EDITOR’S DESK: ‘Public process’ – it beats the alternative
I'm sure there are few things that we Westsiders love more than a good planning process.
Am I right or am I right?
At this very moment, for example, we have studies going on for a Garden of the Gods shuttle, upgrades to 30th Street and (tangentially) a roundabout at Gateway and 30th, all of which will lead to public meetings.
Within the past five years, the public has been included in strategies for Camp Creek, No Man's Land, Chestnut Street (two places) and the Fillmore and Cimarron interchanges at I-25.
Not all studies go well. Nothing has been implemented yet for CDOT's "Envision 24 West" study, finalized six years ago. And studies to find the optimum traffic design for Old Colorado City have gone on sporadically for nearly five years, with nothing in the works now except... you guessed it, a proposal for another study.
Public process... don't you love it? The meetings tend to be cludgy, frustrating and/or boring, and it's always painfully obvious that the approved plan will wind up being about 98 percent of what the government recommended, other than perhaps some paint color or type of brick.
But you know what? I actually don't mind that much. Here's why. Anytime big changes go before the public for thoughtful review, there's at least the chance that something crucial will turn up.
What fries me are the projects where the public gets sidestepped. For example, Bancroft Park. The city claims it did a "master plan process," but I would submit that two meetings in less than a month (last April, three months after the bandshell fire) doesn't cut it. Some key people missed out, and now, when they're raising good points about a front-and-center park restroom, they're being told it's too late.
For pete's sake, for the shuttle and 30th Street, the city holds advance meetings with "stakeholder" groups. But for Bancroft, it's like it or lump it.
Another current example is the 21st Street project this year between the highway and Colorado Avenue. "Public outreach" consists of telling people when the work will start. Was the city afraid of a negative reaction if they'd asked for comment on proposing an "alternate" bicycle route but no relief for the motorized vehicle congestion?