Downtown Beauty Broken?

Dodge City, Kansas – The drive from Grand Junction along US-50 was uneventful and remarkably pleasant. Evan and I both like Salida, so driving through there was nice, as was the drive over Monarch Pass that preceded it.

Traveling east across the plains from Pueblo was interesting, especially driving through the small towns along the way. It was much more stimulating than driving the Interstate. So much more to see, to explore, to smell…There is a monstrous feedlot just east of the sign that says “Welcome to Prowers County“. You can smell it about 3 miles before you even see it.

I was very interested in the Sentinel article about the first day of the Grand Junction City Council’s retreat, especially in relationship to my post yesterday. Some of the “broad, familiar themes”, as Mike Wiggins termed them, included a couple that I have been thinking about:

  • Securing Public Safety – A laudable goal, so long as there is an understanding that such security will only come with a continued commitment to working together with the remainder of the county’s public safety agencies. This includes the exploration of both consolidation and diversification to improve efficiency from both an operational and fiscal standpoint. One example is the county’s Emergency Manager, who remains the only such professional in Mesa County, despite several examples of similarly-sized Home Rule cities in Colorado seeing the need to employ their own Emergency Management personnel.
  • Preserving the Grand Valley’s agricultural community and open spaces – I believe that the completion of this goal is highly dependent upon significant review and revision of the Persigo Agreement.

I was also intrigued by some of the comments attributed to City Council members regarding their stated preference for the development of taller buildings in the Downtown core, perhaps not unlike the new parking garage with its’ associated space advantage and impressive vistas.
Impressive at least if you are on the inside looking out, not so much the other way around.

Teresa Coons may want to “be able to lean out the window and yell at somebody”, but some people don’t necessarily want others looking out their windows at them, witness the IRS Special Agent who approached me as I was descending the garage stairs on Wednesday about why I was taking pictures from up there. I wonder how much the Feds really like that vantage point across the street from their building, or if anyone even asked them about it.

And when Gregg Palmer was quoted as saying that the city should be “trying to push things in and up rather than let them spread out”, I couldn’t help but think that he was trying to sell brassieres instead of development plans.

Sorry, but I just can’t envision a bunch of buildings between 5 and 10 stories, or between the size of the new garage and the Alpine Bank building, enhancing the quality of the experience of the Downtown area, especially when, as I’ve shown before, such structures, if not meticulously planned with regard to their outside surroundings, will likely interfere with the aesthetic connection between the Downtown and the natural beauty that surrounds it. Frank Lloyd Wright called this concept Organic Architecture.

Maximizing the density of Downtown through taller buildings may be one way to prevent a growing city center from sprawling into areas unintended for such things, but there are other ways as well. Like saying no, especially when considering the likely effect of more employees and residents in taller buildings. That means more traffic through the neighborhoods that flank the Downtown “core” on at least two sides. And that’s where residents of those neighborhoods, like myself, begin to have serious concerns.

Onward to eastern Oklahoma tomorrow. Have a great day.

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