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Make existing visitor center work

Aspen Times writer

(This letter was originally addressed to the Aspen City Council.)

Dear Editor:

First, let me state that I have no involvement with the Galena Street Lofts. However, I have strong reservations against putting the visitor center at Main and Galena. I feel that it is a too congested intersection and the site itself is too small. It is like putting 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5-pound bag.

I would suggest that since Mr. Lowell Meyer is so willing to work with the city, that there is no reason to make a hasty decision. Certain problems have been brought up regarding our existing visitor center; summer is coming, let’s fix them!

For a modest expenditure of funds, we may find our current center works quite well and it has one advantage over the proposed site because it is right next door the easiest parking in town.

These problems were brought up at the City Council meeting, they are quick and easy to fix:

1. Signage – We absolutely need more and better signs, probably at the west entrance to town, at Main and Mill (both directions), on Galena for pedestrians, at Spring to route Independence Pass drivers into the center by the back street and save them the congestion on Main Street, and to and from and inside the parking garage.

2. Parking – Add more by changing the HOV spaces to the east of the center to more 15-minute visitor parking and give every first-time visitor a free pass to the parking garage for the rest of his first day.

3. The center – Spruce up the entrance with more flowers, signs and benches. Spruce up the inside and give visitors easy access to the restrooms.

Do this now and we may all be pleasantly surprised. We may solve our problem sooner and cheaper and with no construction mess.

Thank you for your consideration.

Georgeann Waggaman

Aspen

Sopris geology lesson

Dear Editor:

I enjoyed reading the Times’ recent articles on the Roaring Fork River. The more we all know and understand our valley’s environment, the better we can appreciate and protect it. However, let’s keep the facts straight.

In “Reading the Roaring Fork,” Mount Sopris is referred to as a volcano that has spouted lava now found on the shores of the Fork. Though this is a pretty common misconception, it is way off base.

Ask any ninth-grade geology student in the local schools, and they can tell you it is actually an intrusive igneous feature known as a stock. The entire mountain was formed by an underground reservoir of magma, which cooled long before it reached the surface. Rather than forming any lava, this magma cooled slowly to form quartz monzonite.

The lava rock in the area is likely from the Basalt Mountain shield volcano just upstream. Sopris’ conical shape comes from glaciers and erosion.

Andre Wille

Aspen High School

Basalt

Help needed for Wall

Dear Editor:

Volunteers are needed to assist with the upcoming Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall, a free event to be held May 20-24.

The Wall in Aspen (open to the public 24 hours a day) will need help on Thursday for setup and Monday for breakdown (call 948-6884).

Volunteers can also help out by serving as hosts, staffing the computer or The Wall, or participate in a variety of other activities. Call Stephanie (923-5435) or Brenda (948-9585) to sign up.

Stephanie Fitzpatrick

Brenda Bragassa

Aspen

The truth is out, my work is done

Dear Editor:

By now it should be clear to everyone that “Operation Iraqi Freedom” will never succeed as long as the U.S. and British military occupation continues. The Iraqis are proud, strong and determined, much like Americans. They will fight as hard for their independence as our forefathers did for ours. The good news is that someday the Iraqis will be free and in control of their own resources. The bad news is as long as our soldiers remain in Iraq, there will be more shocking videos and more savage senseless deaths.

We train our soldiers to dehumanize the enemy so their conscience won’t interfere with their ability to kill. Then we expect them to retain their conscience while acting as prison guards over the “inhuman” enemy. War has terrible consequences far beyond mere battle. It fuels hatred, abuse and revenge. This is what I’ve been saying all along. War is ugly.

When I began my letter writing campaign in September 2002, it was because I felt the American public was being misinformed and misled. I believed that if Americans understood the consequences, they would not support the invasion of Iraq, and public opinion would prevent the Bush administration from carrying out their hideous scheme of war profiteering.

By filling the void left by the media’s unwillingness to expose government corruption and address the human cost of war, I became the target of public ridicule. Regardless of attacks on my character and numerous pleas from opponents, friends and family to just shut up, I was committed to bringing truth and reason into a world of lies and madness.

My accusations against the Bush administration have now been confirmed by numerous high-office revelations of White House deceptions. My warnings about the brutality of war have been justified by videos from both sides showing disgraceful acts and hideous savagery. The truth is finally being revealed in mainstream media and there are many other community members writing informative letters, so this will be my last letter concerning Iraq and the Bush administration.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged and supported me, and also to my opponents, who helped further my campaign to inform our community by participating in the public discussion. Special thanks to Jay Pate, who inspired many more letters than I would have otherwise written. Aside from his harsh criticism of my naivete and idealism, I’ve enjoyed the debate. I believe our disagreements are only a result of different perspectives.

From my perspective, there are better ways of resolving conflict than resorting to violence. Jesus taught it, Gandhi proved it, Martin Luther King Jr. employed it, and many others have worked in nonviolent ways to affect societal and political change.

Violence can never defeat terrorism, it only changes the players. The way to combat terrorism is by making government policy changes that remove the incentives for terrorists to act against us. It is up to us common folk to hold the power elite accountable for their actions, the consequences of which affect us all.

Peace,

Sue Gray

Carbondale

Clay Center: Labor of love

Dear Editor:

Since this is the week of the Carbon-

n see Letters on page A13

n continued from page A11

dale Clay Center’s annual shindig, I would like to say a few words about that fine nonprofit organization.

All you have to do is take a look around this valley to see the many things the Clay Center has brought us – public art, classes for all ages, renowned instructors. It’s a school, a getaway, a place where people can create art, a studio, a gallery and more.

Basically, the Clay Center is a labor of love, created by and for people who recognize the importance of art in our lives.

Putting on its exhibits and benefits takes the work of many dedicated volunteers, who do it for the love of this fine local institution. Cajun Clay Night is one of the times the whole valley comes together to greet old friends and make new ones, and to show their support for art in this valley.

I hope to see you there! We need your support.

Sandie Gardner

Carbondale

Hockey kudos

Dear Editor:

If you see Tyler Moore, Maggie Melberg or Paul Jenkins around town, offer up a hearty congratulations and a job well done. These three athletes from the Aspen Junior Hockey program recently participated in the USA Hockey, Rocky Mountain District, player development camp in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Just getting to the district camp is no small feat. All three of these hockey players participated in the Colorado state tryouts, where they made the cut to move on to the district camp. While at district camp, they competed with and against hockey players from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas for spots at the national camps.

At this point, I don’t know if any of the three are moving on; but no matter, their dedication and commitment to hockey is unquestionable. I can tell also tell you from personal experience that it is a pleasure to be on the ice with these athletes since their skills are only surpassed by their positive attitude and pleasant demeanor, even during the heat of competition.

Hamilton Tharp

New Castle

Bair Ranch a rare opportunity

Dear Editor:

During the last 10 months, I have read and heard most of the reasons for and against the Bair Ranch project in Glenwood Canyon.

I’ve found that most people who oppose this simply lack understanding. They have been hit with the sound bites from the strong opposition of “no access,” “dude ranch,” “not visible” and “not developable.” They say our money should go to projects like Sylvan Lake instead.

Well, I ask, is Sylvan Lake highly visible? “Well, no.” Do you get into Sylvan Lake for free? “Of course not, it’s a State Park!” Have you seen Bair Ranch from Coffee Pot Road to see the wide open spaces that are prime for development? “Actually, I haven’t.” (The Bair Ranch has been identified in a study by the American Farmland Trust as “at risk for development by 2020.”) Did you know that the primary “commercial” activity on the ranch is sheep and that the Bairs offer very limited activity only to supplement their income? “Actually, no. I thought the sheep were long gone and that this was a full scale dude ranch.”

In regard to public access, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) says it best in their strategic plan. “GOCO recognizes public access is not the primary objective of many land preservation projects nor is it always appropriate. This is especially true in the case of lands preserved with conservation easements, primarily agricultural land, where private landowners still own the property. Adequate public benefit is received in these cases from the preservation of wildlife habitat and view corridors.”

There are those who oppose this project simply because they oppose the tax-initiated by Referendum 1H. This is an easy one to defend. It is an argument for another time and another day. The fact of the matter is that the tax is being collected and based on the ballot language, the Bair Ranch project meets all of the criteria set forth in that referendum. Specifically, “… preserving wildlife habitat, protecting working farms and ranches, conserving scenic landscapes and vistas, protecting wetlands and floodplains, providing public access points to rivers and streams … .”

Then there are those that oppose this because they don’t like conservation easements. Conservation easements have been identified by GOCO as the method of choice for protecting open spaces. Because demand for GOCO grants has outpaced dollars available by 3-to-1, the board stated in their current strategic plan, “The Board prefers the use of permanent conservation easements, which allow GOCO funds to go further than with fee title acquisitions while at the same time contributing to maintaining a working landscape.”

While there are many parcels that are more desirable in Eagle County, to purchase these in fee would be cost prohibitive with open space tax dollars, currently generating approximately $3 million a year. The two that are frequently cited are the “gravel pit” in Edwards, which is currently under contract for $12 million, and the Jouflas property in Wolcott, which will require at least that much.

Eagle County has a rare opportunity to protect forever the 4,830 acres of the Bair Ranch. The facts dispute the sound bites, pure and simple. Listen carefully to the opposition and weigh their comments against the testimony provided by experts in the field – Department of Wildlife, BLM, GOCO, and Dr. Alan Carpenter (a naturalist who has spent hours examining the wildlife, flora and fauna on the ranch).

Jennifer Scroggins

Eagle

Thanks for the prayers

Dear Editor:

My family and I would like to thank all those who offered their best wishes and prayers and expressed their concern, support, encouragement and love for Kelly and Jenny.

Both are back home and doing extremely well. Kelly’s new kidney is up and running, and Jenny is already briskly walking five or more miles a day. We are all very grateful. Thank you.

Spencer Schiffer

Aspen


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