Urges Continued Support Of EPURA
To The Editor:
At the Tuesday, August 25th meeting of the Town Board, the Trustees rejected the Initiated Ordinance which was presented for action. Intention of this issue was to abolish the Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority. The petition was promoted by Larry Pesses, the former president of the Park R-3 School District board and Bill VanHorn, who in 1991 introduced a movement to build an Outlet Mall on the property across the highway from the Stanley Hotel. (He was also a partner in the development of Stanley Village in the mid 80s.) His idea of the Outlets was stopped when the Town, EPURA and later the Estes Valley Land Trust came forth and we now have the open space known as The Willows and The Knoll. EPURA essentially bought the nine acres on the top, known as the Knoll. This resulted in a 20 acre permanent conservation parcel of open space in the heart of our Town. Trustees set and approved the date of Tuesday, January 12, 2010 for Estes Park residents to vote by mail ballot to decide whether EPURA will continue or be dissolved.
On Monday, August 24, the day before the Board meeting, the Senior Center sponsored a Mystery Trip and of course, the destination was unknown to the fourteen participants. I would like to tell you about this adventure.
Leaving at eight o’clock we enjoyed the early morning drive down Hwy 7 and came to Nederland which appears to be the Hippyville it was in the 70s and we wondered “Is this IT?” We all gave a sigh as the van continued on. As we drove into Blackhawk several called out, “Don’t stop here! We didn’t bring our money!”… and the van continued on. When we entered I-70 we were sure Georgetown was IT! Then quickly exiting the interstate we looked at each other with a question mark realizing we were in Idaho Springs…and sure enough the van came to a stop at their museum.
Have you ever been to Idaho Springs? I mean really been there…on the streets of Colorado Blvd. and Miner Street? Have you ever been on the six-blocks-of-history walking tour of their downtown area – both sides of the street? It holds an interesting, colorful history as one, if not the first, gold mining town in Colorado. Respectfully, I surveyed the scene – mostly empty buildings, built during the Colorado Gold Rush days of the 1860s, line the streets, standing as orphans looking out at their rough and tattered neighbors, a few dressed up and no place to go, a few with open doors to show their wares, all with their own stories to tell. Homes, most of which were built in the mid-30s or earlier, scattered about town-lonely and neglected, providing meager shelter for their inhabitants, standing as sentinels of humanity. Baskets of wilting flowers hang from occasionally dispersed light posts along the narrow sidewalks, a single park bench of advanced age relaxes outside the ice cream parlor and signals No Vacancy as the three occupants enjoy their mid-afternoon treat. Each of the few cars on the street actually stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. I would not call Idaho Springs a destination summer resort. Nor would I call it a progressive community. Yet, I am sure some of the residents love it and perhaps some are discontent-perhaps all take life in stride. One wonders if they have heard of or have had an opportunity for urban renewal.
For me, it was a flashback as to what Estes Park was before the Lawn Lake Flood in 1982 and EPURA coming to the rescue. At this 2009 moment in time, the differences far outweigh the few similarities of the two communities which are: both are on the east side of the Continental Divide with no passes to cross…both have a tourist based economy…the altitude at 7,526 compared to our 7,600 and that’s where our common factors end. Some differences – their annual income from sales tax is right at $1,000,000 and their population is 1885 – the town was incorporated in 1886 – while our population is 6,000+/- and we incorporated in 1907. They do benefit from the proximity of Black Hawk and Central City. We have an advantage of an easier commute for the Valley folks. Estes Park has been the Number One favorite as a summer resort the last three years. Breckenridge is our biggest competition; however, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and others could be a challenge for us if we are not careful.
I have mentioned before in letters that one of my favorite pastimes is talking with our visitors and asking what brings them to Estes Park and what they enjoy most. Surprisingly, this is the first time for many as well as those who have not been here for 10, 20, 30 years. Also, many do not know about the national park as they ask “Where is the Estes Park?” They love walking the streets, the cleanliness of the village, the free shuttle service, the availability of places to sit, walking/bike trails, opportunities to view wildlife, the “cultural” activities of art, music, car and craft shows, rodeo, horse shows, etc. and of course, the weather. Most of these amenities come to us through or because of EPURA.
Thoughts run through my mind. IF the locals of Estes Park think pretty flowers and attractive store fronts don’t bring tourist to town…IF you think inviting and attractive parks and walking/bike trails don’t matter…IF you think bands and activity at Performance Park do not attract visitors…IF you don’t like all of the traffic…and all the people…and a lot of other things around and about our town, perhaps you might think of moving to Idaho Springs.
Before 1982 and EPURA the main shopping area was between VirginiaDr/Riverside and Moraine/Big Horn …there were very few people shopping the west end of Elkhorn. Visit that area today and you find it vibrant, alive and well-people love watching the river and the water wheel, they love to picnic in Tregent Park, they find the stores inviting, they love the streetscapes and other amenities in that area as well as in other parts of town.
Personally, I want to see Cleave Street cleaned up…hiking/bike trails along Moraine/Hwy 36, Riverside and extended on Hwy 34 W. I can envision Moraine Avenue and Piccadilly Square improved, having an atmosphere that encourages people to walk…sit…play and enjoy.
There are many of us who love Estes Park for many reasons. It’s our home and we want to share it with pride. We all need to work together to keep it vibrant, economically workable and alive so that we, the locals, may benefit in so many ways. I see EPURA as the logical means to keep our economy stable in the future. Thus, I ask you to vote for keeping EPURA valid when January 12, 2010 comes around.