Practical isn’t always boring

PHOTO BY CT-Sent as WAGNER MUG 11-27.



We’re almost three weeks past the most recent plebiscite on raising taxes, deferring repayment of debt to repurpose dollars toward something that should’ve been done already and dealt with the latest slot on the roulette wheel of grandiose projects to catapult the local economy into the ionosphere. Now, perhaps, we could tether ourselves to the Earth and speak of things more practical.

I know, practical is seldom fun even if it’s necessary — like getting new underwear for your birthday. However, it can sometimes be very helpful — like the way that new underwear makes it possible to be seriously injured and not shamed by the ambulance crew over outdated SpongeBob SquarePants boxers.

First I’d like to lay out what is apparently a little-known fact — the success or failure of Grand Junction’s commerce is not particularly dependent upon four blocks of Main Street. The repetitive nature of these requests would make an outside observer think there was no other area of the town that generated any revenue.

The fact that other business areas in the community haven’t created more of a fuss about the exceedingly narrow focus of development planning is a little surprising. For example, the Horizon Drive Association generates a tremendous amount of business but doesn’t get nearly the amount of support. I might point out the airport possesses a sizable amount of vacant land that could be used for an event/convention center which would be spectacularly convenient for travelers and near lodging and dining, which might actually be augmented with such a project.

If planners really wanted to help downtown merchants, they might consider ways to eliminate things that keep people from going there, like finding a place to park that’s reasonably convenient. And I don’t mean in a parking garage three blocks away in a city that has a downtown that is one block wide.

What I might more directly mean to say is, stop surrounding the shopping area with short-term metered parking, buttressed by obsessive-compulsive enforcement that nails shoppers who are short on nickels with a $10 ticket that seems to rapidly escalate into a Wanted: Dead or Alive situation if not paid immediately. 

Few things hammer back the enjoyment of a great slice of pizza at Pablo’s like returning to your vehicle to find out you have a slip of paper on the windshield that costs more than your lunch.

The mere fact the Downtown Development Authority, which has its own taxing ability, thinks it has to purchase billboard space to remind people that there is a downtown that includes shopping and eating as part of its repertoire is itself a troubling sign.

If the DDA is going to put up billboards, perhaps cycling through some of the specific businesses that are downtown might be helpful to merchants and the consumer. Folks who need to be alerted that a downtown exists are most likely not allowed to spend money without court approval anyway.

Additionally, eliminate the bizarre fixation with building large structures in the hopes of attracting throngs of people to an area with ridiculous parking availability. For example, the latest plan for an event center would’ve eliminated some of the very parking needed to accommodate even a fraction of the number of visitors hoped to for the facility.

Returning to an old friend of a suggestion — try and do something about the escalating drifter problem because the doing nothing thing isn’t working.

Things on that front seem to be getting worse, not better. For instance, from The Daily Sentinel, April 14: “A warrant was issued April 5 for Salmenio Bustos, 43, for allegedly beating a victim and putting the man in a chokehold during an altercation in Whitman Park the morning of March 21. A witness that day told police he saw Bustos riding in the park and loudly shouting, ‘Who else wants their head busted? I just finished one.’ ”

This allegedly happened during the day, a little more than 100 yards from the new public safety facility — the long arm of the law has become a lot shorter than I remember it.

Many street-level officers I speak with have loads of good, constitutional ideas about dealing with the problem but don’t seem to be getting a lot of high-level encouragement.

We have a tremendous number of excellent police officers. We should support them and remove obstructions to their mission.

See, practical isn’t always boring.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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