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Just words on paper

(Editors' note: The following letter is in response to one printed last week that criticized environmentalism and likened it to a new "fundamentalism.")

Dear Editors,

Howdy everyone in Durango from Austin, Texas. Yes, Texas.And remember, Austin is a completely different state of mind from the rest of Texas.

I have been visiting Durango every year or three since about 1970, doing my part to add to the pockets of your fishing, 4-wheeling, camping and outfitting businesses.What a change has taken place in your city!About the only thing that hasn't changed is the location of the narrow gauge tracks!Durango could probably be the best place on the planet, and I know that a letter to the editor about environmental fundamentalism does not represent the core of this fabulous place.This letter (environmental fundamentalism) could be related to a concept mentioned in the previous letter about trophy home building inasmuch as it seems to be trying to relate the standard politically conservative soapbox on environmentalism that the majority of trophy home owners seem to exhibit.

The folks that make up the majority of people in the Durango area can't afford a trophy home, but they do know the value of environmental advocacy. The science is out there.Some of it is bogus, but so is some of the political, economic and foreign policy of our current conservative administration. Ya'll do your own homework. Don't let the standard conservative mantra dictate your beliefs.The "information" in the "environmental fundamentalism" letter is just so many words. Not one ounce of data against environmentalism was given in this letter. Just like the vast majority of the "marketing" that the Republican Party presents. Just words on paper. Do your own research.

The carbon content of our atmosphere is 50 percent higher than at any time in the last 120,000 years.This fact is corroborated by deep ice-core data from both poles of our small and fragile planet. The increase in carbon in our atmosphere is directly correlated to human industrialization of this planet.What does this mean?I don't have a clue. And, I am an environmental scientist. But I do know that when you push any system far beyond its normals that different things happen. Who cares if an endangered species goes extinct?Well, only a few people really, but it is not the endangered species that matters.Endangered species are an indicator of the fragility of ecosystems. When you start to see the most fragile aspects of any system changing, whether environmental, economic, mechanical, chemical, etc., this is an indication that the whole system is changing. Is that bad?You decide.

Do your own research. Advocate truth. Vote. You can make a difference!

Bruce Melton, Austin, Texas

The politics of affordable

Dear Editors,

While Will Sands' article about affordable housing and the proposed Regional Housing Authority was helpful in understanding the status of the issue, there are two quotes of mine I want to clarify to avoid misrepresentation.

First, the quote that funding for the housing authority would be "paid for by developers' fees," refers only to the money an affordable housing developer gets from various funding sources to pay for putting the project together and administering it, not fees paid by local developers. There are currently no fees that local developers pay to assist affordable housing.

Second, the quote that "it took La Plata County a while to get on board" should in no way be construed as a criticism that La Plata County government was dragging its feet. I was not referring to La Plata County government, but rather, La Plata County as a whole community, both rural and urban, as compared to Archuleta and Montezuma counties. The article makes clear, rightly so, that La Plata County Commissioner Bob Lieb played the lead role in spearheading the formation of the authority.

Greg Hoch, Durango city planner

Give Durango a voice on growth

Dear Editors,

I am a resident of Durango anda Realtor whose livelihood is directly impacted by the outcome of over-development, unbridled growth and density issues and their negative effect on Durango's future and quality of life.

My experience as a Realtor is that Durango sells ITSELF because of the market niche that it so rightly occupies. Factors that go into creating that niche are all badly threatened by the prospect of growth that is not VERY, VERY carefully managed. What I have to sell as a Realtor is unique to the area. Potential buyers will surely find Durango much less attractive if we lose our present small town feeling and culture, ruin our quality of life and reduce the unfettered access to outdoor recreational opportunities and open space.

Wehave a very uniqueand privileged opportunity to vote on any proposed large developments that come before the City Council and Planning Commission. The Citizens' Responsible Growth Initiative is that opportunity.It is a chancefor the residents of the city of Durango to have more of a direct influence on growth issues and to raise the level of awareness of these issues while building an even stronger partnership with our City Council. It will provide an opportunity for the residents to vote on wholesome growth for the area growth that will not change our small town but 4 rather enhance its wonderful quality of life. Remember, what we want is "Better, not Bigger!" The projected population of 40,000 city residents isunacceptable.Let us not ruin our community and sustainable economy by allowing dense developments to say nothing of the negative effect rampant growth, increased trafficand high density will have on our tourist industry.

Don't you wish you had had a chance to vote on whether that huge development just east of the college should have been approved? The once beautiful green hills are now covered with a dense housing development. Grandview was approved how much good judgment and forethought went into that approval process?It this what we want to continue to happen?Do these dense developments fit into the small town feeling that we have grown to know and enjoy? It appears our voices and concerns have not been heard. We have the opportunity to not let this happen again. Enough is enough.

Because of the Responsible Growth Initiative and voting impetus, I believe developers will be much more motivated to provide a project in keeping with the unique aspects of our community and provide us with a product that does not erode the features of Durango that make it so attractive.Certainly, one of these key ingredients has to do with density as addressed by the Responsible Growth Initiative.

In a recent Durango Herald survey, 68 percent voted in favor of having a voice on growth and development. As a Realtor, I feel the Responsible Growth Initiative provides that voice and allows the City Council to clearly hear the wishes of the residents. The Responsible Growth Initiative provides an opportunity forcitizens to participate in the development and growth process.

Wise decisions on our future growth and development are what we ALL want and need to keep our beloved Durango as special as it is. People of Durango, Help save Durango! Let your voices be heard!

Vote YES on a Responsible Growth Initiative and ensure a bright and better future for Durango.

Judy Fairchild, Durango

Let the people guide growth

Dear Editors,

As a Durango resident who is interested in preserving and improving the beauty and "Quality of Life" in Durango, I would like to respond to the Aug. 3 Durango Herald article, "Councilors may have broken law" regarding Councilors Zink and Garland and Mayor Colgan's attendance as a quorum at a Homebuilder's Association breakfast. I can't help but wonder if this is what the councilors mean when they lecture us about representative government. Who exactly were those councilors representing when they attended that breakfast? Is this why we citizens should sit back and let the councilors make all the decisions for us? While Councilor Garland suggests that the councilors "get invitations to a lot of different meetings," the difference here is that as a quorum they discussed a legislative matter. That is a clear violation of the Open Meeting Law. Renee Parsons, president of Friends of the Animas Valley, wanted to attend the breakfast but she was told that her presence would not be appropriate.

The article did not mention that the Homebuilder's breakfast was a strategy session to defeat the Responsible Growth Initiative. It's difficult to believe that those three councilors just happened to drop by unexpectedly for a cup of coffee. To suggest that, "oops a mistake was made," is not acceptable. Elected officials ought to be familiar with the requirements of the state's Open Meetings Law. If, as Councilor Garland suggests, he didn't know the others would be present, it was his responsibility to bring it to his peers' attention and leave the meeting immediately. For Councilor Zink to suggest that "no harm was done" is a further indication of how far removed our elected city officials have become from who they were elected to represent. In a KIUP talk radio program, Councilor Zink stated, "At the top of my wish list is that we could know for sure what the sentiment of the entire community is." The Responsible Growth Initiative will provide an avenue through voter approval and make Councilor Zink's wish come true.

The Responsible Growth Initiative is not a no-growth plan. As it is named, it is a Responsible Growth Initiative. It directs growth to areas supported by public infrastructure. It will preserve our "Quality of Life." It protects the downtown business district from national chain big boxes and strip malls. It gives the citizens of Durango a voice on density, open space and major land-use decisions. It will protect the beautiful Animas Valley from the return of the 800 high-density development of River Trails Ranch through IGA annexation. I am confident of the integrity and responsibility of the citizens of Durango to make well-informed decisions. Vote yes for Responsible Growth.

Stephanie Cooper, Durango

Don't forget the PEAT

(Editors' note: The following letter is in response to the recent series on racial issues in Durango and the lack of mention of the Prejudice Elimination Action Team.)

Dear Editors,

The Durango Herald and The Durango Telegraph share significant omissions in recent reporting. In her letter to the Herald , July 29, Victoria Romero Coe describes one of the academic/cultural programs, sponsored by Durango Latino Education Coalition (DLEC), the Journey Through Our Heritage. Another DLEC sponsored program, The Prejudice Elimination Action Team, an anti-bias education and activism club, received no mention.

As community leaders and activists bridge gaps in perception and reality, the voices and programs of individuals and organizations deserve recognition. On the surface, these omissions seem discriminatory. More deeply, they raise questions that reflect the need for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission public hearing on racial discrimination.

From blatant bigotry to systemic institutionalized inequality, we Americans need to champion One America for all Americans. Kudos to 4 Corners Safe Schools Coalition, Los Companeros and Sage Remington for their work in this area. Get on board, Fort Lewis College.

Marsha Cohen & Kathy Barrett, Durango





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