EDITORíS DESK: Experts texperts
Readers will probably notice that two of our biggest (or at least longest) stories this week involve in-depth studies that could lead to major upheavals to parts of the
Westside, directly affecting those who live there and indirectly affecting those who live nearby.
The studies I'm talking about are those for Westside Highway 24 and "No Man's Land" (a
1 1/2-mile stretch of West Colorado/Manitou Avenue). In both cases, a branch of government has decided a land-use change is needed and found money to pay contractors/consultants to analyze the situation.
Now, for us everyday citizens, the awkward part about such scenarios is determining where we fit in. After all, these consultants wouldn't have been hired if they weren't experts, so how can a local yokel even begin to question their work?
One thing that helps is when your "side," if you will, has someone who is willing to dig deeply into the same information as the consultants and see what can be found. Welling Clark has stepped up in that regard on the Highway 24 issue. The points he questioned on the 2030 traffic projections were eye-opening - such as Limit Street somehow becoming five times as busy and Colorado Avenue increasing in jobs but decreasing in traffic (because the cars are all going to Highway 24, don't you know). Now, no one is saying anyone was fixing the data to achieve a desired result; but it is disconcerting that all of the seemingly skewed numbers seem to support the concept of a major highway expansion.
As for No Man's Land, there can be no doubt of a preconceived result. Findings of blight were/are necessary to move Manitou Springs toward an urban renewal authority - which may actually prove to be a good thing. The point is, the way the state statute is written, finding blight isn't hard. I'll bet almost any Westside neighborhood could qualify. You want TIF financing? Walk down your street and look for cracked sidewalks, broken gates or unscreened trash cans.
I almost forgot. There's one issue the "experts" have given us assurances on: The Cimarron bridge. Hmmm. Maybe we citizens shouldn't feel so timid after all.