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Letters to the editor

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Avon bulldozed

Valley Citizens wake up! The bulldozer that is The Village at Avon is refueled and ready to roll.

The Town of Avon Council’s action on Tuesday, Sept. 23, will affect every one of us. Now is the time to tell the Avon council to put the brakes on the mad Traer Creek machine.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Town of Avon Council should deny the zoning requests for The Village at Avon at this time. The council must slow down developer Traer Creek LLC and take a comprehensive approach to the planning of their vast land holdings in Avon. Most fundamentally, I find it very difficult to envision Traer Creek’s current proposals north of I-70 without also understanding their plans for the valley floor. The vision is further hindered by Avon’s lack of a current and relevant “comprehensive plan” (land use master plan). I think allowing Traer Creek to develop their land in a piecemeal fashion, and without overall land use principles for Avon, is very unwise.

Upon hearing that Eagle County School District is not in favor of a school in the area known as RMF-1 (in the new I-70 interchange area), Traer Creek seizes the opportunity and proposes to move the school site to Tract M. Tract M, the vacant land north of the Eagle River near the Eagle-Vail commercial area, was previously considered relatively undevelopable because it is landlocked by U.S. Forest Service land. Traer Creek’s new Tract M plan not only relocates the public school site there but lays substantial residential density near the school, merely saying that the school district likes their schools this way. Notwithstanding that Traer Creek may not possess reasonable access to Tract M for months, if not years, they have asked the Avon Council to approve these immense changes to Tract M now. I believe there should be no relocation of the public school to Tract M until an exchange with the U.S. Forest Service for the access parcel is “a sure thing.” In addition, any such exchange by Traer Creek should be with Traer Creek’s local lands thereby benefiting the local community (through the USFS) and not some faraway parcel of land that may be on the USFS’s broader “wish list” and within Mr. Lindholm’s vast financial capability.

Also, as Avon Manager Larry Brooks suggested on Aug. 28, a conservation easement should immediately encumber any exchange parcel, assuring it will contain the Tract M access road and native grasslands only.

With the public school site conveniently deleted from their RMF-1 plans, Traer Creek then proposes to replace the school site not with another public-use facility, but with residential density in excess of their apparently allotted 2,400 PUD dwelling units. On Aug. 28, while proposing that 700-square-foot “accessory units” be allowed over RMF-1 homeowners’ garages, Traer Creek’s representative had the nerve to suggest that these accessory units not count against such 2,400 dwelling units either! I believe density in the RMF-1 area should remain six dwelling units per acre, as previously approved in Traer Creek’s PUD guide. Excessive amounts of accessory units within RMF-1 are not needed or desirable. In addition, the old RMF-1 public school site should contain a different public-type facility or area and not residential density.

I am also opposed to all of Traer Creek’s other proposals that: (1) force the Avon Council to rezone land without getting specific design criteria and commitments from Traer Creek now; (2) reduce landscaping requirements on developed parcels (how can Traer Creek even suggest that 5 percent landscaping is adequate?!); (3) convert any previously planned community park area to commercial zone; or (4) add a hotel to the I-70 interchange commercial area. None of these proposals benefit the community; I see no point in making the soon-famous Wm. J. Post Blvd. exit from I-70 just another dumping ground for poorly landscaped, nationally-branded commercial facilities and cloned residences.

Lastly, I believe that Traer Creek should be required to place conservation easements on every speck of PUD open space that now or hereafter exists. This will help assure valley citizens that the significant and important native grasslands and hillsides within Traer Creek’s control will be preserved into perpetuity.

Thank you to Avon Councilman Ron Wolfe, so far the only right-minded public voice on these Village at Avon topics (and sole dissenting vote on Traer Creek’s successful “first reading”), for recognizing the need to protect our quintessentially-Avon, Colorado, landscape features S not to mention our quality of life.

Come on valley Citizens, fuel up your own minds and voices. Let’s not get bulldozed by The Village at Avon again. See you in Avon on Tuesday!

Tamra Nottingham Underwood

Sage advice

David Le Vine is finally on the right track about something. Sort of.

He points out the importance of parental influence in education, by calling for a letter of understanding, to be entered into between schools and parents. This letter would have the parents acknowledge their role in their children’s education.

Hillary Clinton was even pointed in the right direction when she spoke about how it takes a village to raise a child. She was correct to the extent of pointing out that a child’s development is influenced by the surrounding culture.

For all its faults, the public school system is not the principal cause of discontent with education. It is the students. The cause is where they come from – families and communities. No matter how skilled a teacher may be, no matter how fancy the building and no matter how many gadgets in the classroom, it is all pretty ineffective unless the kids have a good attitude about learning. And a lot of them don’t. You can divide a class into three groups: (1) those who come there with an interest in learning; (2) those who are indifferent, but might be cajoled into paying attention; and (3) those who have a negative attitude, and cause trouble.

The third group is bad because the teacher has to spend too much time dealing with their behavior problems. The third group’s attitude is a bad influence on the others. And having to put up with all the hassles leads to teacher burnout.

This is nothing new. But it’s worse than before. It’s why more parents want to send their kids to private schools or public charter schools, where there is a more positive learning atmosphere.

But back to the issue of the atmosphere outside the classroom. Clarence Page is a nationally syndicated columnist. He recently did a few pieces about student attitudes. He spoke of a problem with upper middle class black students in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent suburb. The parents of these students hired an expert in student achievement to find out why these students, whose parents were achievers – doctors, lawyers, executives – still came in lower on test scores than their white peers.

This expert, John U. Ogubu, determined that the reason was cultural. Despite their parents’ standards, these children too often looked to the rapper culture for role models. Being studious was frowned upon as “acting white.”

I don’t think this problem is limited to blacks. A lot of white kids follow the Kidculture, which does not hold academic achievement in high esteem. Nor other virtues, like honesty, neatness and industriousness.

So what can a parent do? Signing letters of agreement with the school is more symbolic than effective. The first step is to recognize the problem. It’s cultural. The next step is to figure out how to reduce the effect of the Kidculture on one’s chil

dren. Clarence Page put it well:

“Parents fight a never-ending battle against the negative influences of their teens’ peers. It is a battle that must be fought relentlessly, as well as affectionately.”

“”We’re doing this because we love you,’ my folks used to say when they put me on lock-down until my homework was done. Ha, I scoffed, how could such cruelty possibly be linked to love? Lately I am realizing what they meant. Thanks folks, wherever you are. I’ll try to share the wealth.”

This means supporting the schools if they try to enforce higher standards, and get the bad actors out of the same classrooms that better kids attend. There are a lot of parents out there who will protest if the homework takes too long, the tests are too hard and discipline enforced. There needs to be a showing of popular support from the other side. By parents as well as other members of the community.

The law says a public school has to take in any kid who shows up. I don’t think it says they have to put them all in the same classroom, regardless of the effect some will have on the others. This includes the effect they will have on teacher morale.

If your kid gets into trouble at school, don’t instinctively take their side. The little angels can be devils at times.

And finally, parents could look at themselves. Do they act like education matters? What culture do they follow? Kids notice what their parents do. How many parents give a positive example by the lifestyle they choose and the education they continue to pursue themselves throughout life?

Terry Quinn

Eagle


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