development!

Edmund P. Andersson,

via e-mail

Impeachment is in order

Dear Editors,

I think the time has come when Americans should consider impeaching George W. Bush.

He let 9/11 happen. He started a war with Iraq justifying it using faulty intelligence. More Americans in Iraq have been killed since the war "ended" than were killed in the war itself, and democracy in Iraq seems further away, not nearer. He has made enemies of former allies. He has authorized torture of suspects around the world in violation of international and American law. He is not just incompetent, he is evil.

Only with an independent investigation can these charges be proven, and impeachment is the right way for such an independent investigation to take place.

Tom Trottier,

via e-mail





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