Rough going |

Rough going

Kaye Ferry

Haven’t I said this before – penny wise and pound foolish? It seems that we’re about to go down a path that proves that adage once again. You’d think we’d mastered it by now. First I’ll talk about Seibert Circle.July 5 there was a public open house to view the proposed addition to the circle that has been the source of great controversy over the past how many years now?The original hoopla surrounded Pete, the namesake of one of Vail’s most public places. Sides lined up to weigh in on a fitting memorial to one of our founders. And even Pete was there, as these discussions preceded his death by several years.Through a process that to this day is unclear to me, a bunch of rocks were carved and strategically placed around the circle to the delight of some. To others, their artistic value remained a mystery only to be followed by a sigh of relief when they were finally hauled away.In their absence, however, came the gnawing question of what to do next. A committee was formed and by now you probably now my feelings on design by committee. But nonetheless, they met and proved my theory true once again. You cannot design by group consensus and get any result that even approaches original thought or interesting design, much less something that anybody can get enthused about.What is proposed is a massive edifice that truly looks more like a war memorial in an old Eastern bloc country than something fitting a little pseudo Bavarian village in the Rocky Mountains.To top it all off, like everything in Vail, it’s already over budget and we’re barely started. But hey, why break tradition now?So here we go again. A serious lack of support for something that’s too much money all in an attempt to replace something else that had a serious lack of support and was too much money. Sounds like a pattern to me. And one that would only be made when spending someone else’s money. But what’s the rush? It’s about time we got a little support before we spend any more money up there. Personally, I like the benches and potted trees that are there right now better than just about anything else I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s slow down, figure it out and get it right.While I’m out on the street, I may as well stay there. Because even being the masters at the re-do, this one is almost unimaginable. There’s been a petition circulating to re-do lower Bridge Street. The pavers haven’t even been down for a year yet and we’re looking at the third go-around.So how did this happen? Well, the original pavers had to be replaced because they didn’t meet the specs. I guess a good question might be why this was not determined before they were actually laid down. But nonetheless, it wasn’t, and we pulled up series one and replaced it with series two. But where did this idea of a third re-do originate? It came from not listening – nothing more and sadly, nothing new. It seems as though one of the handicapped community -a universal access consultant – tried to begin a dialogue with the town waaaaaay back at the beginning of this streetscape discussion. I mean like almost two years ago. A problem was in the making and they tried repeatedly to address it before it happened.There were a lot of smiley faces, but only deaf ears. No matter how often or how vehemently they insisted that a smooth pathway be incorporated into the plan, they got no response.So off the town went, spending a fortune on a streetscape plan that was replete with intrinsic challenges for the handicapped both in terms of maneuverability and in generation of actual pain. But let’s not stop there. Shoes with almost any heel have trouble negotiating the surface and the complaints are endless, only to be matched by the bloodied knees. Babies risk brain damage as they are jostled around in their strollers. And the elderly guests proceed in terror. All because no one would listen.Even once the problem was clearly evident as complaints rolled in, still no response was made to the request. What was the request? That a 36-inch strip of smooth pavement be incorporated down the center of the streets to accommodate a significant number of circumstances.Keep in mind that so far only lower Bridge Street has been completed, as I said, twice. In an attempt to get the attention of the decision-makers before more of the street is completed this fall with the same problem, a petition was circulated over the Fourth of July. Only then did the applicant get a response.Lower Bridge Street will be torn up for the third time in a year, and smooth pavers will be installed down the middle. Additionally, Upper Bridge, Gore Creek Drive, etc., will be redesigned.There are several issues at play here that should cause every taxpayer to be incensed. Why should we ever disregard the needs of the handicapped community when the solution is obvious and easily achievable? It’s one thing to correct old problems in the town. It’s quite another to willfully create new ones.Moreover, when will we finally demand accountability from those who make costly mistakes at our expense? And not just once, but over and over.Even more to the point, how pitiful that the only way to get their attention is to sit in a wheelchair on the Fourth of July and collect signatures. We should all be embarrassed. Kaye Ferry, a longtime observer of Vail government, writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado

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