community voices

We have been inundated with comments and petition support for the effort to say NO ACTION on the LOOP- here are some of those comments:

Send in your comments to be included! Remember that you must attach your name, and we'll verify any submissions before posting. Comments from here out will be used if necessary during future public hearings or legal actions on this issue.
Your primary assumption is that ALL visitor want to access the park. While we have has a summer home in Estes for over 60 years, we come to Estes for the charm of Estes Not the park. People have a choice, you are effectively removing that by forcing traffic to the park. Please Don't change the look and feel of Estes!
--MM  Colorado
 I have been visiting Estes Park annually with my family at least once a year for many years now. We come hear because we feel as if we're in the Old West. We love the sights and sound of the Big Thompson winding through the center of town along with the Stanely Hotel's history and view of Long's Peak.How could anyone even think of destroying this beauty?! It's incomprehensible that anyone would annihilate this beauty for the legal tender in the guise of reduction of traffic congestion and safety. But that's what a coproate government is about! It's always about someone's safety while plundering the public through mob rule and increased taxation! Karl Marx would be proud! Did we sign something with the bureacrats to have them control our lives?! Oh! That's right! It's probably one of those adhesion contracts where the details were never disclosed! A bureacrat's idea of making it safer is just an oxymoron as we are all human and can never be totally secure during our travels anywhere. This especially holds true with the Old West! Part of traveling in the mountains is about romantizing and taking risks to experience this beauty! I don't know about you but I try to get away from the city corporation's concrete as much as possible and will compromise my security any day for this beauty! In all the years of visiting Estes, I've never witnessed one single accident involving autmobiles! That's right! Not ONE single accident! In fact, I've never observed road rage let alone a walker being run over by an automobile! Furthermore, I don't believe I've ever heard sirens?! There's a problem?! If you want less congestion utilize the fiat currency for a place that really needs new slabs like Denver or even Omaha! Sorry but I just don't agree with some bureaucrat's vision of more concrete to make us feel safer. Rather I believe it's something more like the old adage of expansion and progress for someone to plunder those who live in this little Old West town! Minor traffic congestion is and has always been a part of visiting Estes Park and only is a minor inconvenience to see the beauty of the wonderful Rocky Mountains. The bottom line is Estes Park should not be another opportunity for bureacrats and their accomplice in crime crony capitalism to exercise legal plunder. Rather, Estes Park should be a place for opportunity to preserve rather than compromise for profit!
--KL  Hastings, NE
I think that downtown Estes is great. The loop should not be constructed. I do however believe that updated and bigger signs on where to go would help immensely on traffic issues.
--Victoria   Jeffersonville, IN
We have visited Estes Park nearly every year since 1990, we have celebrated our wedding anniversaries with our children and grandchildren. We have organized family reunions in Estes Park. No one in our family thinks that "the Loop" would be beneficial to us as visitors. The traffic has not ever been a problem compared to what we deal with on a daily basis in nearby cities where we go. PLEASE do not mess with this historic town. Thank you for allowing us to voice our opinion.
--NP, Newton, KS
 This is a ridiculous project that will hurt this beautiful town I love. STOP the Loop please, before it's too late!
 I am a full-time resident and am very much opposed to the Loop. It is a terrible idea. If enacted, the Loop will ruin the character of Estes Park, particularly its charm, which is what draws people to our town. I have traveled all over the country and revisited old favorites. Those places that have wisely kept and nurtured their charming character still draw me. Others that have "improved" their towns with cement, highways and razed neighborhoods will never see my money ever again. What drew me has been destroyed.  Riverside Dr. is an example of a wonderful, historic area that, if paved over, will leave a lasting void. I wonder, have the Loop planners visited Blackhawk and Central City, 40 years ago and recently? They are perfect examples of "progress" run amok. Furthermore, the argument about providing easier access to the national park is a bogus one. This summer is seeing a record number of visitors, people who are obviously not deterred by a five- or ten-minute traffic backup. The electronic signage that directs people to the park via Hwy 34 is easily understood, so the people driving through town on Elkhorn Ave. have chosen to go past shops and restaurants. Loop planners, it's the character of the town that draws visitors, not just access to the national park. If you think this plan is progress, you are very much mistaken. As the new mayor suggested, let's vote on it, and then you may see the outrage this plan could unleash, not only from residents but also from a decline in visitorship.

You don't eviscerate what you treasure.

--from Celeste F, Estes Park

Joseph G of Boulder has been visiting many years, here's what he has to say:

It's been about 51 years since I slid off a snowbank near Estes Park and was picked up by a local ambulance. But I survived to return today, for the first time today and notice the Loop issue in some store windows as we did the Extreme Tourist route of stopping at every knick knack shop and staring and every working taffy machine. I got some great photos of hummingbirds as we walking the main drag and stopped twice to soak my feet, one at the mini-park at the waterwheel and later at the park area behind Outdoor World. Got a good photo of me on the saddle. (It wasn't hot, but thanks for the warning.) Met the white rabbit at the collectors plates and coins store and opted for a huge single scoop of butter pecan, easily enough for two at $4.50. Really enjoyed the traffic folks shouting OK to cross diagonally - it's about time!! Hey, sure we worked our way through three parking lots looking for a space at around noon on a Saturday at end of July and were eased to find a space right past (up the hill) the wonderful 20 acres in the middle of town with the spectacular ruins and a nature instruction and more than enough hiking trails for me right now. Was it obvious that some eager beavers were going to spend and extra five or ten minutes in traffic after driving 500 or 5000 miles to get to paradise? Yes. Were any of those tired travelers going to make a note to visit tourist trap 3,947? Yes. Did the drivers and passengers appear to enjoy the show of masses of humanity eating ice cream cones and dressed for comfort? Yes. Did any driver seem overly anxious to proceed? Did see one giant SUV poised to crush an unsuspecting pedestrian, but Mom was able to save her child. And our friend with the huge diesel pick-up towing a 45' trailer did seem to overly enjoy goosing it to roar left off the main drag and up past the Park Theater. But while waiting for the signal, he and the missus had the windows open and were enjoying their chit-chat. Is there one single location on the planet where a community was sacrificed (as in "slaughtered") to shorten the trip of someone from hundreds or thousands of miles away by minutes where the local folks were pleased with the outcome? Not that I know of. Must downtown be destroyed in order to save it? Doesn't every visitor to Estes Park owe something to the locals? Why not have that something be the continued possession of a charming downtown that does not need to become a freeway, just yet. How the electeds who are promoting this monstrosity can serve even one election would be a mystery to me.

Steve T correctly observes:

Isn't it just amazing that the news about the new FLAP application and consultant comes out just at the time the election is done and the new people have not been sworn in yet . Seems like the same old stuff. Don't tell the people of Estes what we are doing until it is done. That is how these guys work. Where is the transparency they have all claimed to provide on all subjects . I have been told several times personally they have to act quickly and don't have time to let everyone know or miss the opportunity. In other words push it on the residents and hope they don't find out until it's to late. Now they have reapplied for FLAP money to include the parking structure. They just tried to amend the original and were denied three times . Now they want to spend $38,000 on consultant to do the application . These board members should be ashamed of themselves. This is another expense that is unjustified or needed. Once again they show the residents that they and their buddies are bound determined to spend money up until they are replaced.
M.S. of Kearney Nebraska writes:

For people who want to bypass town, there is already a way, turn at the main stop lights go up and around the back side of downtown and out to the park at the north entrance. For people who don't want to wait for traffic, they need to get up earlier. People who drive thru town want to see the town and want to stop there!!! For impatient people, they can use the other entrance, take the bypass behind the theater, or take the "hospital route" out by the Crags and go clear around town. As a frequent visitor, I believe a better suggestion is to create more parking, and/or better parking signs. If the people who are wanting to go downtown could find a place to park, they wouldn't congest the streets. Leave the streets alone! People come to the mountains, and to mountain towns to go back in time to a slower pace. Relax! Don't let the fast pace of the world change the value of Estes!!!
Connie S, from Nebraska commented:

People wanting to avoid downtown traffic, can take the Fall River entrance. We were there recently and noticed the signs directing visitors to use this entrance to avoid delays. But many people actually want to go downtown. Maybe just guide or redirect travelers better, with signs, upon entry to Estes Park. Downtown should remain a slower pace, that is what guests are looking for. People will still stop downtown, but this could change the "feel" of a little old mountain town. Let Estes be slow. People have to know what they are doing and where they are going. Historic means history, old-fashioned, and that is what the historic downtown route should be.
Jon Horton, EP Visitor writes:

From the perspective of a seasonal tourist, this plan seems very bad. The thing which keeps my family and me coming back to Estes Park is its small-town charm, not "convenient" access to RMNP -- moreover, not convenient access to RMNP that means inconvenient access to my favorite aspect of the area: downtown! I've been in Estes in both "on" and "off" seasons, and have never lamented the current setup, even when it's crowded and parking is hard to find. It would be an epic nightmare to have the downtown area turned into one-way streets. Please, DO NOT move forward with this project. The value gains do not seem well explained, if even present. The negative aspects are all too apparent to even myself, who has no real skin in the game. And rest assured -- if this project moves forward, both my skin and wallet will never be near Estes Park again.
Lawrence M of KS (and longtime Estes park visitor) writes:

Our parents came to Estes Park in 1948 for their honeymoon. Our grandparents came here well before 1948, but I can’t remember when. My brothers and I made our first trip with the folks in 1958 and stayed at Tiny Town Cottages. Over the years we’ve stayed at Triple R Cottages, Rams Horn, Glacier Lodge and most recently since the early 1990’s, Brynwood On The River. – My advice to opponents of the LOOP is to “follow the money.” Who benefits from this project financially? We fought a similar issue back home (OVP, KS) in the mid 1980s. You must organize and bring pressure to bear on elected officials. We had 50 to 100 people at every council meeting, because we didn’t trust the council to support our neighborhood. We removed one city councilman leading up to the street project. Ultimately, the street was constructed the way “the neighborhood” directed it be done. 28 years later it was clear the neighborhood was better off based on our input. Two other issues – is it possible the CDOT is the “big dog” pushing this issue? Another point – this nation is 18 trillion in debt. Is it really necessary to do this project? It is simply more Federal debt!!

Tracey Dehner writes:

This loop, while convenient for a few, will be destructive and frustrating for many. I have seen first hand the negative effect road changes have on a small town's business district. Less traffic on the streets directly results in less business and business closures, especially during the process of all the changes. Many visitors will stay away to avoid the hassle. One way streets are an old fashioned model and are an inconvenient method of getting to a desired destination point. It's a terrible concept and doesn't need to happen. Leave Estes Park just the way it is! It's not broken ... it's a wonderful place to visit just the way it is!

Glenn & Kyra Keim sent this in:

We have been faithful visitors and friends of Estes Park for 40 years. We like EP just the way it is now! No loop, no one- way streets, no highways! Sure, on certain dates there is lots of traffic, but that is part of being one of the most popular destinations in Colorado. To be sure, the traffic congestion mandatorily slows the traffic down and allows one to enjoy and take in what's there and what is available. I'm always seeing something "new" to do or buy because we are going slow (dragging main, if you will). Even if the one-way streets were put in place, the traffic congestion would still be there but the ambience would be gone. Don't change Estes Park into Any Other Town, USA. It is a unique place and the town leader's resistance to change has been its saving grace. Please hear the voice of outsiders who love your town so much that many miles are traveled and much hard earned money gladly spent just to enjoy it as it it has always been....and hopefully as it will remain for many years to come! Thanks for your thoughtful considerations of our input. See you next year!
Flora Teska, a faithful visitor from Iowa writes in:

My husband and I have been bringing our family to Estes Park for the last 40 years. We have rented a house for the last few years with our entire family. My children and grandchildren were outraged at the thought of a loop being made at Estes Park. We leave the big towns and freeways to come to Estes for the uniqueness of your downtown. We love looking at the stores, tourists, and cars as we drive through downtown. It is part of the charm of your town. People who have been coming for years to your town look forward to the so called "congestion". It is part of the charm. I think you are doing your town, stores, and citizens a great disservice if you put in the loop. The biggest disadvantage would be the rerouting of tourist who come for the downtown stores, restaurants, and general feeling of a resort community. I totally disagree with the loop concept - do not change a good thing that has brought 1000's of people from all over the world to your small quaint town.
Sharon Richards, Estes Park resident writes in:

We have owned our home in Estes since 1981. There have been many changes in the city and downtown since then, and most of them have been very good. The Loop plan, however, is the most puzzling and confusing proposal for "improvement" I have encountered in all these years. I am opposed to the project, and am disappointed in the way it has been presented to the public, and the lack of respect for opposing opinions.
Leslie S., Manhattan, KS  writes:

I am "half of a hundred" years old and then some. I've been coming to Estes with my family every summer since I was six years old. I've never seen downtown Estes as an impediment to my access to the National Park. On the contrary, I've always enjoyed the little town of Estes and would hate for The Loop to destroy the community that has so lovingly evolved over the years. Like Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes is an integral part of our yearly visit, not an inconvenience to it!! We do not wish to loop or bypass around it but to take in this lovely little town as we stop and enjoy businesses we have frequented many times over. Please preserve this town. Do not continue with plans for The Loop. It is not in the best interests of this sweet city.

Greg Taylor, Estes Park visitor writes:

As a long time visitor (20+ years) and 5 year summer resident I fail to see a need or benefit to this project. Actually, I can think of several negatives which have been documented so well there is no need to reiterate. Now if people like me who are here at the most congested time of year don't want or need this, just who is asking for it and/or thinks its a good thing?

Paul Leonard, Estes Park visitor writes:

My eldest son lives in Denver, so we regularly visit CO. Last year we stayed in Idaho Falls. Just recently we vacationed in Boulder and Estes Park from 5/23/15 - 5/30/15. My wife, my 2 sons, and I found the small-town feel of Estes Park very appealing, especially after visiting Boulder. Strolling along the main street, or traveling to various venues, was enjoyable and not problematic. We especially liked the shops near the river. While in Estes Park, I was alerted to some proposed road expansion plans. If these plans are enacted, your quaint & fun Rocky Mountain town would lose its small-town feel, and certainly experience significant environmental degradation, which would seem to be inconsistent with the personality and values of Estes Park. My experience in your beautiful city was all about being outdoors, about learning about and caring for the environment. My sons even began to learn these lessons. Hopefully, the citizens of Estes Park will not allow the allure of progress and federal money to obscure the treasures that make visitors smile when experiencing the natural wonders of your wonderful town. Lastly, if these changes are made, word will spread, and the benefit of increased tourism that I suspect is pushing this decision may be jeapordized.
Steve T, Estes Park resident writes:

Seems like the town board is bound determined to spend FLAP money regardless of what this town residents say.
Bruce H of Westminster and Estes Park writes:

This is classic Occam's Razor. To paraphrase, "All things equal, the simplest solution is probably correct." The town government is failing the town in a spectacular fashion and needs to be removed. A recall election needs to be held yesterday. A question I don't see being asked is, "Who stands to profit the most from The Loop being built?" Somebody local who knows these people and relatives/connections...Follow The Money!
SK Rytting writes:

I started working in Estes in the late 50's. My brother was a wrangler & I waited tables at a Lodge. It has always been fun to go into the National Park once in awhile, BUT, the Town of Estes is why so many drive up the Mountain. I can name at least 40 couples who honeymooned here, even if it was just for 1 night. They did not make the trip to drive the National Park!! My father took a picture of me at age 2 in front of Lowell Slack's Taffy Shop, yes, the ORIGINAL Taffy Shop, & my family visited every summer to ride the train w/ Casey the Engineer, shop for new moccasins, a buy a box of Taffy. We hauled our horses up to perform in the Rooftop Rodeo & we loved looking at the Continental Divide. In my life time I know we spent part of every single summer here, BUT, again, we did not come to bolt thru town to race to the National Park! Thousands of families arrive to enjoy Estes Park & love the Views, but are not hikers, and do not need to crawl up a mountainside to say they have shared wonderful family times in the mountains. Everyone with a "pea size brain" knows how simple it would be to give our visitors a choice at the intersection of 34/36. If you are fighting to get to the National Park, drive the 34 bypass to the old entrance to the National Park & yes, make them exit the Park driving down Moraine directly the The National Park Visitors Center( where they could spend their $$$'s to help support the Park. All other visitors should be "ALLOWED"" to drive thru Estes Park & turn onto any street they so desire. Allow our downtown to continue to provide memories for hundreds of thousands of families on a regular basis After all, a summer of fire almost killed Estes & another September with a 1,000 year flood event did break the backbone of so many & NOW!! Our elected few have decided to destroy our community ! It is time for change in leadership & turn this beautiful village back over to the people, not the Politicians.

Suzanne Riley, Estes Park resident writes:

As a resident of Estes Park for 45 years I consider this my heart's home. I have worked here, raised my children here and loved the simplicity, beauty and yes, even the tourist seasons (all 44 of them). This latest 'decision' by our town government, made in such a cavalier and condescending manner, is unconscionable and must be overturned. It is an affront that the voices of the people have fallen on deaf ears. There must be some way we can show our united opposition to what, in my opinion, is a misguided grab for federal dollars. How about a protest in Bond Park, or a march down Elkhorn Avenue? No doubt these would require permits from the very board we are challenging. I am frustrated and determined at the same time. Thank you for this website and your courage. I want to be on the team.

Michael McEowen, local property owner writes in:

I am against the Estes Loop project! I don't feel that it is necessary, will not help feed traffic to the Park, will actually make shopping in the Downtown area more difficult and adversely affect those that lose homes and business on Riverside Dr. More parking and ANY SIGNAGE AT ALL would help tourists get to the Park or the Downtown shops. The Town Board seems to be oblivious to the needs/wants of the majority of the public that put them in office. Not often does one see a Town Board or Council so close minded about an issue. It would seem that there is something else going on backstage that is not being revealed. That much was apparent at the April 15 meeting in which the Town Board slept thru the overwhelming opposition to this project as expressed by a myriad of local speakers. I support any constructive effort to defeat this project in favor of more signage and parking, but not a One-Way Couplet. I am a part-time resident and property owner, in the Town limits and a registered voter.
Jody Fifer, Estes Park visitor writes:

Please do not ruin another piece of historical Colorado. Thank You.
Ken Holmes, Estes Park visitor writes:

What an awful idea! We moved to Ft. Collins two years ago and have enjoyed numerous visits to Estes Park and RMNP. I cannot imagine why anyone on vacation in a beautiful spot needs to bypass a small, but thriving town. Take a chill pill and enjoy it! It would have to have a negative impact on surrounding beauty and wildlife. Please feel free to forward my comments to the sad elected officials who think this is a good thing for the town or the park. Shame on them!
Mike Richardson, longtime Estes Park resident comments:

I think we can all agree Estes Park is #1, that's why we all live here. Let's not gamble on losing our charm over a grant for a loop that we do not need. Let's put our summer officers to good use like back in the day and get traffic moving for the 2-3 hours a day during the 3 months out of twelve we really need to! This would also help any pollution concerns without displacing any of our local citizens or businesses...and get our visitors in and out of RMNP faster and more efficiently ... Now if we only had a parking structure next to the post office or library, that would be sweet !! From a 35 year resident, I Love Estes Park !!
Becky M, Estes Park visitor writes:

We went to Estes over the weekend and saw the signs about the Loop. In reading about what is proposed I am in disbelief! Estes is THE place in Colorado for everyone to go to for just a quick mountain trip which reminds us all why we live in Colorado. It is also the place we take out of state visitors to visit. It is the epitome of a great town! It would be awful to do this to the businesses and to the visitors! Please do not proceed with this awful plan!
Vicki Schroeder, Estes Park resident writes:

My objections to this project, since I am not a downtown business owner or employee, center on the disruptions to the East and West Riverside neighborhoods and its historic cabins and homes, the people who live in them, Baldwin Park, and the environmental and aesthetic impact on the stretch of the Big Thompson that runs between the Riverside Drives. Estes Park has just this one tucked away quiet riverside park within the city. It is a great place to meet neighbors and visitors, to walk small or elderly dogs away from the bustle of downtown. Its mature trees make it a more private space for contemplation. Like all of Estes, is also used by wildlife, but is a quiet haven near the busy downtown, even in the off season. It's used by bull elk to rest during the rut. In addition to the businesses that are so carelessly being displaced, the quality of this little neighborhood, with its history, and the caring folks who live there, who watch out for each other, and work to preserve the history of the cabins and homes, are part of the irreplaceable wealth of the Estes Park community. When visitors walk through this park and meet these locals, it enhances their appreciation for our community. The Baldwins were early residents who left their property to the town for the lovely park that bears their name. They embodied the spirit of giving and community that makes Estes Park a place that draws people to come it and to return to it again and again. I think that tangible spirit of nature, sharing and healing that abounds in this small neighborhood is as important and invaluable as advertising in bringing people to our town, and making them want to linger and take home tokens of the feelings of peace, healing and gratitude that arise in them. (Spend their money, is what I'm saying). In this crazy busy world we live in, such quiet places are rare. I believe that Baldwin Park is a jewel that should be cared for and preserved for residents and visitors alike. Routing all eastbound traffic through this corridor would ruin the peaceful nature of this area. Riding by, looking out the car window and seeing a green boulevard will NOT have the same impact as a quiet stroll along a peaceful river, listening to birds, watching children play, seeing sleeping infants with their mothers lying in the grass. The noise and commotion will force away the elderly couples out on an evening walk in the cool of the day, and deter the small groups of neighbors who gather along the banks of the river to enjoy each others' companionship. If this project goes through, visitors riding by will see an empty grass boulevard out their car windows, instead of the peaceful, thriving neighborhood community that exists there today.
April 16, Tom Street writes in:

Last night's vote on the loop was a travesty, to say the least. Despite efforts of the pro faction to characterize the opponents as a small but vocal minority, the real vocal majority spoke out last night against the loop. It wasn't just a majority, it was virtually a consensus as over 95% of the speakers spoke in favor of terminating the loop contract. I understand that all decisions cannot be made based upon a simple majority, but when an overwhelming number of people sign petitions and show up to testify , it is incumbent upon the elected officials to not just listen but act in support of the people. The performance of the majority of the board was shameful and a sham and they should be recalled. Thanks to those two board members who voted against proceeding with the loop contract.
Karen Chionio, EP resident writes:

I also propose building pedestrian overpass bridges (or underpasses) at East Riverside and at Moraine to take care of pedestrians following the Riverwalk. I am a shuttle bus driver and can't tell you how many times I have almost hit jaywalkers at these areas as well as watched other trucks and cars ignore pedestrians waiting at the marked crossings. One-ways will only make this problem worse. How about asking for grant money to make the Federal/State highways safer for our residents and visitors as well?!!!

Karen Monge, EP resident writes:

I have lived here for 30 years. I spend most of my time downtown and am well aware of our problems and our assets. I am in favor of parking structures, restoring our pedestrian walk lights to pre-2011 status, and I am in favor of more effective signage to keep the traffic moving. I am in favor of keeping our sublimely peaceful Riverside as it's been. Serenity is a blessing so close to downtown, and so many of us and our guests (and the elk) enjoy and treasure this area. The issue is parking and the lack thereof. The bandaid is a loop (that, incidentally, takes away parking). I am against the bandaid, I want a solution to the problem. I'm sure everyone really just wants the solution, but the process got complicated with this loop idea. It's not solving anything, it's just getting vehicles to drive in faster circles (loops:) looking for parking. Please reconsider, this is not something we'll ever be proud of or happy about. RMNP has two entrances. Traffic could be persuaded to utilize both of them equally if the signage was more effective. Diffusing the RMNP through traffic (to use the existing by-pass) would be a less invasive approach to our beautiful downtown area. We have a special, historic, and fabulous downtown. We have serene river walks. We have delightfully soft grass parks with picnic tables. Children play in the riverside parks, and are replaced in the fall by the elk grazing. We have a quiet riverside street to stroll down, with historical cabins and quaint cottages. My family and I have had businesses downtown for 30 years, and have scraped by through all the ups and downs. We do it to earn a living, enjoy our mountains and the Estes Park charm, and to offer jobs to others so that they can remain here to enjoy the beauty. We love it here, and we love the people we work with. Let's all keep working on more viable solutions than this Loop idea. Let's consider less invasive alternatives. Let's keep our charm, keep our elk in our downtown parks, and keep our Mom and Pop businesses alive. We ARE the American dream. Let's not draw double yellow lines through the heart of our dream.

Jennifer Lusch resident and business owner writes:

’m Jennifer Lusch, I have a small business in downtown, on West Elkhorn. I’ve lived around here, (just a skosh north in the mountains) for 20 years. We moved off the mountain to come down here to civilization not long after the High Park Fire. I’m one of the ones you’ll usually never hear a peep from. I’m one of those that prefers to lay low, to stay in the background, and let others do their work and I’ll do mine. But this time, I cannot remain in my comfort zone, and say nothing. There are just too many well-thought out perspectives offering alternatives, and arguing against this one-way Loop, that have gotten apparently ignored. We, the people and the government of Estes Park, all of us working together, should have looked more carefully into the LOOP proposal--before it was sent out for a FLAP grant. We should have “looked before we Looped”. We didn't, and now our homework has been given a “d”. We should have come at this from a place of informed decision, using the most up-to-date information we could get. Data about the impacts of the Barnes’ dance. Data about the impacts of a one-way road system on downtown retail. I’ve had a business on a one-way road—I can tell you it’s NOT ideal. Lots of things we should have looked at earlier. Flood mitigation is not part of FLAP. Although it might help, we really don’t know—not without a comprehensive flood mitigation plan to compare it to. The Feds sure seemed reluctant to let us change anything else about the original proposal—why would this be different? Our “situation on the ground” has changed since the FLAP grant was first applied for—we now have to consider flood mitigation much higher on our priority list. It’s not too late, we have the chance to get it right. Let’s stop action on the Loop, as it stands. No more “getting the cart before the horse”. So when I ask the board for a decision of “No action on the LOOP”, this is not a cry against change—it is a cry FOR CHANGE. A lot of this change is already in the works... • Get a town plan together, a vision for the future. • CDOT wants to test the efficacy of the Barnes Dance. So—let’s also test the efficacy of having a traffic cop at that intersection. Now, there’s a possible solution that only helps the traffic, but increases safety with small-town charm. • We have an excellent opportunity to improve signage. We’ve got good sign makers right here in town. Don’t wait for CDOT. Especially at the intersection of 34/36/Wonderview. Let folks know which turn is for “Historic Downtown Estes Park”. • We could try out portable message/construction type signs to help direct excess Park traffic to Wonderview on those “crazy-busy” free park days. • Get some real comparative traffic flow data with these changes implemented. • Get a comprehensive flood mitigation study. After this is done, then we can proceed from a perspective of knowledge. Then we can prioritize and discuss the big ideas: which bridges to fix first; where we can put parking garages and transit hubs; changing roads; pedestrian only zones; moving the Post Office; etc., etc. There are so many good ideas out there, good changes we can make. So there may be just a small group with loud voices –but there are also an awfully large number of us quiet folk—who want to stop the Loop, and get cracking on with a different sort of bridge building. A bridge to reconnect the people that live here, work here, play here, govern here. Let’s choose “No Action on the Loop”; work together to make the changes we need; and this time, let’s Look before we Loop.

Shannon McGlothlen, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

I am a third generation merchant in Estes. My grandparents, Fred and Ann Marsh had a German deli near where Ed’s Cantina is now. My husband’s ancestors, the Cleaves and the Griffiths, homesteaded here in the 1800’s. I have created, owned, operated, and usually loved five businesses in downtown Estes. In restaurant years I am probably in my nineties. My longevity in our community is very relevant because it is fundamentally my job to talk with our visitors. I ask all of them where they are from, how they ended up in Estes, and what they like about our community. This is a substantial amount of interaction and observation of our guests over decades. I am not surprised that the laid back organic nature of our town is seen to be threatened by the LOOP. Our visitors and guests tell me this daily. It is my job to ask them what they think and it is my job to listen to their answers. For all that I spend all day talking this is actually the first time I have ever been involved in politics. I have had to because I do NOT see our board of trustees or our mayor doing THEIR job.

There has been a significant betrayal of downtown merchants by the town board of trustees and our mayor. Prior to the flood they had already voted to pursue the one way couplet by bypassing the core of the town and THEN they pretended to solicit input from just a few members of the community. No transparency, no dialogue, no open communication. This elitism of process makes me think of Lord Dunraven and his cronies trying to designate the whole area for themselves.

Town Administrator Frank Lancaster has had the arrogance to remind us that this is a representative democracy. One of my degrees is actually in political science so I am very comfortable saying that there has not been ANY representation. The current dichotomy so appallingly evident is a direct result of a town board that is unsupportive of the merchants or the community’s actual needs and concerns. We need parking, we need signage directing the guests to their destinations, we need friendly, informed summer police officers. The board of trustees has not acted on any of these things. Again, they are not doing their job. I am proud to personally host the recall meeting Thursday morning because I expect representatives to represent. And for this I have been accused of being a bully.

The FLAP process in our community has been badly flawed all along. There was no transparency of government. There was no broad public input prior to the grant application that now has us stuck with the least desired option. There have been extensive scare tactics concerning the three to five year away FEMA flood plain area designation. Now individuals, their homes, and their businesses have been clearly threatened for their willingness to stand up and state that this is a really poor plan. This is an organic, family oriented community, not a created fabrication that a few elitists hope will make money for them.

Holly Moore, downtown business owner writes:

You have probably seen the signs in my shop windows or at my home. Or you may have seen me on 9News saying what Nick McGill asked me to say. So you might be surprised that I am not writing today to ask you to vote for No Action.

I'm writing to you today to dispel the many misperceptions that are held about downtown merchants and the stance we may or may not have regarding the downtown loop. I believe these myths are keeping our voices from being heard. For even when you hear us speaking, you don't truly hear what we have to say, because you may already believe things about us which are not true.

Myth #1: We are afraid of change. Or as someone at the most recent ARD meeting put it, we "want to curl into the fetal position in our basements". Nothing could be further from the truth, and I am beyond frustrated that we came to be characterized in this way. We are, in reality, big risk-takers, or we wouldn't be here doing what we are doing. Oh, you might find a few of us who would rather things stay as status quo, but in general, we are all for progress and change. Those of us who may be opposed to the Loop would just prefer to see more responsible progress and change; something that is effective; something that does not forever alter the character of our little mountain resort town.

Myth #2: We are afraid that if cars aren't stuck in traffic in front of our stores then people won't shop and we'll all go broke. When you see it in writing, you realize how silly that sounds, and can recognize that none of us would have ever said that! What we would actually like to see is a separation of the traffic coming into town. We want parking and proper signage for all routes entering town, so that the vehicles headed directly to the park can do so, and vehicles who wish to come downtown can choose to do that and have a place to park when they get there. We want an efficient transit system to move both park visitors and town visitors to wherever they would like to go. We do not want all vehicle traffic to be routed down Elkhorn just so they can pass by our shops.

The surveys that have been done by the town and Visit Estes Park, in recent years, have suggested that traffic congestion is a chief complaint among our visitors. Let me assure you that it is also a chief complaint among our residents! The front door to my shop is three doors away from the Elkhorn/Moraine intersection. I do not have any great love for the traffic revving their engines and belching exhaust right outside my door. We must remember that, as a small town, we get rather spoiled in the winter being able to get around so easily. But in the height of the tourist season, we can still get from one end of town to the other in approximately 15 minutes! How many of our guests can say that about their hometowns?

What those surveys did not mention to the visitors who took them, was what type of solutions the town might consider to help alleviate the congestion. When I started speaking with my customers a few weeks ago, it quickly became clear to me that no amount of traffic congestion was going to make one-way streets in our town appealing to them. In fact they seem more appalled by the idea than we are! "Please don't make the loop. Keep the small town character." "This will make Estes Park less appealing to visit." "It is a great town and the loop will kill the atmosphere." After listening to our visitors actual voices, when we hold up these surveys as "proof" that our visitors want one-way streets, we can see that it is possible to manipulate data to support one position or another. How can we, as a town, trust in this process?

While we are on the topic of data, let's talk about the Barnes Dance. As you know, the crosswalks were changed from the Barnes Dance to their current configuration in 2011. Although everyone who drives regularly through town became very aware that vehicle congestion increased and pedestrian safety decreased, you have to realize that CDOT, at that time, was operating under the assumption that we are using the most efficient signal configuration based on their computer modeling. Their computer modeling tells us that this traditional crosswalk is the quickest way to move vehicle traffic through our intersections. It is under that assumption that all the traffic counts, and traffic movement data were collected. And this is the data that NEPA is now using to analyze, and predict the potential outcome of the Loop.

As you may or may not know, I was the individual who shot the video last October, which offered proof to CDOT that their computer models were, in fact, wrong. CDOT has conceded that their computer modeling cannot accurately predict massive pedestrian movement and that our current crosswalks are not the most efficient for our situation, and therefore all parties have agreed to revisit the Barnes Dance this summer for new data. So we now have to consider that for all intents and purposes, the data collected under this current, inefficient configuration is not going to be at all accurate for planning, analyzing, or predicting the outcome of the loop. Frank has informed us that the Barnes Dance is now modeled in to any and all concepts being reviewed in the NEPA process. Yet, the NEPA process is operating with this non-Barnes Dance data which has been proven to be flawed. How can we trust in this process?

There are other unknowns that we need time to explore. There are no guarantees of being kept out of the flood plain by moving forward with the loop. Indeed, we have been assured that the map will change regardless of any of our mitigation efforts. We can attempt to minimize those changes, but we cannot completely eliminate them. The map will change, and some of us will suffer for it. There is no getting around that.

Only 3 of the 6 bridges which need our attention will be addressed within the scope of the loop project. Which still leaves us trying to source funding for the rest of our flood mitigation. If the loop project were halted at this point by the town, or if at the end of review process, it is halted by NEPA itself, we would have approximately $4M to turn toward mitigation efforts. The figure given for reconstruction of the three bridges covered by this project is $5M. This leaves us with only a $1M shortfall to make up through other funding sources. How do we know that there are not going to be huge cost overruns for this project? Do we know how much the right-of-way negotiations may cut into the funding? We don't, and I don't believe that we can accurately predict that.

How can we trust in this process? We don't yet know what effect the other steps that we are taking will have on our traffic congestion. Without the loop, we could well find that signage and the Barnes Dance are enough for now. In the future we could find that, with improvements to our transit system and added parking, we are able to easily accommodate a huge increase in traffic. But right now, we don't know. If we proceed with the loop, we will never have the opportunity to find out. We don't have a crystal ball. We have only a tiny fraction of the whole picture. We have only a little bit of data; data that we know is wrong. How can we, as a town, trust in this process? How can we take such a monumental step when we don't yet have this critical information?

So you see, I am not asking you to vote for No Action today. I am asking you to take action. I am asking you to pressure NEPA to press the pause button. We must all take a step back from this project until we all have the critical information that we must have to proceed.
There has been much talk of how folks in the future, both residents and visitors, will view our
decisions today. If we proceed with this project without real data, without accurate, vetted information, will they say we made responsible decisions with the town's money? Did we preserve the aspects of our town that our visitors have come to cherish? Or will they see us as foolhardy stewards who threw town money into the air just to find out where it lands?

Dolores Rose, Estes Park visitor writes:

We have visited Estes Park almost every year since 1986. If we want to avoid the traffic we use the bypass to get to the Park, or we go in on US 36. I love the downtown area of EP and love to drive down the main street if we are not in a hurry. Window shopping as we sit and wait in traffic, is fun. This loop will destroy the uniqueness of EP. I hope this will not come to pass ever.

Pete and Dana Maxwell of Estes Park write:

If supporters and enactors of the loop are willing to sign an agreement guaranteeing the replacement of lost income and decreased property value for businesses and residents impacted should the loop have a detrimental effect, I'm sure many would be assuaged. Why would anyone set on believing that this is undeniably beneficial to our community have a problem agreeing to such an agreement?

Norm M, Estes Park resident writes:

I moved back to Estes Park in 2013 to be near my children and for a down town that makes me feel like I just came home. I love to go down town. buy a DQ shake, go find a nice spot on the corner, and watch people, the old cars, classic cars, motor cycles, and such go by in all directions. An experience you can get no where else! It's COMFORTING!! NO ACTION ON THE LOOP!!!!!
Kristi Nielsen writes:

"No action on the loop", I agree. In 2006 I was invited to work at the YMCA of the Rockies. I had never been to Estes Park, (and I'm a native Coloradoan). I hemmed and hawed for quite some time. Do I really want to give up my place in Loveland and move up to Estes Park? April 2006 I hopped in my car to take a drive. I had no idea where I was headed, I was just headed. As I passed the Dam Store I felt a flutter of excitement. I had no idea why. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, the sun shining, a slight breeze whisping through the trees as I drove. When I approached Drake the excitement within me grew, again I don't know why. The sound of the river water flowing, the whisp of the wind blowing and sunbeams bouncing of the rocks and glistening in the trees. When I approached the Estes Park Sign just before rounding the bend my heart skipped a beat and then I saw it... the breathtakingly beautiful contrast of the small town of Estes Park with the snow capped majestic mountains with hints of green and a bright blue sky and just a few white cotton puff clouds dotting the sky. I fell in love with the beauty as I navigated my way down 34/Moraine to 66 to the YMCA of the Rockies where I firmly planted my feet and said, "Yes!" The drive through town, the wonderful smell of spring in the air, the people out and about window shopping along Elkhorn. Oh what a wonderful moment in time. It would be a great disservice to the people who reside in Estes Park and the thousands who pass through her quaint downtown corridor to alter her now. The loop would forever strip Estes Park of her beauty and charm and rob visitors and residents alike of that sweet daily memory of a small town nestled in the mountains with the arms of nature embracing her. I love this town and am proud to be a member of this community. "No action on the loop."

Rick Grigsby, Estes Park resident writes:

An Open Response to James Pickering, good friend of Estes Park and Appeal to our Town Trustees, individually and corporately.

I was not the first to recognize that "everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.'

After discovering Estes Park and RMNP over 32 years ago, I have been an avid fan. So much so that 17 years ago, I walked away from a lucrative law practice, uprooted my young family, and dared to live an adventure-filled faith-based life in what is now "our" high mountain "park".

We moved full-time to Estes in 1997. By 2000, I built my family a home, co-founded and led a start-up company that now benefits hospitals, care providers and patients from coast to coast, and looked for ways to build community that would be best for all concerned, now and for perpetuity. I think as an entrepreneur, though my profits are not measured in dollars.

Soon after my professional retirement, I supported my very creative wife, Cheryl, in the establishment of Rocky Mountain Memories, a downtown shop on the Fall River. In October of 2009, RMM sustained a total loss in the Park Theatre Mall fire. We rebuilt and reopened in mid 2010. Her business boosts Estes Park as a resort destination while providing all people creative opportunities to archive their best memories and to express their life's sentiments in visual arts. Last week, we vacated the Park Theatre premises due to uncertainty over deferred infrastructure issues.

In 2012, we searched for and invested in what may have been the most distressed piece of downtown real estate and long forgotten local lore. We thought we could bring it some needed renewal. And, I needed to put my untrained hands to good use. Redemption Cabin was the outcome. It became our private urban renewal project and treasured mountain get-a-away. It's on the south end of E Riverside Drive. Circa 1914, it's purpose and beginning coincided with Enos Mill's final preparations of the birth of Rocky Mountain National Park one year later. RMNP is recognizing its 100th Anniversary this year. To celebrate the park and what it still means to us, Cheryl and I have take the pledge to hike 100 miles together there this summer.

For me, the Riverside area of downtown is a crown jewell that ought to be protected. Just ask Frank our dear & feisty 94 year old neighbor. Or, Kathy who loves and shares her garden. Both Riversides, the east side and west, came out of John Cleave's portion. They are situated along the sparkling Big Thompson River just before it converges with the Fall River, the Big T's fraternal twin brother from another snow-fed high mountain valley. Their coming together explains why the downtown corridor was laid out as it is. But before it was ever platted into a downtown, early indians made their summer camps there. They understood Riverside's one-of-a-kind and valuable geography, and enjoyed the benefits of its perfect environmental conditions, abundant game and healthy rest. To this day, a portion has been set aside in 3 public treelined riverside parks. After the Arapahoes and maybe the Utes, pioneers in likes Cleave (the Park's first postmaster), Mills (the naturalist and "Father" of RMNP), F.O. Stanley (the industrialist and visionary), and Fred Payne Clatworthy (one of the most notable wilderness photographers of the era) harvested logs, hauled them to site, cut, stacked, spiked & chinked them into walls and found their dreams come true under the lumpy ridge of "Little Prospect Mountain". Despite the wear of the years and what spins all around it, Riverside is still one of the most wild, beautiful, and charming places that I have every experienced. Cheryl and all our out-of-town cabin guests feel the same way. The area is heavily treed with old Blue Spruce, Ponderosas and Balsam Poplars. In fact, Estes Park's Grand Champion Tree sits on the riverbank just out of Redemption's front door. It's a rare opportunity to experience the full essence of 'Colorful Colorado' from one simple, easy to get to, extraordinarily special place.

My wife and I support the local economy, create jobs, pay local property taxes, and collect and remit Town sales and marketing district taxes. We lead quite lives, but we work very hard to make the Town successful for everybody concerned. For the last decades, we have contributed to all the Town's budgets and building of the visitor center, senior center & rec district improvements, library & museum upgrades, the Riverwalk Connection, Estes Lake Trail, the Stanley Park grand stands, new multipurpose event center, road maintenance, new municipal building, and other Town projects I am too senile now to remember.

Like others, we are people of Estes through and through and desire to benefit the community in everything we think, say or do. Though we often contend against burdening restrictions and higher fees, we have no "history of organizing ourselves and saying no to things". We are not part of any advocacy group who "do not want change". We are independent minded folks. We do not "champion the status quo or breezily dismiss 40 years of Town paid-for traffic studies". Yet if you take a walk down E Riverside straight south from Town Hall, you will find our "stark green" signs that reads "We Support No Action on the Loop." Before a Town decision on FLAP (the Federal Land Access Program), we would like Jim and you to appreciate why.

Since investing in the downtown district, I have been actively involved in the summer traffic congestion and parking dilemma discussion trying to best understand the competing public and private interests at play. I have been a participant in all the Town large and small group meetings so far as I know.

Our friend and respected local historian James Pickering advises from his soapbox that Estes Park is at an important "crossroads" and asks us to "find the wisdom needed [to make a good decision] by viewing the FLAP project in its largest possible context."

I understand from the good book that wisdom is for doing what is right, just & fair. It teaches me and you: 1. to stand at the crossroads, to stop, look & listen, to ask for the right path, to ask where the good way is, and then to move out on the fork that can supply everything we need to well finish the race, 2. that, once we start walking, there is a proper procedure and a proper timing for everything; and, 3. our plans will fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they will succeed.

With all due respect, after examination and assessment of the record, wisdom shouts from my rooftops: "DO NOT WALK DOWN THE PATH OF OPTION 1".

So why does wisdom oppose FLAP?

Firstly, it does not meet the Town's expressed FLAP goal of "benefitting the residents and businesses of Estes Park". And so, it is clearly not in the best interests of our community as a whole, or of its' guests. The Town and its consultants have not come even close to meeting their burden of demonstrating that Option 1 is a good plan for Estes. Not one person I have found believes Option 1 will benefit local businesses. Unless we move together in one accord, going down the path of Option 1 will trip up the Town and cause it to stumble more.

Secondly, Option 1 does not respect Estes Park's long-term enduring values. People buy and build in Estes Park because it offers an authentic mountain village experience 24/7, 365 without discrimination. Option 1 will have a direct and negative impact on every residence in the Riverside area. It would unjustly move the existing "serious" problems of vehicular congestion (emissions, lights, sounds, highway speeds) and pedestrian/vehicular conflicts of the commercial district into established residential neighborhoods and public parks. Though shroud in humble streetscape, Riverside is a historic place filled with one-of-a-kind natural retreats where senses are reignited, bodies refreshed, hearts rejuvenated & lives reset everyday. FLAP can never justly compensate Estes Park for that kind of loss. If you walk down the path to save Riverside, Estes Park will be positioned to finish the race before it and become the No. 1 Colorado mountain village destination and more.

Everyone I have spoken to from the south end of E Riverside to the north opposes Option 1. It will cheapen 3 parks, the downtown stretch of the Big Thompson River, the convergence with Fall River, and all Riverside private retreats, lodging, businesses, and property values. The cliffs of Little Prospect Mountain will magnify the problems and amplify the sounds. "Serious" environmental problems will invade their yards, living and bedrooms. It would be unjust to fulfill a dubious federal purpose by sacrificing one of Estes Park's most charming features and causing unending problems on good & faithful Town citizens.

Thirdly, before it leaps into FLAP, Estes Park needs a downtown Master Plan. Proper procedure demands its. And wisdom says the the proper time is now, before surrendering over to the State 3 highly regulated one-way thoroughfares that encircle & restrict access to the downtown commercial corridor, and the very best Estes has to offer. I first asked the Town for its downtown transportation vision when CDOT and the Town proposed to close the Moraine crosswalk at Fall River back in 2011. Like the current downtown merchants threatened by FLAP, Rocky Mountain Memories had to speak up to protect customer access. Good visibility and easy access to storefronts are vital ingredients to a prosperous downtown. In order for the downtown corridor to thrive, the Master Plan must include the public policy that all downtown vehicular traffic yields to anything on bike or foot, for perpetuity, or at least until 2040. The key to becoming Colorado's Number 1 all time destination is to protect and enhance it as a top place to walk, talk, ride, or simply to escape, find a quiet place, and get still.

I respect the fact that FLAP is a windfall to the community in light of the work ahead caused by the floods. Yet that does not justify the risk of dividing the community, more business uncertainty, and more threats to our economic vitality.

From the beginning of the FLAP project, some have felt betrayed by the Town by what has been described as a bait and switch strategy. I am sure others remember the shock that reverberated through downtown when learning their most favored FLAP project option, to reduce congestion by building a downtown transit and parking facility, had been taken out of the grant application by the Town suddenly without any notice. (At a special March 19, 2013 Town meeting, downtown stakeholders voted the FLAP grant should be pursued for the purpose of "Rerouting some of the traffic on Elkhorn Avenue and Moraine Avenue to increase mobility, support the economy by providing better access to businesses, reduce traffic congestion frustrations and improve quality and the overall safety of our residents and quests" AND AND AND "a downtown parking structure to increase ease of accessibility to business and support our existing infrastructure.") That storm of mistrust was later calmed in me when the Town messages assured me and others, we would have regular opportunities to insure the final project was best for all concerned. Said the Town over and over again: "We will make sure your comments get included in the record and considered as the team looks at all the alternatives."

Many FLAP meetings were held and virtually everyone who I heard speak publicly on the topic clearly expressed their lack of support of Option 1, preferring alternatives. Yet now at the final hour, we are told no one near to the project can find or access our prior comments, and no alternative other than Option 1 is on the table. We are told we must take it or leave it and if we leave it, be burdened by a financial penalty. Once again, those keen to the details of the FLAP plan feel betrayed. Tell us one thing, and do another. It seems all our contributions and comments to date were a waste of our time and in vain. But, wisdom says if you do not listen to counsel, your plans risk failure. Proper procedure requires the Town to do what it says with full transparency, and say, without ambiguity or slight of hand, what it does. Only then will it be wise for Town government to move forward.

Option 1 will negatively impact our downtown merchants and way of life because it will restrict travelers and businesses options, visibility and physical access. Drip by drip, barricade by barricade, construction delay by construction delay, hurried car by hurried car, even the most successful businesses will start to die on a parched vine as their customers get dizzy going around and around the FLAP one way merry go round until dad says "forget it, we're losing daylight, lets go home".

There must be a better way to improve traffic to RMNP that does not tread so on the community's economic vitality, seasonal traditions, and our highly valued on-foot authentic mountain village get-a-way experiences.

Better than Option 1, Estes Park should do public education that equips travelers with the knowledge that good alternate avenues to RMNP exist, but should they enter our downtown, they must respect our charming one-of-a-kind Colorado mountain village life.

Simple as it sounds, I believe the best possible plan to move traffic through Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park is to:

1 Establish and build consensus for a Master 25 year Plan.

2 Repair and maintain our roads.

3 Mark and celebrate pedestrian crosswalks and bike lanes.

4 Design and implement a real time "Smart Park" system of signals and signs that disburses congested National-Park-destined-traffic to an optional North Smart Park By-Pass [Hwy 34] and/or to a South Smart Park By-Pass [Hwy 7/Marys Lake Road] as road condition and congestion require.

5 Construct a downtown transit and parking hub to coordinate with existing transportation capabilities, shuttles and infrastructure.

By the way, designating roadways with the express purpose of bypassing downtown Estes Park in favor of RMNP as the "Estes Loop" is a branding mistake that will tend to devalue downtown property and businesses even more. The word "Estes" should attach to positive elements that highlight our community, not a fast track through intended to bypass it. The combined words "Estes Loop" should be reserved to describe a downtown feature like a system of walking and riding loops that easily access the best venues, entertainment, shopping, lodging, and restaurants, better than any other mountain town get-away.

Finally, as a fellow citizen of our mountain village, I appeal to you. Please vote for No Action on FLAP Option 1.

Further, please consider forming a delegation to speak with our Congressmen. Tell them federal visitation has a substantial impact on the life of our roads and that Federal management of the Fern Fire likely contributed to our floods. Yet King FLAP dictates how our reparations are to be invested? Ask them to to go to bat for us. Ask them to represent us. Ask them to protect our national treasure and do what it takes to get us our money with less strings attached so that we may employ in a way that best serves everyone's interests. Surely, there is help for our community that better serves the Town's original FLAP project goal "to find creative solutions to the 'good problem' we have of accommodating the millions of visitors each summer, while benefitting the residents and businesses of Estes Park".

Indeed, Estes Park is at a crossroads. I agree with Jim, we have no choice but to move ahead. The wise move is to tell the Feds NO TO OPTION 1, build consensus around a great Master Plan that maintains our mountain village character and finally includes a good downtown transit and parking solution.

Mike Kearney, Estes Park businessman and lifetime resident writes:

This will hurt our community in the long run. You don't mess with the * Downtown area, it's our sacred cow"
*Colorful language omitted, lol
Ginny Hutchison, Estes Park resident writes:

I've been coming to Estes Park since I was 5 years old. I worked here for 2 summers and in 1994, moved to Estes Park. I also lived and owned a business in the downtown area for 5 years. Yes, the heavy traffic can be a nuisance in the summer, however if you live here, you know how to get around without having to use Elkhorn. In fact, more and more tourist also know these shortcuts. How about better signage and during high traffic times, a police officer directing traffic at the intersection of Highways 34 and 36. Please don't invest found money in a so-called solution for a 6 week problem. It's my opinion the Loop will devastate the downtown businesses and I fear this is yet another example of the "town" moving forward with little to no visibility. I'm also very concerned that the Loop is a done deal...anyone else?

Kelly G, Estes Park Visitor writes:

Am I the only one that noticed that this whole congestion problem won't be solved by the project, just moved a few blocks to the West? Bypassing downtown in small communities has proven to kill businesses over and over again, and always happens with the use of federal grant money. If you ignore the warnings you are hearing, the people will suffer and the leaders will just move on. Do some more research before you take this dangerous step. That no other solutions have been attempted PROVES that this is ALL about the money. Shame on you.

Patrick De Wolf, Estes Park visitor writes:

Estes park is one of this countries most beautiful, peaceful and friendly cities. Why change what has worked for over 100 years. Don't make revenue/funding more important than keeping the town we all know and love intact. Why change a good thing? Estes has flourished for decades and decades. Estes does not need to change. My family has traveled to Estes for generations. We have probably spent hundreds of thousands in rentals, shopping, dining, etc. We've traveled to our precious Estes several times to assist with the flooding clean up. We love the people, the locals (especially), the small towns historic atmosphere/history, the land, the animals and of course the RMNP. But, Estes is not the RMNP. The people, merchants and the guests are what make this town so special. Keep it the way it is, the way it has been for a very long time, the way it was proven to work. Every town and/or city has times of year its busy and congested. People who love the town deal with it and welcome it.

Rodger Libby, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

Does sound familiar to how the whole powerline issue was being setup to fly thru "under the radar" without the "hindrance of public opinion" I find it disgusting and insulting that the previous comments submitted are nowhere to be found... and apparently never important enough to have even been reviewed....
Tanele S commented:

I love the area as is. If you don't like the traffic then take the north entrance. It's not that big of a deal. I've always loved driving through downtown. I do believe I'm due for another visit soon!. And I signed. I was married there and my kids love it there. Please don't change its charm.

Vicki W commented:

Sure there is a lot traffic in the summer...I'm there for a month, but it never takes more than 5 minutes to get through town. One way streets are such a pain. I won't want to go all the way around the loop for a second time, if I can't find a parking place, or if I'm picking someone up after they finish shopping. This sounds so ridiculous. There are ways to avoid all the traffic if someone is in a hurry. Why are people in a hurry? Most are on vacation. I would think the locals would for sure know ways to bypass Elkhorn.

Cheryl G, Estes Park resident commented:

This is not fear of change. It's a reaction to an irreversible change meant to affect access to RMNP, not improve life for Estes Park citizens and our guests. It is only given a grade of "D" by the agency promoting it.

Jim F commented:

As visitors to Estes Park since 1982, we've decided there really wasn't much of a problem with traffic congestion at Elkhorn and Moraine--until the summer traffic police were cut. Having people crossing the street at the same time cars are moving is unsafe, and creates more congestion than it relieves. While we're in Estes Park from June through mid-September, we don't venture downtown very much since an overzealous parking officer decided our F-350 crew cab truck couldn't park in a regular spot because it was too long. We were then ticketed for using an RV spot because we aren't an RV. By the way, our town tried one way streets for awhile; the merchants hated it and demanded a return to two way traffic.

Karen K commented:

You know I lived in Estes during the 70's and the traffic in the summer was just as awful as it is today ! If you live there  you find ways to get around without having to deal with the traffic. I lived out by Marys Lake and worked at Nickys. Never had a problem skirting around town and using short cuts !! It is annoying but thats the way it is in any tourist town! We go to Estes very frequently and I find it the same, pretty much...I really think parking is more of an issue and should be done before even thinking about changing traffic patterns ie: a loop ! Dont really see a need for that...I think after it was completed town would still have the same problem over time and had spent way too much money to accomplish the loop. I am VERY against it as other solutions should be looked at and implemented first !!

Al Omland, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

For the people that want change: I agree, but this isn't the answer. I have been to the meetings and read the information. This is BAD for EP. It won't help the "bottlenecks" - it will actually make it worse. Promote the ALREADY EXISTING BYPASS - WONDERVIEW and create more parking (more cars parked = less cars on the road) - not rocket surgery here.

Thea Richard, Estes Park resident writes:

I don't think the city staff realizes the negative effect this will have on Estes. Because of the fondness I have for Estes Park, we bought a second home here. I still get the same excited feelings when we come down the hill in to Estes after all these years. Please don't take the charming quaintness and replace it with what seems like an ordinary experience of visiting a bigger city, you will be ruining Estes Park and what your visitors all know and love if you make this change. I may sell my home if these changes occur as it will not hold the special meaning so dear to my heart. The city will be biting the hand that feeds them if they do not take our concerns seriously. They are using federal money because the highway through town is a federal highway. Not all money is worth acquiring if it leads to ruin.

Diane M, Estes Park visitor writes:

please please please -- DO NOT change downtown Estes. I'd rather sit in traffic and look at the shops than have you "modernize" with loops, one way, etc etc. PLEASE DON'T RUIN what is a gorgeous place to enjoy!
Deborah W, Estes Park visitor writes:

My husband and have visited Estes Park for the last 4 years, it doesn't need changing, if you change a tourist attraction, it will lose its attraction
Clifford G, Estes Park visitor writes:

I don't understand the talk about a loop. By Pass 34 already exists to allow thru traffic to go around downtown. My family and I use it at times, other times we go through downtown. The traffic has always been there, and it always will be there....part of the "quaintness", if you well........this should not turn into another - Hi, we're from the govment, and we're here to help..........Please, just leave well enough alone.
Cynnamon K, Estes Park visitor writes:

I sincerely hope you don't agree to take this money, to go ahead with the "Loop" plan. I have visited Estes Park several times a year now for more then ten years. We were one of the few who braved the 4 hour one way trip to Estes after the flood. Estes is a small quaint town and downtown is at the heart of it. Nothing should or needs to change about the downtown traffic pattern. It is part of the charm. If it really bothers visitors then they have missed the heart of Estes Park. Being able to visit downtown from whatever area of the National Park is something we all enjoy.
Josh McGill, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

I first came to Estes Park as a Tourist from Kansas City. My parents and I stayed at the Stanley Hotel. It was a cloudy rainy typical two day spring storm going on in Estes. Could not see anything, but ground level sites. On day three of our vacation. I woke up and opened the curtains, for the first time in my life I saw the amazing Rocky Mountains. At that point in time my parents along with me realized there is a better life/living to be had. Fast forward 15 years... My parents have a home in carriage hills, my wife and I have a home on fish creek along with 3 businesses. Life is great, one would think so. It was until, we realized at a town meeting how untruthful our town was being with us. From that point on the town information has gotten worse. They say they have public input, but low and behold they have NO public input. As we dig deeper we start to see a pattern of mis-leading information. As a strong business owner against the loop project/pro Estes Park of course I hear opposition, but the problem with the opposition is they are off on facts, providing misleading information, and using a devastating flood to better their stance. I would agree the flood was devastating. My wife, 2 month old son, and 6 month old puppy were all out of our home for three months. What I will not do is use a deviating flood to better my position. This grant was applied for May 15 2013, 4 months before the flood event occurred. For the last week there have been many saying this grant will fix our flood problems. Sorry to tell you, this grant has nothing to do with flood mitigation! You cannot determine what flood plains are going to be until they are determined by the arm of FEMA, which mind you is the slowest arm of the federal government. As I have grown in this town one thing remains, the summer brings 90 days of wanted traffic, winter brings 180 days of wanting traffic, and our town is a town that everyone looks forward to getting, because it is a town most go to escape the ever changing landscape. It is why Estes Park is Estes Park.
Steve Taylor, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

Sounds Loopy to Me!

I am a downtown Estes Park business owner. I have a business partner that wants to divert potential customers and bypass our establishment for easier access to federal lands; where more visitation causes a negative environmental impact to wildlife and habitat, according to their studies.

In addition, my business partner also wants to permanently restrict my freedom of mobility and direction to resolve a 40 day problem. This could be addressed with common sense and less expensive.

In return, my business partner supposedly receives free money from a third party with strings attached.

I would dissolve this partnership immediately if I could, but I can't.

So, my recommendation to my business partner is to quit trying to chase so called 'free money' and try to earn it like the rest of us have to do.

Solution... Build a VISIBLE DOWNTOWN PARKING GARAGE that will generate revenue.

Pamela K, longtime Estes Park visitor writes:

I, like thousands of others that go to Estes Park several times a year, love the hustle and bustle of summertime tourist season in Estes Park. Please, please leaves Estes Park with the charm that I have experienced for 50 years. No loop. No loop! Part of the charm is finding a parking space and being downtown with those other thousands that LOVE Estes Park as it is.

Carmen P, Estes Park visitor writes:

I feel due diligence was not done prior to applying for the grant, and believe that the proposed loop project that was funded will be detrimental to downtown business community. LOOPS kill local this what the town representatives want? We have seen it happen in other similar situations...Lake of the Ozarks to be specific most recently. Bypass loop = closed business down town. DO NOT BORROW from the FEDS. We visit 3-4 times a year... 4-10 days at a time...Please do not destroy local businesses.

Stacia M, Estes Park visitor writes:

PLEASE do not accept this FLAP money! Constructing this proposed Downtown Loop is tantamount to destroying an historic landmark! I visit Estes Park every single summer because it is my favorite place to be, not because I am required to drive through on my way to RMNP. There is already an alternate way to access RMNP -- just improve directional signage for those who may not want to travel through downtown, which probably aren't too many! Leave downtown alone!

Penny E, longtime Estes Park visitor writes:

I have been going to Estes since the 1940's and have loved every moment I've spent in this town. Estes has shown over the years that they are a town united to make sure the small town feel is felt for everyone who visits Estes. I've seen many changes throughout the years, but mostly the loss Estes felt when the Park Mall burned. This town came together just as it did during the flood last year. I know traffic is bad in the summer months, but I think so many people are in a hurry that they forget to see the beauty of the town and the mountains surrounding it. I agree with please do not change anything about Estes...we need to find a way to keep something that was meant to be a small town as a small town. Anyone who has gone to this town throughout the years knows of any road to skirt the downtown area. As far as anything else, I have often experienced drivers who are in such a hurry that I pull off the road so they can rush by. My question to them is: Why come to visit when you don't take the time to see the beauty? There is so much to see and do in's where you can slow down and enjoy....

Amanda F, long time Estes Park visitor writes:

I have been visiting Estes Park since the 1960's and my father's family were summertime residents since the late 1800's and early 1900's. Estes has been through enough changes through the years, but has been able to hold on to some of it's original charms through the hard work and dedication of residents and business owners. It is one of the few places in the US that you can return to and show your children where you visited and re-live memories. The traffic is part of Estes and if people are in that much of a hurry then they should visit some other place or move. Please keep the charm and special feeling of Estes Park alive! I would hate to loose another beautiful and charming area to commercial and government interference.

Ann T, Estes Park resident commented:

...the Town applied for the FLAP grant in early 2013...before the flood. I feel that is is disingenuous for the Town to now say we need this grant to fix our bridges..when the purpose of the grant is Federal Lands Access.
Craig Wagner, Estes Park visitor writes:

Estes Park is one of my favorite places to visit. Not everything has to change; downtown traffic is part of the town's charm. Please don't change anything!

Patricia D, long time Estes Park visitor writes:

I've been visiting Estes Park and RMNP every summer for 43 years now. I love Estes Park just as it is, it doesn't need any improvements. I enjoy driving through the town and seeing all the shop fronts and people. I've also never had any issues finding a parking spot so that we could enjoy a day of shopping and walking. Please don't change the Estes Park I know and love!

Teddi T, Estes Park Visitor writes:

I usually stop in Estes after I have been to RMNP when I go. To no be able to do that without going around and around would be ineffective. More parking would be nice, but my visits have never been inconvenient its just Estes. Don't make it like Denver or Boulder.
Ronald L, Estes Park visitor writes:

Estes Park needs t0 spend their money on improving downtown parking. If someone is in such a big hurry to get somewhere maybe they need to just stay out on the freeway. I love "slowly" driving up Elkhorn Avenue looking at all the people.
Sherrie C, Estes Park Visitor writes:

My husband and I are from Arkansas and we have been coming there to visit for over 20 years. Why do we always come there for vacation many ask? We love where Estes is situated in the mountains, the charm of downtown with the variety of shopping and just enjoying the RMNP. We know our way around as if we live there. A loop around the town is for bigger cities not Estes. Tourists come there to see it as it is. Where we live many small towns have loops and it is killing small business. Reminds me of the first movie "Cars" where a new highway had been built around their little town and businesses were affected. Loops are great for bigger areas but not our favorite place in Estes. I know there is a lot of traffic during tourist season but if people have been coming here for years like ourselves you just adjust and enjoy your visit. Will be visiting soon and can't wait!

Beverly M, Estes Park visitor writes:

Please leave Estes as is. More parking is needed but we would like the town streets to remain. Keep it small town. We go to Estes vacationing usually twice a year and love it the way it is. Thank you.

Leslie and Steve M, Estes Park visitors and future residents write:

We have been visiting Estes Park since 1998. We love the town, its perfect just the way it is. Yes, it gets seasonally busy, that is the way it is and people that some to visit, just have to deal with it. Residents have to put up with it, or move. We want to retire here in 10 years, please don't mess the town up by rerouting traffic. Just because you are given government money, that's our federal tax dollars, and we are in horrific debt.

Anna B, Estes Park visitor writes:

The loop project/one way streets, in my opinion, would be a very wrong decision. I come and visit Estes Park and RMNP every year and I love the quaintness of the town of Estes. I personally don't mind the wait it takes or driving slowly through town to get up to RMNP. It's fun to look at the shops, the people and just enjoy the overall scenery. Putting in one way streets will definitely deflect from the true character of this beautiful town.
Diana Fiene- Davy, past resident and longtime Estes Park visitor writes:

My family owned Wild Basin Lodge in Allenspark many years ago. We have been coming to the area on a regular basis for 60 years! I, personally, love the old-time quaintness of Estes Park and hate to see it changed to a loop! Part of the towns charm is the fact that even though there have been changes ( allowing Safeway, and the fast food places in) , the "village feel" has not changed. Why mess up a wonderful thing!

Ellen S, Estes Park visitor writes:

I have been coming to Estes Park for several years now, and I love it, just the way it is. I wouldn't change a thing. Why mess up a good summer retreat? Traffic is only congested for 3-4 months. The busyness is just part of it!

Ron Harris, Estes Park Visitor writes:

When I was a 12 years old my family took a trip that took us through Estes Park. Since that day I have loved Estes more than any place I have ever been. And yes, I have been to Hawaii too. It was always my dream to make sure I came back. I did in 1981 and it was how I remembered it. And all it did was make me love this place even more than before. I swore this would be my home someday. My wife and I suggested to our family to have a family reunion there. That was ten years ago and we held it there for two consecutive years. The family reunions have moved to different spots now but I told my wife that Estes will be my home someday and we will go back every year with or without a reunion. This will mark our 10th year straight and during that time we have become vendors in the Labor Day arts and craft show, we have donated to Colorado strong after the flooding which literally brought tears down my face, we have intentionally went to Glen Haven to spend money and help the residents there out. And yes, remember we are from Nebraska. This year my family asked us if we should do the reunion there again because of the praise and excitement and love and joy I give this place. So yes, family reunion is in June. And we come again in September..My dream is still alive as ever and just need to find employment and living quarters but someday I will be a resident. With all of that said(I apologize for length), its very hard for communities to fight against big time companies, lawyers, city officials, and etc. To them it is all about money. They will act like they care about your concerns but they are going to do what is best for them and not the people. If I was there to make my comment to the board it would be as follows...Please, please, please listen to the great people of this wonderful, loving town. Please remember that this is a town loved by millions. Yes millions. Please remember the reason this town is loved by those millions. Its not because there is easy access. Its not because there are one way streets...Please do not change my dream of this place. The residents ask you not too and the non residents ask you . Keep my dream alive as I remember it See you in June AND September...

Kathleen W, Estes Park visitor writes:

Please increase budget for traffic cops. No loop and no horse drawn carriages. Leave Estes park alone. Thank you!
Sherry R, longtime Estes Park visitor writes:

I've been coming to Estes Park since I was a child. My own family has come for years and now my grand kids! We will be in Estes again in May and are beginning our search for our dream vacation property! The town of Estes Park has charm that you don't find elsewhere. If visitors don't want to drive through town there are other ways around to the national park. Perhaps better informational signage would help? More community police directing traffic in Summer, Yes, I totally believe it would hurt businesses downtown to change traffic patterns. Didn't this town fight to unbelievably quickly recover from floods? And many businesses are still hurting from that natural disaster! Don't ruin the businesses! If this loop goes through, I believe you will just be moving the congestion of the summer. That's perhaps 3-4 months only of heavier traffic congestion. When we were there last Nov., the main downtown area was empty of cars!! The town of Estes Park can solve their own issues without government money! Start now so you will be ready by summer! Please listen to the people and not the money!!

Charles S, Estes Park visitor and homeowner writes:

My wife, Coleen, and I bought a 2nd home, for now, near Estes Park. We love the small town feel. People are coming to Estes Park to get the small town feel. They don't want a SUPER HIGHWAY going by it. That's not what it's about. Please, think about why people come here and live here.

Cynthia N, Estes Park visitor writes:

When I read about the proposed loop in Estes Park I was shocked!!! I've been coming there for for 12 years now and would be devastated if it changed!!!! I can't imagine not being able to drive back and forth through the quaint downtown area as I please!!!! That is part of the appeal of RMNP...the small town as a gateway!!!! All our favorite shops and cafes would be affected...the look of the city...not too mention the damage to nature and the disturbance of the wildlife especially the elk who call Estes Park home. I hope this proposal does not happen ....please rethink this!!!!!

Ron N, Greeley, Colorado writes:

I live in Greeley and they did just this so so many years ago. Only to find out it did not work, so they closed it up then they opened part of it up. Bottom line it was a mess. Estes Park is a place I have visited for over 40 years and to change it would be like changing the Statue of Liberty, or Mount Rushmore. You do not change perfection you appreciate it. This is what gives that magnificent town one of its charms. While I have grown to realize my dream of living in Estes will never come true I visit there as much as possible. The canyon has changed and will never be the same again. I have seen two floods through the canyon and hope to NEVER see a change to beautiful downtown Estes Park.

Letter to the Editor- TG 4/3/15:

Anyone who has been in Estes Park in the summer months knows that downtown traffic congestion is a problem. The Loop Project by it's very name dictates the "solution" before the problem has been fully studied.

As far as I have been able to determine, those leading the project did not survey those who are actually stuck in our summer gridlock. We need know how many of those creeping along Elkhorn are locals, how many are going through downtown to get to the Park, and how many have been driving around in a circle for 30 minutes looking for a parking space. I am not even sure if the project managers asked the Park for data on the number of cars entering the Park via the Fall River entrance and the entrance at Beaver Meadows. They didn't present this data at the meeting on the 25th.

The proposed "Alternative 1" is too disruptive for a questionable small gain. It's a twelve-month solution to a three-month problem. The town would experience serious disruption and corresponding loss of parking during construction. Once complete, it will put heavy trucks rumbling along the river between Piccadilly Square and the Post Office. The proposed one-way streets would be problematic for emergency vehicles and for everyone during the low-traffic months.

The Loop Project focused on a micro problem between the 34/36 traffic light and the curve on Moraine. They should have considered the larger problem. We have four two-lane corridors feeding the east side of Estes Park and the west side has only two two-lane corridors headed for the Park. The proposed plan just shifts the westbound bottleneck from the 34/36 traffic light to the curve on Moraine. Furthermore, eastbound traffic on Elkhorn from Performance Park will have to turn right onto Moraine, go to the "Donut Haus" corner, and turn left to continue eastbound. This will further add to the backup. Locals know the back streets and how to avoid the jams. Visitors won't be so lucky.

Here are some simple alternatives to Alternative 1:

1. Fix the parking problem first, then analyze traffic again.

2. Add highway signs to suggest a "shortcut" to the Park via Hwy 34 and the Fall River entrance. Park Service data from 2013 and 2014 shows that 65% of the Park traffic enters through Beaver Meadows vs. 35% for Fall River.

3. Install additional cameras to monitor the parking lots and electronic signs to direct visitors to available parking or to let visitors know that downtown is full.

4. Have the Town take over the rest of Elkhorn from CDOT. The current roadway is an embarrassment because CDOT does a lousy job of maintenance. This might also give the Town access to the traffic signals so that they can be adjusted to meet changing conditions. (CDOT currently prohibits Town control of the signals even during special events like parades.)

5. During peak periods, utilize experienced traffic control officers at the three lights on Elkhorn. No traffic signal can move traffic better that a good traffic officer which is why they are still used in major urban areas. (Look at YouTube for "cop directing traffic." The officers themselves could be an attraction.)

6. Move the Post Office. The current location is at the center of congestion. It is difficult to access in summer, especially for older residents. Alternative 1 would make it worse. Truck access is a real problem now at any time of year. The current facility was built in 1961 and is probably ready for an update.

There may come a time when a bypass or a four-lane thruway is necessary, but let's try the simple stuff first.

Gordon Slack, Estes Park

Matt Garcia, owner of  The Grubsteak writes:

People enjoy Estes Park for the small mountain town feel, not for 4 lane roads and loops that shuffle you out of and around town. Instead of finding ways to let people go around EP let's find ways to better manage our roads as they are now and not destroy locals homes and businesses.

RJ Haber writes:

All of these environmental studies and alternative options that have been screened are a GREAT first step, and with this information a comprehensive visioning committee should be formed to identify the core needs of the downtown business district moving forward into the next 20-40 years. Until a committee like this or something similar is created, I believe waiting on this LOOP project is the most reasonable course of action at this time.

 Mark Igel, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

This process is becoming more concerning each day. It started for me last year when I attended an Open House at the museum to learn about the FLAP grant / LOOP project. It was providence when a fellow business owner chuckled at the format and said "Those public comments will never see the light of day!" everyone divided up into small groups and privately stuffed their thoughts into boxes on the tables. From that day, the process seems to have been engineered to push the project forward at any cost, with the Town's defensible position that public comment was considered along the way. You see, that's an important part of the process according the FLAP guidelines, and indeed, it is part of the advertised project timeline, part of the schedule, part of the conversation when you talk to project managers- everything says that public comment is part of the decision to do this. That is except until you start to look for the public comment. I was interested in seeing what other people thought, in my attempt to educate myself about whether this was right for our community. The trouble I ran into was that the 'Public Comment' on the project website was a set of FAQ's based on public comment, that were really just statements that allowed more propaganda to be shared to support the forward progress of this project. I attended meetings, and the modus operandi of the planners was to split the big group into small groups and ask questions in conversation, then submit comments on pieces of paper and stuff them in boxes. Remarkably, when a big group did speak, the sentiment was overwhelmingly unsupportive of the proposal to change downtown the was the proposal was written. So I asked our Town Clerk's office for the information- that is- I made a Colorado Open Records Request for any "public comment received through open houses or otherwise by the Town Staff or Trustees". Guess what- they said they didn't have any! They referred me to the Federal folks that were heading up this project and were the 'custodians' of the public comment. Their answer told me was that our town leaders, our representatives, who would be deciding whether or not to proceed on this project, did not have ANY public comment in their possession as of March 25th. That startled me, because this issue had been discussed in public forums and the Trustees emails surely had some letters of support, or no support or questions or something? They were to decide this community changing issue that would involve forcefully displacing- I mean, negotiating a fair price- more than a dozen property owners to build a new forced bypass road and they didn't have any public comment? Uh oh. This is where I fell off the bandwagon, and into the "No Action on the Loop" committee. The Town staff in their infinite wisdom, have created a tough situation. The 'options' they presented for months have turned out to be no option (unless we pay for them). The original big important reason that this project must go through- "congestion"- changed to "3 free bridges & an intersection", and that's now morphed into "FEMA's floodplain will get bigger". All of those may be true, but it's the shapeshiting presentation that has me thinking more strongly than ever that the LOOP project, is the wrong decision for Estes Park today. In the eloquent words of both Greg Muhonen and Frank Lancaster (during public meetings): "The cart is ahead of the horse". You're right guys, lets make a downtown plan then work on it together! You're starting to look like deer caught in the headlights of Federal Funding, and you can't step out of the way no matter what- and it's gonna hurt when that Federal Fender hits you- and the community that you're steering gets knocked down.

Philip Tulin, Estes Park Resident writes:

Here is an example of a place (link below) that I went to for 45+ years (surfing, kayaking, renting cottages during the summer, etc). There are 2 entries to Cape Cod over 2 bridges. Massachusetts
recently changed the rotary on one of the bridges to increase traffic flow (spent $60,000,000) and the outcome was that more people came during the summer months and thus increased the traffic backup problem. Cape Cod certainly has many more cars than Estes Park will
ever have, driving down a road on 6A that changes into only 1 lane many miles before my destination to outer Cape Cod. I traveled an average of 10+ weekends a year to the outer Cape Cod.

Out of 45+ years of going to Cape Cod (and recently right before the change of the rotary), I never experience this type of traffic
backup indicated in the article.…/gRG9bQkdv0h7B4E8Chs…/story.html

Quote From The Article:
"There are no other plans to improve traffic flow under consideration, Verseckes said.

Kristina Egan — who directs Transportation for Massachusetts, an advocacy group — said the Cape traffic problem requires a nonroad answer and said fast, well-marketed train service could provide a viable alternative."

In Estes Park there are 4 types of cars that come to Estes Park:
1. Local residents
2. Business employees and employers
3. Day Trippers
4. Over Night

Since the use of the Estes Park Shuttle Service increased so dramatically last year (and it impacts the convenience of getting
around Estes Park without a car), it would seem that the Shuttle has been shown to have a direct impact on the traffic situation. It is also a long term viable solution for Estes Park (and supported by the town) as eventually it will have to be expanded to keep up with all the other competitive Colorado towns. The Shuttle impacts all of the 4 above type of car categories and with the use of the CVB parking lot, the new Fairgrounds parking lot and the new proposed parking garage (with a possible expansion of 4 floors to hold approximately 300 additional cars than the number of cars in the current lot footprint), the parking for Estes Park will look at lot more promising with an expanded shuttle service. Since Estes Park does not have a long term plan (as Ted mentioned in the Wednesday meeting and Frank Lancaster agreed with Ted), why not take what is being done today and expand in that direction instead of adding an unproven element that would had never been considered. The current parking facilities are not being used properly today and what will happen to the new parking garage if it isn't used properly, too?

Contrary to what is being perceived by the town about the support of the business community for the proposed bypass, 3 weeks ago Mel & I went around and talked to 225+ businesses for the health/wellness initiative. No one other than ourselves have gone around and directly asked each business what they thought about the bypass. Everyone else has projected their support views based on limited information (and not talking to the businesses directly). The support for option #1 is not there as over 90% of the business community we talked to didn't support it.

This bypass issue has the potential to place a sharp dagger, dissecting Estes Park, that will take many years to heal and the outcome of the bypass has not been proven to be a slam dunk economic success.

I hope you take the time to digest the "Food For Thought" above.

Holly Moore, Estes Park resident and business owner writes:

The following letter was sent certified mail to the the 3 members of the Programming Decisions Committee, and to Superintendent Vaughn Baker on December 5, 2014.

Dear Sir or Madam: I am writing today to express my opposition to the Federal Lands Access Program’s proposed one-way loop project for downtown Estes Park. With my husband, I own and operate two retail businesses along Elkhorn Avenue, The Mad Moose, established in 2002, and The Shabby Moose, which had its origins in 2011. We do not feel that that this is the appropriate solution to traffic congestion problems in the downtown area. If completed, this project would increase congestion and emissions within the national park by increasing the number of vehicles entering the park as well as the speed at which they arrive there. As proposed, this project will destroy the character of our mountain resort village, and have negative economic impact for decades to come. The Town of Estes Park has repeatedly referred to community outreach that took place in March 2013, prior to applying for the FLAP grant. As the owner of two businesses in the affected area, I had no knowledge of this outreach, or indeed, any knowledge of the project at all until the spring of 2014, which was well after the application and approval of the grant. I have yet to locate or speak to any other business owner or property owner in, or adjacent to the affected area, who were present at, or aware of, this outreach taking place. That this entire process appears to have taken place outside of public knowledge is of great concern to us. The primary reason for applying to the FLAP appears to be an effort to address the increasing vehicular congestion within the downtown area of Estes Park rather than to address entrance to and egress from the national park. We feel the grant was inappropriately applied for, and shows a complete disregard for the safety of our pedestrians. Creating one-way streets in our little town is not at all the best use of those funds. We have been told that the FLAP grant monies could only be applied to roadway projects. However, as I read the program, it is clear that it can be applied to any part of a transit system that provides access to federal lands. Since we already have a qualifying transit system in place it seems to me that our town’s FLAP grant application should have been directed at increasing the shuttle use to and from the park by making much needed improvements to that transit system. Increasing shuttle use could be easily achieved by increasing the available parking at the Estes Park Visitor Center and by improvements in our methods to direct visitors to parking at the fairgrounds lot. Both of these locations provide shuttle transportation into and out of the park, thereby reducing the number of vehicles traveling through town and also into the park. This has the added benefit of reducing emissions both in town and in our pristine national park (as opposed to the current loop road project which would in fact get more vehicles into the park faster, increasing both congestion and emissions within the national park). There are other viable actions that could address pedestrian safety and the vehicular congestion that Estes Park experiences for only nine to ten weeks out of a year. 1. Signage, both on the ground and overhead, can be implemented to direct RMNP bound traffic toward the Fall River Entrance via the Wonderview Bypass. Wonderview is already a wider road in several places, with a great deal more public easement on either side if future expansion were ever to become necessary. 3. Bring back the Barnes Dance, at least through the busy season. Though I am aware of the traffic counts that suggest traffic heading toward the park has increased, I do not believe they are an accurate assessment of the current congestion problem. First, the comparisons being made are between 2008 and 2011. This is three years apart rather than directly before and after the switch to a traditional crossing. Second, there are many variables which traffic counts cannot account for, such as weather, interval length during which the data was collected, and the activity of pedestrians in the count area. The abandonment of the Barnes Dance in Estes Park coincides with the same being done in Denver and statewide. At that time, our citizens were told this decision was made by CDOT to make the entire state uniform in it’s crossings. Denver was told their change was necessary due to changes being made to the light rail. Clearly Estes Park has different needs that cannot be met by a traditional street crossing. The Barnes Dance crossing was specifically designed for areas like ours with a large number of pedestrians. The town now states on their Downtown Estes Loop website that “the signals were changed to alleviate congestion and move vehicles through downtown more efficiently.” One of their arguments in favor of the traditional crossing is “This ‘all-walk’ phase was found to contribute to congestion as pedestrians crossed at different speeds and entered the intersection at the tail end of the phase. “ I can assure you that this situation has not improved at all since abandoning the Barnes Dance. In my observation, the amount of time “saved” for vehicular movement by the change is small and seems to be negated by the other obstacles that it creates. Currently pedestrians seem to have adopted a herd mentality and pay no attention whatever to the signals. When large numbers of pedestrians are crossing, vehicles are blocked from making turns. This holds up traffic in one or more lanes for as many as 3 light cycles. I have consistently experienced this while driving since 2011, and have taken digital video recordings of this happening. The current crossing is simply the wrong fit for Estes Park, just as the proposed one-way loop is also the wrong fit. Along with this letter, I am enclosing a signature sheet with the names of individuals and business owners who feel as we do. All of the signees below are united in the belief that the Flap grant was applied for improperly, and if the project were to be completed, would cause irreparable damage to our town, it’s citizens, and economy. Thank you for your consideration in this important and urgent matter. Addendum: Since this letter was written, and after my participation in the small group meetings, our current public works director, Greg Muhonen requested to meet with me to view my crosswalk videos. After my videos demonstrated the challenges that I referred to in my letter, Greg asked for permission to forward the footage to CDOT and those persons responsible for the computer modeling of our traffic signal flow & design. These computer models have been cited as the justification for the current signal configuration, as well as figuring into the data used to calculate the rates of congestion. These rates of traffic congestion are what are being sold to you as the basis for this whole project. I recently received word that they have admitted that these computer models DO NOT take the pedestrian variables into consideration. Seriously. They literally cannot run a computer model that can accurately predict the movements of large numbers of pedestrians, such as we see here in the summer. The result of all of this is that CDOT & the town will be revisiting the Barnes Dance as a direct result of this video "proof" of the problem. Let's examine this a little further. If you are calculating traffic congestion data under the assumption that you are currently using the most effective traffic signal configuration for the optimum flow, but you suddenly discover that it is not at all the most effective configuration, then I think it is safe to say that the data you're using is not accurate. Yet, this inaccurate data is still being used to try to convince you that the loop is what will eliminate congestion. Consider this, and ask yourself if you can trust ANY of the data that has been put forth to support this project.

Letter To The Editor (Trail Gazette 3/13/15)

Everybody's talking about what's going on in Estes Park. Whether it's the Loop, the Scott (Ave) Ponds or the Downtown Core, all three are important to the community and each one affects someone. Oh, you aren't aware of each of the issues?...join the crowd.

In early or mid-January a meeting held for business owners along the route of the proposed "Loop". The Board room at Town hall was near capacity which indicated to me quite a bit of interest in this project. Frank Lancaster, Town Administrator, facilitated the meeting - the purpose so the attendees could express their concerns and be heard by those in charge.

Several attendees spoke, asking questions and talking of how the project would affect them. On the subject of property acquisition one business owner stated he had heard properties along the route of the Loop would be purchased at fair market value. He has had his business for approximately seven years; has made improvements and built up his clientele. Should his property be taken at fair market value, he would, by theory, receive that amount of money. However, he would actually be out everything he has worked for and would have no future income without starting all over. Another in the same area said if the right-of-way on his property were to be taken (for widening the street) his property, an office building, would be basically worthless. I knew two of the people on West Elkhorn who were very concerned as to what affect the Loop would have on their businesses. One said, "Remember Glenwood Springs as a fun town to walk around in with its shops and restaurants? Well, no more. A major highway is their main street with a speed limit of 35 mph. And, remember Lyons before the one-way streets went in? Most all the businesses are gone."

With the question directed to Lancaster - "who will make the final decision about the Loop?" His reply, "The Town Board." Which brings up the fact that night I saw three of the six trustees at the meeting. I will give the other three the benefit of the doubt because I don't know for sure they were not there. I understand the comments and questions were recorded so they could be listened to, but if the trustees are going to make the final decision they need to be there physically. They need to see the reaction of those present when a question is asked and answered. They need to listen and see the attitude of the speaker, pay attention as to how the audience responds. You don't get the full jest when listening to a recording.

Back to the project. As Lancaster mentioned, there are other items that need attention, among them flood mitigation, which is true. We need to get ready for that next 100 Year Flood, not knowing when it will come along. But do you have to have the Loop to do that?

When Lancaster says they are working to get better signage, more parking and try a few other things, I hope he is sincere. There are a lot of people - town residents, those in the county area and our visitors - that are very much against the Loop project. To those responsible it's time to really listen before you leap.

Pat Newsom, Estes Park

Letter to the Editor (Trail Gazette 2/23/15)

I have a couple of solutions that I would like to see the town try with regards to the traffic issues that we all face during the summer months. First and foremost, one way to alleviate some of the downtown traffic backups would be to remove the horse and carriage rides from that area. When they go down Main Street they hold up traffic terribly. If I remember correctly, they started with just one horse giving rides and this past summer it was two, and consequently, twice the hold up. I sure have noticed the delays caused by these rides, and constantly hear others complain about it. Perhaps, it would be better to move those rides to the 34 bypass where they would not hinder normal traffic movement, and frankly, enjoy a more scenic ride.

Secondly, a solution about the parking that won't cost money; the police department has 28-30 posted parking places, they do need to have some, but do they need to have that many? The Town employees also take up between 30-50 spaces in that municipal parking lot. Those two departments take up nearly 70 parking spaces. Maybe they should set an example of what they are requesting of others to do who work in the downtown area and park at the fairgrounds and be shuttled into work.

Those are my two no cost solutions. I have been living, working and navigating these roads for 43 years. Come on folks, it is not that bad. Parking and driving in Denver is bad. Let's try some no cost solutions before we change the entire navigation of our town and pour tons of tax payer money into such a major project

Monica Sigler, Estes Park Resident

Letter to the Editor (Trail Gazette 1/22/15)

As much negative feedback that the town board continually receives from the downtown business owners about re-routing traffic, the town board still took it upon themselves to go forward with borrowing from the government.

How does $13 million from (FLAP) and $4.2 million through CDOT get paid back?

Maybe I'm ill informed, but when was the borrowing put to a vote of the people?

It hasn't been that long since the town got out from under the Urban Renewal payback.

You aren't asking permission for re-routing, nor are you asking for suggestions. You are merely, as board members, making yourselves look good. To whom I have no idea.

As usual as many years that I have been a property owner and tax payer in Estes Park, the town board members have continually wanted to ruin a wonderful mountain town.

I have heard the residents that live out of town complain they can't find a place to park at the post office in order to get their mail. Three months out of the year these people can continue to complain. If it weren't for all the traffic and parked cars, Estes Park would quickly turn into a nothing town.

Don't fool yourself by your egos and believe if you re-route traffic, that it won't kill a large percentage of the businesses. Many of the tourists that drive through Estes Park are doing just that, driving through. However, once they see how quaint our downtown looks, they want to stay. This gives revenue to our motels/restaurants and all other businesses. This keeps our town going and pays taxes.

It is not the valley people that know about Estes Park that come here every year that keeps this town alive. It's the out of state and newcomers, many just passing through. This is what keeps the revenue going.

All the years we had a business downtown, more than 35 percent of our customers had no plans of staying. They were merely driving through to cross the Rockies.

We don't want to be Fort Collins, Greeley, or any other major city. This is why we are called the Town of Estes Park. We want to be, and stay, the Town of Estes Park. We want to remain our wonderful mountain town that become overcrowded and crazy with cars and people everywhere May through August. This is how and why are town truly survives.

It is shocking to see McDonalds. This has already taken away that wonderful village feel the second you come around the lake. You enter the town and you see Starbucks and Subway, another shocking sight.

At one time, the people had agreed to keep Estes a mom and pop owned town. Keep tugging away at the beauty of Estes Park, to make changes, our business owners won't have reasons to stay. Estes Park will be nothing but your by-pass to the Rockies. You'll soon decide to bring in Home Depot, Lowes, Sonic, or any other major corporation like Santa Fe, N. M. has done.They by-pass their quaint downtown so unless you're looking for Old Town, you're so far out of town you aren't interested in turning back, Unless you know the old highway, you can't find Taos.

I find that rather sad for people that are just passing through,

You don't seem to be listening to everyone that has attended your meetings who is against this project. They have even signed and sent in a petition against the re-routing. So what part of no to this project do you not understand. No is no,

You ask for feedback from the people. You continually hold meetings for opinions. Yet everything I'm reading from your letters state this project is currently underway. I would have to say the business owners and city tax payers have lost their say in this fight. What happened to democracy?

I will be more than happy to hear from anyone on the board. I will assume my first communication to the board had no impact.

Very concerned Estes Park property owner and property tax payer.

Barbara Haber, Estes Park

And then, the Trail Gazette Editor reached out to Town Administrator Frank Lancaster to solicit a response to Ms Haber:

Editor's Note: this letter from Town Administrator Frank Lancaster is in response to Barbara Haber:

Dear Ms. Haber:

Thank you for your letter expressing your concerns with the Downtown Loop Project. We do appreciate your viewpoint and your opinions and I will pass your letter on to the NEPA review team for inclusion in the official record, as well as share your letter with the Board of Trustees.

I respect your thoughts on this matter and I'd also like to clear up a couple of misconceptions about the project as well.

No money has been borrowed nor is there any plan to borrow any money for the project should it proceed. The project funding is from a Federal Lands Access Program grant of $13 million dollars. This is federal funding that is not a loan and does not have to be paid back. The remaining $4.2 million is payment from CDOT for the Town to take over West Elkhorn from Moraine to Wonderview. There is no repayment involved. It is important to understand these are not Town roads and therefore it wouldn't be appropriate to spend Town money on these highways. These roads are owned and operated by the State of Colorado and the funding for the improvements is State and Federal Funds. In fact, the State could do this without participation of the Town, however we have a great cooperative partnership with the State and the Federal Central Lands agency, and we are working together on these State highways that bisect our community.

Traffic congestion is a problem downtown and it is getting worse. Surveys by Visit Estes Park have shown that visitors to Estes Park find traffic and parking to be serious problems. Our citizen surveys show the same thing. Traffic congestion degrades the guest experience downtown, causing concerns about exhaust fumes and other health issues, safety and noise. People love coming to our mountain town for the clean air. Instead they are faced with slow-moving, idling traffic and diesel fumes. Northern Colorado, the source of many of our visitors throughout the year, has seen its population more than double in the last 30 years and is expected to grow by more than 500,000 in the next 20 year. Estes Park has fallen from the third most popular visitor destination in Colorado to the fifth most popular, and our competitor towns are working diligently to attract more of our guests to their communities. I agree with you completely that is our quaint downtown area that attracts many people to come and stay in Estes Park. That atmosphere is changing and is threatened by the traffic, noise, congestion and exhaust, and some visitors are now avoiding Estes Park for those very reasons. It would be irresponsible for us not to look toward the future needs and not to address this common visitor and resident complaint.

Most people have agreed that traffic and parking are serious issues to the future of our Town, but there are many different opinions on the right solution. The Downtown businesses are no different, and in fact many of the downtown businesses have expressed that change is necessary if we are to survive as a premier mountain destination. We are listening to all the opinions downtown, not just the most vocal.

We appreciate all the participation from all our citizens and respect all the opinions and ideas. In the end, it is up to the owner of the road (CDOT) the funders of the project (Federal Central Federal Lands) and the Town Board representing the citizens of Estes Park, to decide what option, if any, best serves the needs of the Town, the State and the National Park. This is exactly how our form of representative democracy is supposed to work.

I'm afraid I don't understand your comment that your first communication to the board had no impact. I track all my correspondence and this is the first communication I've received from you. Perhaps you wrote directly to one of the Board members? I assure you your comments and opinions are important to me and to the Town.

Sincerely, Frank Lancaster, Town Administrator

Letter to the Editor (Estes Park News 10/14/14)

Downtown Estes Park October 19th 2009 6:15 a.m., as I walked out my door to head to work that morning I could see the smoke rising against the clear blue sky. Within a few hours my life had changed forever and fear began to creep in. The question running through my mind was, now what? What am I going to do to earn a living?

Why do I bring this up now? For one, it has been 5 years since the fire, and just over one year since the flood.  Now there are some major changes on the way for downtown. Yes, I am referring to FLAP, Loop, Bypass and the economic impacts that it will have on the entire community. Over the last few weeks, I have had discussions with my former fellow business owners regarding the options and the coinciding impacts that will occur. In listening to them, I felt a lot of fear expressed. Sure, some of it is about change but most of it stems from the economic impact of each of the options. To understand why there is fear, one must first understand the economics of downtown Estes. Every year is a virtual crap shoot on what you can expect business to be like. Weather, macroeconomics, and more and more pressure from our competitors all play a role in creating this fear. Add in the uncertainty of the FLAP project and the first instinct is NO!

What are some of the uncertainties resulting from this project? From a downtown stand point, it is all about what this does to my business. What will be done to mitigate the impacts of construction and how long will this take? What will a fast-moving and efficient one-way do to my storefront? What will a one way back from RMNP that goes around downtown do to my sales? What needs more focus is parking, because that is the most often asked question. Without downtown parking, none of the options will help downtown.

We will all have our own opinions on which option we like the most but we all agree that without parking, neither of the concepts will have a positive impact on business. The parking must be strategically placed and properly signed in order to capture the traffic from all approaches to and from RMNP.

It is true that parking was never part of the funding for the bypass project.  I refer to this as a bypass because without parking that is exactly what this will become, no matter which option is decided upon. It is now up to us, (not just the downtown business owners, but the entire community) to become educated on this subject and unite on the issue of downtown parking. Lets make our unified voice heard by our elected Town Board that none of the options are ideal without a strategic parking solution for downtown. This cannot be an after thought once FLAP is completed. It needs to part of the discussion now as part of the bigger picture, vision and solution for our downtown to thrive.

Like the flood a year ago and my own experience with disaster, we will survive and prosper if we stand together. I know I could not have dealt with all of my fear with out the help and support of all of you. This project can be a good thing for Estes if we make it so.

 As FDR so wisely stated, “ There is nothing to fear but fear its self.”

Just to put things in perspective, that generation only had an economic depression and a World War to deal with.

Paul Fishman, Estes Park

More to come.