EDITOR'S DESK: Letting in some light
It could almost be called a “shadow government.”
For the past six months, without asking citizens or elected officials if they want it, a group led by state-hired consultants and city staffers - cheered on by a few citizens with pet issues such as the environment, local history or redevelopment - has been planning a massive government land takeover along the Westside's Fountain Creek.
It has the soothing title of the "greenway," but make no mistake. Its driving force is the same "humongous" Westside Highway 24 expansion (to borrow a word from County Commissioner Sallie Clark) that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has had on the table since 2005.
The way the shadow government has been functioning is through regular meetings with the project's so-called "stakeholders." CDOT defines this word differently than most of us might. CDOT seems to see a stakeholder as someone who works for local government and/or could influence its actions to promote the highway/greenway. It does not necessarily regard as a stakeholder the people who actually own the property now - certainly not those whom CDOT is ready to force out through eminent domain. And as for the greenway open houses, CDOT made the arrogant assumption that everyone supported the thing, so a yes/no option hasn't even been on the surveys people were asked to fill out.
Three years ago, the initial CDOT sales pitch was for people to "envision" a better Highway 24. This paper did that - you can still read on our website the "First Do No Harm" plan describing simple lane additions and side-street access improvements - and hundreds of other suggestions came in from citizens. But it seems clear now that CDOT had its own humongous ideas all along. The public process was just window dressing.
It's good to see City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher's call for the plan to be reviewed by council members. Maybe they'll like it; maybe they won't. But at least it will be out in the light.