A two-hour walk home from Wal-Mart
AVON – Keith Foutz says his busted body “isn’t worth a damn” when he walks to work.He broke two vertebrae in a motorcycle accident on I-70 nearly three years ago and has two 14 inch rods holding his back together. He’s lives at Buffalo Ridge, an affordable housing complex above I-70, and doesn’t know how he’ll survive when the bus stops coming to pick him up at the end of April. He works at the Tire Lube Express in Wal-Mart and says he rides the bus five days a week and two times a day. He doesn’t drive a car because it’s too painful, and now he’ll have to make the slow, uphill walk home.”I rely on that bus big time,” Foutz said. “I’m kind of screwed here. I might have to move.”The bus stops at the Village at Avon, which includes Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Buffalo Ridge, are casualties of a long dispute between Avon and the Traer Creek Metropolitan District, the entity responsible for building roads and funding basic services such as snowplowing and police and fire protection at the Village at Avon.The town, which added the stops less than a year ago, believes the metro district should feel obligated to pay for the bus service, but the metro district says there is no obligation and that Avon regrettably started a route it couldn’t afford.People like Foutz though don’t particularly care about the dispute. They just need a bus, he said.
“I’m going to have to start walking to work, and that really wastes my back all day,” Foutz said. “It takes almost two hours to get home. I can walk about 500 feet, then I have to rest. I’m not a wimp, but I have nerve damage.”Foutz hopes the town or the metro district that is essentially an arm of the developer, Traer Creek LLC, will change its mind so he can get to work with as little pain as possible, he said.”I watch people every day waiting at the bus stop,” Foutz said. “I have a habit of looking out my apartment window because I can’t go far.”Foutz isn’t alone at Buffalo Ridge, and several residents depend on that bus stop, said Ralph Parks, a property manager at the apartments. Before it existed, many residents wrote and called Avon to ask for one.”It really bothers me. They told them they would have it, so they shouldn’t pull it out from under them,” Parks said. “Many people moved here with that bus service in place.”Now, many residents will have to move, lose their job or hurt themselves walking, Parks said.
“I couldn’t care less about the dispute (between Avon and Traer Creek),” Parks said. “I can relate to what’s going on, but it has to be resolved.”====================================Bus warsThe debate over buses has been a long one. Avon wanted the Traer Creek Metropolitan District metro district to pay for bus service to the Village at Avon when it started last June, but the district didn’t think bus service was necessary, at least not yet.The district – basically an arm of Village at Avon developer Traer Creek LLC – agreed to consider a funding a route when more people move into the area and when more businesses are paying taxes. The town council decided to start service anyway and pay the bill.Now, Avon leaders say they can’t afford it anymore.”The town was hopeful that once they (Traer Creek) saw how many passengers it was moving, they would help out,” town manager Larry Brooks said. “Legally, they don’t have to, but when are they going to believe it’s justified?”
Metro district president Dan Leary said it’s misleading to suggest that the metro district has a moral obligation to fund what he calls an “unsustainable bus service.””The town decided to start the service on its own initiative,” Leary said. “Apparently it was an untimely decision.”Avon doesn’t buy it. Mayor Ron Wolfe said the metro district could easily raise the sales tax for the Village at Avon, which could be used to fund transportation. The sales tax at the Village is currently 4 percent. Brooks said an increase of .5 percent, or 50 cents for every 100 dollars of groceries at Wal-Mart, could be enough to fund transportation.======================================Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.