Hwy 24 survey planned for next OWN newsletter

       Backing off from starting a petition drive for now, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) focused on gathering questions and comments from citizens regarding Westside Highway 24 expansion plans at a meeting Sept. 14.
       The group is also planning to include a Highway 24 survey in the upcoming edition of its quarterly newsletter, the Westside Story, a direct-mail publication that goes out to more than 8,000 older-Westside businesses and residences. The survey will attempt to get an idea from people what improvements they think are necessary and what values should be preserved in any work that's done. The latter question is based on a suggestion by City Council member Randy Purvis, a Westside resident, who attended the meeting.
       OWN board member Amy Filipiak had said before the meeting that the group was considering a petition drive to show the extent of citizen opposition to the major expansion plans by the Department of Transportation (CDOT). However, Filipiak and OWN President Welling Clark explained afterward that they felt a petition drive was premature and that the important thing now is to gather people's ideas.
       “Every single point brought up needs to be addressed,” Clark told the group of about 40 people near the end of the two-hour gathering.
       OWN also did not push for extensive action on another pre-stated meeting goal - to fine-tune an existing, smaller-scale, locally generated alternative plan. Clark did gain a consensus from attendees that the main highway expansion concerns pertain to the segment between 8th and 21st streets.
       The biggest applause came when Dave Hughes, also an OWN board member, said of the project, “I'm not sure they need to do a d-- thing.”
       The project study area is the highway corridor between I-25 and Manitou Springs.
       The most frequently raised issue by citizens at the meeting concerned impacts to the Midland area if the state opts for an interchange option it has presented that would create a highway interchange at 21st Street south of Van Briggle Pottery. (CDOT project leader Dave Watt said after the meeting he doubted the south option at 21st Street would be part of the preferred alternative the state hopes to have ready by early 2007.)
       The meeting also featured separate appearances by District 18 Statehouse candidates Michael Merrifield (Democrat incumbent) and Kyle Fisk (Republican challenger). Both said they strongly oppose the state's plans.
       The next OWN meeting with time set aside for citizen input on Highway 24 will be in November, according to Clark.

Westside Pioneer article