Estes Park Town Administrator Frank Lancaster is a responsible, up-front person who almost always sees the glass half-full.
His smile and likable ways make people feel comfortable and at ease
when they approach him on tough topics. He listens well and has genuine
concern for the opinions of others. Agreed! Frank is a nice guy, and everyone seems to like him.
He is as "positive" a person in a key position as this town has ever had.
That's why it was a surprise to some of us a couple weeks ago to see
Lancaster frowning a bit. He had a good reason. After nearly three years
of explaining the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant process to
the public - a program that could address many needed highway
improvements through the downtown area - Lancaster, the Transportation
Advisory Committee, the Town of Estes Park, and the Colorado Department
of Transportation were all thrown a curve.
Federal officials, despite allowing conversation to move forward on
project alternatives to be studied during an environmental assessment,
notified all the interested parties that only the one-way couplet (loop)
would be considered in the environmental assessment. Do you think they maybe possibly missed or ignored the fine print of the contract they signed? You know what they say when you assume...
In other words, move forward with the environmental assessment on the one-way couplet or do nothing.
Lancaster and others, obviously, feel betrayed. Hm, betrayed but still moving forward? What the heck?! This, Frank, is a good reason to call it off. You were betrayed! I mean, we all were. Lets regroup, make a plan and you all are off the hook. It wasn't your fault... We'll all get together and work together, then execute a beautiful plan together, businesses and town together. Ahhhh. Tragedy averted.
They have been working hard with the public and been very open and
transparent with this process. *Except that little part where public comment has been concealed in little boxes on the open house tables, then filed away, and not given to the Town Trustees until the NIGHT OF THE VOTE. Now, the federal decision makes it appear
that, somehow, the town orchestrated this decision at the eleventh
hour. Stupidity is a better defense than malicious intent, and, it appears that they are playing the card, with the help of their friends at the
Trail Gazette Town Spin Department. *Update 4/8: the TG posted a little blurb on their Facebook page on Tuesday 4/7 at 2:07pm and asked for submissions for a counterpoint to Jim Pickerings Pro-FLAP article that had run on Friday, with a deadline just 26 hours later, at 3pm. Fortunately one of our astute readers forwarded it to this site and several folks we told said they would make a submission- we hope to see it! Then, despite the TG running only PRO-FLAP articles to date on this issue, we will cross out "Town Spin Department", above.
Already, many in the community are throwing Lancaster and the town under the proverbial bus. Which 'many' are you referring to? The ones with signs that say NO ACTION and are demanding plans before irresponsible action? The ones asking why no other solutions have been tried before driving the proverbial bus down a one way street and then back around town on a street that was built over the neighbors house and world famous donut outlet? If 'many' equals a majority, it might be a good idea to reevaluate this project... but if 'many' is just a word to build sympathy for friendly Frank, it's a cheesy editorial line. But it probably worked because Frank really IS a nice guy, and no one would actually throw him under a bus.
That's so unkind and unjustified. It also may simply be a consequence of Frank and the Towns actions when they allowed former Public Works Director Zurns grant to continue forward, thriving in the 'yes men' business leaders and wanna-be trustee circles until the impact and scope of this project came to light, thanks to the 'many' that were willing to share information and weed through red tape... We're still waiting for that elusive email from a Trustee that may crack this whole thing wide open....
Consider that the town and related stakeholders held meetings on this
topic going back to March 19, 2013. Subsequent related meetings
occurred March 21, 2013; March 26, 2013; October 2013; Oct. 8, 2014;
Dec. 10-11 2014; Jan. 15, 2015; and most recently March 25, 2015. Were we at the same meeting on the 25th? Because moderator Corey Lang was pretty clear that the public was not to make comments, only ask questions! He said that 3 times, right before the citizens began speaking against the proposed project in their comments to a very frustrated moderator- who kept his cool pretty well. And that question about how much he made was a little out there, but it is public record. Yeah, you might not want to toot your horn about accepting public comment because that has been one of the biggest failures of this process- transparent public comment. We're still waiting for that information to be provided as well, and from what we hear, the trustees have not received any public comment as of March 25th.
Public comment at all those meetings helped develop the alternatives that have been considered until recently.
Since the feds have now determined "the lay of the land" for us,
residents need to be more concerned, more active, and more vocal than
ever on this topic. 'Because we just got caught not having received your comments so far and that's really really important to us- your opinion. Really, it is, we mean it.' The town has an April 16 deadline to either move
forward or do nothing. Do Nothing-No Action on the Loop-Politely say No Thanks. We vote for No Action/Do Nothing option. Their words not ours.
The Town Board has scheduled a special meeting on the topic on April
15 at 6 p.m. at the Estes Park Event Center, 1125 Rooftop Way, to gather
additional public input before making a decision. They are going to receive all of the public comment from the feds that has been received to date, probably in summary form, and hear from folks in the audience, and have time to digest this feedback to make a good decision in the course of one late night meeting on the eve of the big due date. Does this seem a LITTLE sketchy? Maybe it's already decided.
Please attend. Speak out. Let the trustees know how you stand on this issue.
The one-way couplet alternative is a huge - gigantic - opportunity
for us to address and resolve our severe traffic problems downtown. This
has been a problem discussed and kicked down the road since the 1970s. Whoa whoa whoa- do you THINK there's a reason it hasn't become reality in 40 years? Maybe it's not the best idea? That's the thing about editorials, you can write it like it's a fact- "resolve our severe traffic problems"....
It's time we stand up and do the right thing. We need to quit
bickering about who might be temporarily affected and think of the
greater good for our visitors and for us. "Bickering" describes a robust awareness campaign that is gaining in strength and threatens to force planning before action, and disrupt the government methods of spending.
We may not like having only one choice, but it's a good choice, a
smart choice. We need to support this opportunity and not be misled by
those who never want things to change. This is about our future. Ah, more editorial truth. Thanks to you wise editor! The Smart Choice. A Good Choice. Oh wait! There's a typo- "not be misled by those who never want things to change" should read "not be mislead by hard working families with their lives on the line that are demanding transparency, planning and accountability for decisions that will change Estes Park forever". At least that describes the class of trouble makers more accurately.
We encourage you to speak out in favor of it. After all, it's your town. EXCEPT if you are against rubber stamping this mess. Then, please stay home and watch Friends re-runs on April 15th.