Letters to the Editor – April 4, 2014

Time for new strategy on our airport

I arrived in Colorado Springs in 1964 when my father was transferred with the Air Force. My father’s final assignment was in Virginia Beach, but I decided to remain in Colorado, making it my adopted home for 50 years.

I was fortunate enough to see the old Antlers, Sheriff Sullivan’s Jail, and the many fine historic buildings along South Tejon and South Cascade. I met Joe Reich and worked with many great City Council members and city staff. In 1972, they had enough vision to give a ’60s hippie working for the war on poverty $11,500 to support the start-up of Colorado Springs “Free Clinic,” now Peak Vista Community Health Centers (El Paso County commissioners would not pony up a match).

I often wonder if I would have gotten that (or any) level of support from today’s community leaders? When I first flew into Colorado Springs, I stepped off the plane into the old Colorado Springs Airport terminal. I was overwhelmed by the sight of Pikes Peak. I loved this small town. Since those early days, I watched the city grow and change in size and character. There was always a conservative element but things got done for the good of the community, and our leaders had a vision (except for the urban “removal”) beyond self-interests.

Among other things, I watched the Colorado Springs Airport grow in size and volume — and then again watched it shrink, going the way of railroads to trucking with the advent of the Interstate Highway System.

And here we are today, trying to hold together another dying entity. So why not abandon the notion that Colorado Springs will ever be attractive to the airlines with Denver being only 60 miles from Colorado Springs? Why not step out of the box and be “visionary”?

Colorado Springs is not alone in its size and proximity to a major city and larger airport. Why not a high-speed train dedicated to moving passengers from Colorado Springs to DIA (and from DIA to downtown Colorado Springs and the new Olympic Center). Get on the train, go through screening while traveling to Denver, arrive at a secure location, go to your plane, get to your destination.

We could be a model for the country. Why not trade concrete for steel? It’s leadership.

— Ray Rhodes

Colorado Springs

City for Champions: different idea

Dear Mayor Steve Bach,

Thank you for hosting the presentation last Tuesday evening. We attended the meeting but left during the discussion because it became so controversial.

There didn’t seem to be answers to many of the questions. Clearly, the groundwork still needs to be laid for most of C4C. We’re afraid it’s going to get mired down with people from every camp micromanaging the project, although it’s commendable — and vital — that the citizens of Colorado Springs be involved.

We believe Colorado Springs is at a point of transition that people are ready to open up to new people, businesses and activities that would generate economic energy here. Colorado Springs needs to get into something big. We’re ready. We’re just concerned that it be done right and that it builds on the unique character of Colorado Springs. People believe this is an opportunity to bring diverse aspects of the city together. This is the time to transition Colorado Springs from a top-down, managed community to a ground-up, dynamic, inter-connected city.

Our idea: We think of “The Power of One.” Why shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to be a “champion”? Every citizen should have the opportunity to achieve their own personal best in whatever endeavor they choose. This enhances the quality of life in the city, creates a population that cares. [It looks like the conflict between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council reflects this conflict of the power versus the people. We think it’s over procedures more than policy. Surely, all can agree that Colorado Springs needs a “shot in the arm” (big time). We are in a rut.] The citizenry needs to — and we believe is longing to — get behind a plan to move forward. It needs to be based on what the people of Colorado Springs are about.

Basically, we believe C4C is a brilliant plan to bring the most visible elements of Colorado Springs together (Air Force Academy, UCCS, sports and medicine, art) to fill in the gaps and make the city into a coherent piece — like a beautiful, hand-crafted quilt — where everyone is WELCOME, encouraged and involved, functioning at the level of their own personal best and become part of the ever-evolving fabric of the city.

Walter and I want to encourage and support those of you who have spearheaded C4C. How can we as individuals participate in this project? How can our business serve as an example of how people can support and in turn benefit from development in Colorado Springs? This was the first question at the meeting: What is C4C going to mean to me? Maybe it’s not time yet to bring this before the public.

Maybe a public relations firm should be hired to be sure plans are presented in such a way as to “bring people along” with the plan. We think the different aspects of the plan need to be fleshed out much more carefully before there are public forums. You don’t want to be holding what should be committee meetings before you’re ready to present The Plan. The question is not if but how this project is to be accomplished. Get everybody on board! Figure out a way to make this win-win. Everybody can be a winner.

— Janet Sawyer

President, La Casita Mexican Grill