RFTA board must change tracks
Dear Editor:Over 100 years ago, my grandfather crossed the prairie in a covered wagon and settled in Colorado – at a time when trains and trolleys were part of the way of life. So, as a third generation Coloradan, it saddens me deeply to learn that the RFTA board is dismissing a bona fide proposal from Armitage, a successful Colorado enterprise, for an excursion train from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale – without even the courtesy of considering this viable enterprise – based on the fact that the RFTA board doesn’t want to spend the time to consider it! Time? What about the last 100 years? What about the next 100 years? What possible justification can we give our grandchildren that we didn’t want to take the time to consider this proposal to restore a historical treasure for the public’s enjoyment for generations to come? The RFTA board owes it to history to think with vision for the future, to be accountable for their decision, and to approve this venture as a viable operation, given that the numbers make sense. Why?Armitage proposes to lease the rails from RFTA for $120,000 a year with a 10-year agreement. Compare that to the current offer to salvage the iron rails for $500,000, and you will see that the leasing of the rails exceeds the salvaging income to RFTA over the next five years and doubles the income to RFTA over the next 10 years. Furthermore, RFTA would not be limited as to how it could use those funds. I am told that if RFTA sells the rails, there is a moral and ethical question as to whether or not those funds could be used for RFTA’s operational expenses. Furthermore, Armitage proposes paying RFTA 25 percent of their profits, above $500,000, for 10 years.What is there in this proposal not to like? Nothing – if the RFTA board will just take the time to focus on the Armitage proposal and give it their approval. It is irresponsible of them not to do so.Clearly, an excursion train between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale would bring economic benefit to the businesses of both towns and would add value to the Roaring Fork Valley in general. So what are we waiting for? The RFTA board seems to be on the wrong track – that of selling the rails instead of putting them to use as they were intended long ago – and for all time. With a deep sense of history, as well as a sense of economic benefit, I implore the RFTA board to change tracks, respect the history that made this magnificent state a passageway from East to West, and approve the operation of an excursion train from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale. Your grandchildren will thank you, and generations to come will thank you.This excursion train is in the best interest of preserving an important part of Colorado history, but you must take action now before the opportunity is lost forever. Susan O’NealAspen
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