Email letters, June 12, 2013
Hiker urges BLM to preserve wild beauty of King’s Canyon
I moved back to the Grand Valley last year, partially due to the accessibility of nearby public lands. I recently joined a small group for a hike on BLM land along the rim of King’s Canyon in Glade Park. I had never visited this area before and was blown away by all that we encountered.
Hiking along the canyon rim, we enjoyed endless vistas stretching as far as the eye could see into Utah. We viewed a few arches and some truly beautiful sandstone rock formations. There was a gentle stillness and a feeling of solitude that surrounded me as the shadows of passing clouds moved over the valley and rocks below.
While some remnants of grazing were evident (a few cow pies, for example), I was impressed with the overall density of native grasses and the healthy sagebrush cover. There were yucca, cacti, serviceberry, cliffrose and many varieties of wildflowers all in bloom. In many places I noticed a healthy, thick layer of cryptobiotic soils steadfastly holding the landscape in place.
It was a restorative day in a truly remarkable place, and I strongly urge the BLM to preserve this wild landscape in its Resource Management Plan.
California’s fiscal mistakes worth noting in relation to Avalon’s fate
The fundamental issue with the Avalon is not its value as a performing arts center but its financial viability and thus who should pay for it.
Government at its core should focus on building an infrastructure that benefits everyone. Private businesses can then come forward and use that infrastructure to serve the community by creating businesses, employing people and seeking a profit from the goods and services they provide. Government infrastructure certainly includes streets, sidewalks, sewers, zoning, laws, law enforcement, air traffic control, national defense and the like, but not grocery stores, lube-and-oil-change facilities, clothing manufacturers, restaurants, newspapers or even theaters.
All of those things and literally millions more are provided daily by private business, not government. Why? It is because they are not infrastructure and hence not within the purview of government’s proper taxing and spending power.
Why can’t a theater or performing arts center be built privately and used for movies, live plays, symphonies, talent shows, conferences, recitals, bands and orchestras, comedians, aging rockers and anyone else needing a venue? Why can’t its owners make money doing so, as have many others in the private sector by providing something of value? Why do taxpayers get the call to fund this instead?
Full disclosure here: We moved to Grand Junction in 2006 after living in southern California for 37 years. We did not know a soul in Grand Junction at the time but were well aware of the direction California was moving both politically and economically.
California has long been effectively bankrupt, in large part because government grew well beyond the bounds of building infrastructure and now cannot afford to operate what it built or pay the gold-plated retirement of all the people it “employed” in the process. In short, it simply forgot that the taxpayers of the state could not afford the tax receivers but continued anyway. California is a clear lesson on how Grand Junction should not operate — beyond its means.
As to the financial status of the project, my observation is citizens are not making significant voluntary contributions, which means they will have to contribute coercively, if at all. If taxpayers can be forced to build a theater, why can’t they be forced to build a hardware store?
Investing in arts, culture enhances city’s livability, economy
As a town resident whose family has lived in the Grand Valley for well over 100 years, I was greatly disturbed to see three city councilors vote to renege on the city’s commitment to restore the Avalon Theatre.
It is a beautiful cornerstone of the downtown area that offers residents and visitors a sense of community, history and culture. As with any property investment, it requires upkeep and remodeling to contend with environmental and cultural changes; not doing any remodeling is simply shortsighted and bad for business.
Entertainment promoters are always on the hunt for a good venue that can provide enough seats to make the risk worth it to them. The Avalon is just shy of enough seats to bring in high quality entertainment that will attract regional interest and bring people to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our locally owned businesses. This, of course, creates more jobs and increases our tax base without burden to our citizens.
The Grand Junction City Council has a goal of creating the most livable city west of the Rockies by 2025, which is worthy of our attention. By what criteria are councilors measuring this goal?
When magazines such as Forbes and The Economist rank the most livable cities, they measure them in terms of safety, education, hygiene, health care, environment, recreation, political-economic stability, public transportation and arts and culture. In the best cities, it is easy to see that these are all interrelated.
We can attract better health care providers with arts and culture, entertainment and safety. Businesses are more likely to relocate in an area where there is good health care, educational opportunities, political-economic stability, entertainment and arts and culture. Safety increases with more economic opportunity, pride in our city and education. Clearly, we need city leaders who are able to move us toward 2025 with a sense of history, an eye toward the future and a broader vision of livability.
The funding for the Avalon already exists and has been allocated. The very successful fundraising for the Avalon has been mostly private, made up of many donations by physicians and business owners who hope to see a more livable city. It is now going public, which will give all our citizens an opportunity to move forward with civic pride.
I urge some of our city councilors to stop trying to renege on our city’s commitment toward this project and instead follow the will of the citizens to create a more beautiful and livable city.