I missed the Westcliffe Town Meeting at which Road and Bridge discussed improvements to Main and Rosita Streets. I wanted to attend, but apparently I lost my focus or my attention wandered. Perhaps I dozed off.
What a sad state of affairs! Had I attended the meeting, I would have had a lot to say. Not that the town wants to hear from me now… I missed my authorized chance…. but I can vent via my blog.
I find Westcliffe’s parking-friendly-plans for Rosita Street to be at-odds with my vision of a small, rural, mountain town. (The combined towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff total merely 1,155 in population.) When my husband and I bought our little 1888 house on Second Street 24 years ago, we were thinking ahead to retirement. To that end, I told our realtor that because we needed to be prepared for infirmity and the children taking away our car keys, we only wanted to look at houses in town within walking distance of the library, the grocery, and the health clinic. We successfully realized that dream when we bought a house only two blocks from Main Street.
And so I walk. My perfect week is one in which our vehicles are parked, and I walk everywhere I want to go. I don’t need a sidewalk. It’s a treat to walk down a street on which drivers will slow down and stop to visit with me.
So you can imagine my despair when walking along Rosita towards the Custer County Courthouse, I saw yellow X’s and orange ribbons around some trees. Trees, I imagined, destined for destruction.
I’m an unabashed tree-hugger. Every Christmas, my father (a man with a Welshman’s love of the vocal arts) always read Hans Christian Anderson‘s The Little Fir Tree. And every Christmas, I cried as the tree that yearned to be in a festive family home found itself decorated for a short time but ultimately burned at season’s end.
Not that I knew about metaphors at the time, but it was a brutal metaphor for the life of all living things.
As is typical with me, I’m a day late and a dollar short. Just as I thought of proposing raised planters to be built in the middle of each block of Second Street, I learn that the town is leaning in another direction. Apparently beautification and slowing traffic is not a high priority.
The town plans to widen the already too wide street to accommodate diagonal parking and sidewalks for the convenience of summer visitors who come for our music festivals, theatrical productions, and numerous activities on-offer. Improving the storm sewers is another consideration, but I’m thinking that could be accomplished without removing the trees.
Apparently, it is mostly about parking. What’s the matter with walking a few blocks! I’m thinking that if you want to park – go to Wal-Mart. They have generous parking. (Although that said, no matter how large a parking lot, you will see drivers slowly snaking their way row after row hoping for a parking spot that is 20-feet closer to the store’s entrance.) As for sidewalks, sidewalks are for cities.
Westcliffe is a small town. I am not against growth or light industry. It would be great if we could keep or attract younger residents. If we are looking to attract younger residents, we need jobs. If we are looking to attract full-time tele-commuters and retirees, we need to preserve our landscape. If we are looking to attract more tourists, we need better promotion. But in all three cases, we need to think of the town’s ambiance. Widening streets for parking does not lend itself to charm.
It is particularly painful to see the trees north of St. Luke’s targeted for removal. Some years ago, beautiful, specimen firs were removed because their roots were putting the church foundation at-risk. Watching the firs come down was understandable but very sad. Small Aspen trees replaced the fallen firs. Little by little, the Aspen have grown. But it is only a matter of time before they too come down.
ALL FOR PARKING!