Charlie and Ginny Crowley: Questioning Silverthorne’s priorities
The Town of Silverthorne is currently considering two projects, the Town Core Revitalization project and the Blue River Trail, which, if examined thoroughly, lead to the question “What are the town’s priorities?”
Concerning the first project, we have read with interest the information from Ryan Hyland, assistant to the town manager, about the desire of the Town of Silverthorne to revitalize the town center. According to Hyland: “It will take work to transform the area from a low-density, large parking lot area with limited sidewalks to a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly town center.” However, these plans apparently are just that – plans – due to lack of seed money for funding basic infrastructure and possible incentive programs to attract the private investment this type of development will require. Meetings are being held to gain input from citizens and businesses who will then have to wait an unspecified amount of time because “times are still tight for funding projects like these.”
The second project is the Blue River Trail Segment 5 construction currently in the planning process. This 2,100-foot span of “highway” will run between the town hall/library complex and Tammy’s Bridge. As one of 12 property owners and litigants against the TOS we have a special interest in this project. Besides the legal issues, we have serious questions about the environmental, safety and aesthetic aspects of this proposed project. The project will have a combination of boardwalks within the river – complete with metal pylons, struts and guard rails limiting access to the river itself – and berms and retaining walls built into the river bank – which will necessitate removal of the old growth trees, shrubs and foliage destroying the beauty and serenity of the area. Additionally this segment has a proposed budget of $1.5 million. We have been told by the town’s public works department that the town already has the money to complete this project.
The drawings on the TOS’s web site (http://bit.ly/hcrY0s), which were prepared by the TOS’s design team, show just how much this structure will encroach into the river and how significantly it will change the Blue River experience. The Town of Silverthorne estimates 250-500 users per day during peak periods. On this narrow strip of artificial surface, imagine walkers (with their dogs), hikers, baby strollers and tykes on bikes, both mountain and road bikes, skate boarders and roller bladers traveling in both directions on a 10-foot wide thoroughfare. The trash, pet waste and snow removal debris (yes, it will be plowed in the winter) will all find its way into the river. Now try to imagine a fisherman trying to cast in the river. It doesn’t sound like a Gold Medal fishing experience to us.
Considering these two proposed additions to the Silverthorne community, which will be the greater asset to the community? A bike trail that essentially ends at the elementary school or a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown as described in Silverthorne’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan? Where would it be most beneficial to spend the $1 million plus that the town already has in its coffers – on a bike path that destroys the natural beauty of one of the last primitive pedestrian paths along the Blue River within the Town of Silverthorne, or on a town center that could also serve as an attractive river walk for pedestrians and cyclists and would be a commercial, revenue-generating, unifying and aesthetic asset to the community?
The Town of Silverthorne will be holding community input sessions regarding the revitalization of the community on March 21-22. We encourage the Town of Silverthorne and its citizens to use these opportunities to re-examine its priorities regarding these two projects.
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