Omar M. Campbell: Justice center debate
April 6, 2004
It seems that a cabal of influential downtown businessmen is fanning opposition to the west-of-town location for the new justice center.
They apparently see the small amount of city-created wetland as the most vulnerable point of attack. Their strategy is to stir up a lot of protest to the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, and the Colorado Fish and Game Department in hopes of getting the wetlands application rejected.
One has to wonder if the current designation as “wetland” is even valid, because it was artificially created by the abandoned city sewage lagoon in the first place. Disregarding that, the county has arranged to mitigate the 1.43-acre “loss” by replacing it with 2.145 acres both onsite and at another site that would be approved by the EPA The source of these figures is the county’s 2003 Mitigation Plan, available at the county courthouse for those interested in reading it.
An even more devious approach being used is spreading misinformation that the existing courthouse eventually will be moved to the site of the justice center. The county commissioners assure me this is definitely a fabrication. All county functions and services will remain at the present location into the foreseeable future.
The voters rejected the original downtown location as too expensive, too obtrusive (the high-rise parking facility) and too much of a traffic/parking problem. All of the city precincts voted against the downtown proposal.
In spite of this, the council majority wrote a letter to the commissioners, asking them to reconsider the final location — after the series of articles in the Pilot & Today opposing the west-of-town location. So much for the council’s concern for the opinions if its constituents.
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If the readers are sympathetic to the above, they can help the county by letters, phone calls, attending council meetings, and sending e-mails to City Council and to the above federal and state agencies, supporting wetland approvals.
Omar M. Campbell