additional reading

Read about the LIES ('misrepresentations'), MISLEADING TACTICS, DEFECTORS, COVER UPS, and other juicy truths that should put an IMMEDIATE STOP TO THE FLAP PROJECT. Or, the Trustees could cover up their eyes and ears and carry on with business as usual. (this is the EstesTruth description, not Mr Grigsby's)

"REGARDING FLAP" : A Federal Land Access Program Run Amuck in the Town of Estes Park, Colorado [Appeal]
FLHA Agreement DTFH68-14-00004

Prepared by Rick Grigsby
Longtime friend of the Estes Region and Town resident
Bombshell #1
Click and read the link above.

One Way streets kill downtowns:


A growing number of cities have converted the traffic flow of major streets to two-way or laid out plans to do so. There has been virtually no movement in the other direction (toward one-way streets). The Downtown Estes Loop project is based on one way trends from the 60's and 70's, no kidding- read it for yourself:
Read the details about this well researched trend here in Governing.com

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Dubuque Iowa changing back their one way streets to two way. "The national one-way/two-way conversation always talks about a couple things that two-way traffic helps," Business Group Executive Director LoBianco explained. "It helps with circulation, so the businesses get the drive-by both directions. In this case, both east and west. It also calms traffic down for pedestrians and for parking needs and things as this becomes much less of a warehouse district and a highway situation and much more residential, shopping opportunities."

Story here

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Muskegon MI is struggling with their one way streets and are seeing community activists rising up to revert to two way streets in order to save their community.

Read the story here

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Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, told the Advisory Board the one-way street network might be one of the reasons why the Bethesda Metro Plaza space has been a failure.
Read the story here

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Sterling, Colorado is hoping to change their one way streets back to two way streets because they recognize the detrimental effect on business and their community, and that one way streets "make getting Downtown an unnecessarily confusing and exasperating experience". They are facing huge expenses with studies, planning and implementing changes if they decide to move forward....
Read about the project here

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In the past, traffic engineers were mainly concerned with avoiding congestion (by using one way streets). Other factors such as business vitality, pedestrian safety and the historic character of commercial streets were largely overlooked... It is now time for our own city planners to take heed.
Read the article on the advantages of two way streets from Raise The Hammer here

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Here's an interesting perspective, written in 2030 by an Estes Park business owner:

As a retailer along Elkhorn Avenue who happens to sit on this one-way highway, I believe that I have great firsthand experience with the effects of one-way streets.At first glance, one would think that the traffic volume passing my door on hwy 36 and the exposure that that affords would be great, and I might agree! But the oft-mentioned truth is that the true traffic is 50 percent less than first assumed. It's only one way! I'm only receiving cars and people going westbound, what about those people going east?This point brings me to another forgotten truth about one-way streets. You only see our great town from one angle, one perspective. Think of how much our visitors miss or don't see at all...

OK, that's really from a store owner in Hamilton, ON, but it's the same situation as Estes Park, today. Read the article here

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".. an increase of property values can be associated with the conversion of traffic from one-way to two-way."  --Charleston SC revitalized a deteriorating segment of their downtown by changing from a ONE way to a TWO way street, rejuvenating the business community that suffered with one way:
Read about the project here

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The State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) reports that
TWO WAY traffic is safer, faster and better overall than ONE WAY traffic...
Read about the BENEFITS of two way traffic here

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On any day other than the busiest traffic day, the efficiency of one way streets will strike a blow to businesses downtown by this unexpected detriment: A perception that affects the success of downtown retailing is "does it feel exciting, are there lots of people?"which means a certain degree of congestion. One-way circulation is so efficient at moving traffic that the streets may feel empty! Thus a commercial district needs to have a certain level of traffic congestion so that it appears busy.
More from Preservation Nation here

So, why in Estes Park are we even considering changing TO one way streets?

The Town has 13 millions reasons.... (all federal dollars)

June 19, 2015

The Estes Park Board of Realtors has come out publicly with their stance against the loop. Here's the actual letter:

4/11: No more public conversations about upcoming issues, unless the whole board gives permission to talk about it???

Right. Thanks to a new policy (ironically dated March 25th) the Town's official policy about discussing upcoming public issues is that the idea must be brought before the Town Administrator, who then polls the Trustees or brings it up at a board meeting to discuss if they should discuss it, then they can discuss the issue if everyone says its OK to discuss. But until all of that discussion happens, no discussion about the upcoming issues may take place, which "may result in minor delays to gather public information on an issue" (their words), and they think the public interest in this issue is "low".

If the FLAP project is any indication, gathering public comments is NOT a strong point of this organization, it's interesting it's now even more restrictive.

Read it for yourself- we don't make this stuff up! (it's in the middle of the 184 page packet)

Colorado Open Records Request:

Memorandum of Agreement describing details of how the FLAP project will be completed.

Interesting highlights:
Cover and 11: The Park service declines to accept 7 out of 9 responsibilities in a memo attached to the front of the document. Remember this is a Federal land access grant, and the Park politely says NO to their list of jobs, including insuring that the process meets the goals of the funding. This is about Federal land access, and they are keeping the project at arms length. Hm.

Page 1: This document does not commit the agencies to proceed with the project.
Page 2: (A) The final decision to proceed will be made after the NEPA process is complete.... And after we spend more time on planning a project that will strip the character right out of our town center, and force one way roads onto the community for the entire year.... (Cut bait and save further loss, please!)
Page 2: (E) The new Riverside one way couplet would become a state highway, subject to restrictions on access and parking, hinted to later in the document. Beware planners! This could be another ugly 'surprise'. Both roadways will be called US Hwy 36. This is part of the trade for that section of highway (West Elkhorn from Moraine/Elkhorn to 34 bypass) that the Town took over in exchange for 4 million dollars from the State. Was that really such a good deal? Hm.
Page 4: Traffic estimates are based on what model? Or time frame? Sounds serious, but not supported.
Page 6: Ivy bridge is included. This memo states that there is "uncertainty in the application if any improvements are needed" on other bridges. (The application calls for 2 bridge replacements. Guess there was a misunderstanding.)
Page 8: $2.4 million is budgeted for private property acquisition. Another potential 'surprise' if it goes over budget.

 

THIS ARTICLE IS COPIED VERBATIM, THERE ARE DISCREPANCIES FROM THE FACTS:

From EfficientGov.com, 'For Forward Thinking Municipal Leaders': (we added the highlights)

What Happened?
Estes Park, Colorado, received a $14 million grant from the federal government for transit and highway improvements that must be matched with a $5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation. (Actual amounts are $13m grant and $4.1m payment to Town by CDOT for assuming ownership of West Elkhorn)

The Goal
Estes Park has been unable to upgrade and revamp the major transit sections and highways in the city due to budgetary restraints. The FLAP grant, however, will provide the necessary capital to support local initiatives through a 17.2 percent state matching requirement.

Once the grants have been guaranteed at both the federal and state levels, the local government, state department of transportation and Federal Highway Commission can start planning the transit improvement projects and inform residents of the upcoming construction. The federal government assists local agencies with conducting an environmental impact study prior to implementing permanent changes, as well as collect public feedback to ensure there is support.

The transit improvements include changing the routes of many main streets in the downtown area of Estes Park, helping to reduce traffic congestion and making it easier to navigate throughout the community. These changes aim to boost the quality of life for residents as well as support a growing tourism industry.

FLAP Program
The Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) is designed to be a supplementary financing program for state and local governments looking to improve or construct transit infrastructure and resources. Because funding is provided by federal and local authorities, the program is flexible and can accommodate a wide variety of projects. While the federal government offers sources of capital, local and state governments maintain responsibility over the construction and maintenance of all transit infrastructures.

You know we couldn't pass this opportunity up! The TG prints an editorial that creates an opportunity for us to interpret their words. Our comments are in red. Their piece appeared online and in their print edition on 4/3/15:

Feds' move throws town a curve Oh, Poor Town!

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.

The FLAP grant isn't the only flood mitigation project in town.... Our Town Staff are deciding where to spend Flood Mitigation Grant Money already awarded -
From the minutes of the Town Board meeting on Feb 24, 2015:
CDBG-DR ROUND 1 & 2 INFRASTRUCTURE AND FEMA HMGP APPLICATIONS:
Director Chilcott provided an update on the status of the three grant applications for downtown flood mitigation. Staff continues to operate with the post-2013 flood objectives of reducing the number of properties in revised special flood hazard areas and increasing the Town’s resiliency to future flood events. The Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Round 2 Infrastructure Grant application for the Moraine Avenue bridge replacement was submitted February 13, 2015. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) revised  application is due March 17, 2015 for channel widening and retaining wall work on the Big Thompson River near Picadilly Square. The CDBG-DR Round 1 Infrastructure Grant awarded $1.25 million as a match for the HMGP application. The Town did not receive funding for the HMGP applic ation, therefore, staff has identified four projects for the funds which may be used by March 2016. These projects include the Fish Hatchery area above the Hydroplant, the Fish Hatchery property below the Hydroplant which includes Town housing`, the Scott Ponds area, and minor localized culvert improvements downtown. Staff is examining which department has the capacity to complete these projects within a year and would keep the Board informed of all flood mitigation efforts.

--This FLAP grant was about congestion, right? Seems to us that the Town and their spokespeople have shifted to a tactic with a better chance of convincing us common folk that it's important by making it about FLOOD PREPARATION. If you look, you won't find the word 'flood' mentioned anywhere in the grant application. Read it below.

The original FLAP funding proposal that includes things like "1-5 Right of Way acquisitions", and other hidden gems. Take a few minutes to see what the approved plan includes. Thank you Colorado Open Records Act.

CAPPA Estes Park Grant Application w map.pdf CAPPA Estes Park Grant Application w map.pdf
Size : 3984.241 Kb
Type : pdf

Letter to Town Administrator Frank Lancaster from Central Federal Highway Division regarding deadline to provide a written response of the Towns intent regarding the FLAP funding by April 16th, and statement that funding in the project is only for the original proposal, and any other options would result in the project "being removed from the program".

TOWN TO APPLY FOR FLAP GRANT
John Cordsen Trail Gazette March 29, 2013

It may be years before the first shovel of dirt is turned in any construction project to ease traffic congestion in downtown Estes Park, but a step has been taken in that direction.

In a 4-2 vote, the Estes Park board of trustees Tuesday night (March 26) voted to move forward in securing federal funding for highway improvements through Estes Park. The 4-2 vote gave town staff approval to proceed with applying for a Federal Land Access Program (FLAP) grant. Voting for the measure were trustees Ron Norris, Mark Elrod, John Ericson and Wendy Koenig. Voting against the proposal was mayor pro-tem Eric Blackhurst and trustee John Phipps.

"We are looking for the authority to move forward, or not move forward on this," said Estes Park director of public works Scott Zurn when he presented the proposal to the board for approval Tuesday night.

The grant application is just the first step in what could be a long process in securing federal funding that would remake and redirect traffic flow through downtown Estes Park. Community involvement, and input, plays a major role in the overall process. In just getting to the point of applying for the grant, the town had held two public meetings in the week prior to the Tuesday presentation before the town trustees. The meetings described the potential projects that would fit the criteria for the federal grants. According to officials, public input on the project could take up to two years, and that is after the grant has been awarded.

"During both of these meetings, the public was shown four projects and asked to prioritize each of the projects in order of importance, including an option to do nothing," said Zurn. The options included a transportation facility at located on the post office parking area (a parking structure), converting Moraine and Riverside into one-way roads, leaving Moraine as a two-way road and expanding Riverside to accommodate more traffic and expanding the Big Thompson Trail system. the transportation facility was the public's top choice with the one-way couplet the public's second choice.

With Tuesday's vote, town staff was directed to write the grant application to fund a project that would create a pair of one-way roads to ease traffic through the heart of Estes Park. In this proposal, the one-way couplet project, Moraine Avenue from Elkhorn to the intersection of Crags Drive would be one-way for westbound traffic and Riverside Drive would be refitted, from the Crags intersection, to accommodate east bound one-way traffic to where it joins with Elkhorn. This option would require a segment of new roadway from the Crags intersection, across the Big Thompson River.

The grant application would also include information on a hoped-for future phase in an overall project to improve traffic flow in downtown Estes Park that involves a transit parking structure located approximately where the current post office and post office park lot sit.

According to Zurn, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates that both the one and two-way couplets would increase downtown peak traffic capacity by up to 40 percent. Zurn said CDOT's preference was the two-way couplet.

Cost estimates for the one-way couplet phase are between $11.75 million and $13.1 million. Grant funds would not cover the entire cost of the project. A local match of approximately 20 percent would be needed. The matching funds funds required for the FLAP grant would be met by CDOT for the one-way couplet, with the town picking up the matching portion for a transit facility a priority.