Tim Reidy: A feel-good pageant for the Lowe’s OK
September 2, 2010
I have found a way to get by without paying Comcast for TV. It’s time to attend town meetings. This was high drama last night at Silverthorne. Three differing positions, one question: How about this Lowe’s project?
The antagonists from Lowe’s had their big guns flown in, they inspected the old car dealership site, and probably schmoozed with town officials. They had fancy Power Point presentations with laser pointers. The town planning commission was there too, only two missing, so seven stalwarts of Silverthorne’s citizenry were present with a bag of drawings and a 100+ page report from Lowe’s.
Then there were the citizens, with concerns, the curious, and those who will be most affected by the decisions to be determined. There were rules to follow. First the corporate boys got to show what all their hard work would bring to the 11 acres along the highway. The council would then get to question the presentation. Then the concerned and affected get their turn, “No, you only get three minutes to tell your story, pro or con.” Not much time really to relay much substance, so you had to be verbally nimble.
The building shown was your typical big box facade, big, ugly and produced in full color. There were to be plantings of what appeared to be a new forest of trees and shrubs. There were road intersections and traffic lights, and side walks and recpaths. I especially liked the 3.21 acres roof, all tan with tan AC units, quiet ones, hardly make a sound you know, about 17 of them should not make any noise , really. I tell you it was fantastic.
There were big worries about the 50′ wall that would hold back the earth, well at least they thought it should. We were assured that even if it was not going according to plan they could be nimble too, and change the specs and make it right. I felt sooo much better now. The commission was a bit skeptical. Undaunted, the presenter was smooth and, well, he was one of only a handful experts in the world who could even take on such a fun and challenging project. And, not to worry, I think they said they will make that road up there better, and if it or the wall fails we can be assured Lowe’s would be liable for the repair.
There was a good chat about traffic. It had roundabouts, and side walks and – they settled on traffic lights. Assured us that the congestion would be much better. We will rise above the fray, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and March Madness, and every summer weekend.
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The talk got hung up on water a little bit. Mostly the water from the melting snow we pray for all winter, and then it floods that old parking lot each spring. Not to worry, there will be diversions, filters, old wetlands, new wetlands. The truth be told, all the water will end up in the Blue River. Remember now, this is about 11 acres of parking lot and roof. I’m not feeling too good about this, but hey, these are the experts.
The attending citizens then finally got their chance to be heard. There were some great ideas. How about the roof, can solar panels be installed? How about planting grass on it, follow the LEED program. How about roundabouts instead of traffic lights? So when do the trucks arrive, and how many per day? Too early and too many. We heard their numbers: about 15 per day. Divide that by operating hours, while you listen to them idling at o’dark-30, waiting for someone to open the store up. There was some exasperation to be squashed as people who are fighting for their livelihoods tried to express their positions, in three minutes. I told you it was entertaining.
All in all it was a, well, civil event. In the end, despite probing questions, answered with a lack of guarantees and a disapproving letter from the Colorado Geological Engineer, the commission, seeming sheepish, unanimously voted to approve the plan, and send it to the town council. There were a couple of demands added to make it more of a ‘WOW’ looking building.
Now this is entertainment, not as satisfying as a Bronco win, but I felt good about participating and seeing how difficult it is for the process to satisfy all the different agendas. There will be a new season for this show, next week at the town council meeting. I hope we fill the room again.