Letter: Forget the barn, focus on fire safety
I was woken up at 3 a.m. to my phone ringing. When I answered, I heard: “Get out of the house; there is a fire.” The line went dead. At the time, I was traveling out of state so I called my then-neighbor Brad — only to hear a quick response of “I can’t talk right now, I am fighting the fire.” Finally getting a hold of another neighbor, I quickly learned that my home was on fire and the fire department was on the scene doing their best to save it. This was September 2005, and I live on Saddle Ridge Loop in Wildridge.
Later, I had learned that the men and women that manned the Wildridge sub-station had smelled smoke, grabbed water cans, and started walking the neighborhood trying to identify the source. At this point, there had been no 911 call — they were simply acting on instinct. This outstanding effort and diligence of the Wildridge sub-station firemen saved my house — they were first on the scene, and able to hold the spread of fire until support arrived. Without that quick response my house would have been a total loss.
With that being said, I look at the town of Avon council members’ decision to pass the barn project as a frivolous use of money. The Wildridge sub-station that saved my home and my neighbor’s homes is now closed. This sub-station had a direct impact on many people’s safety and wellbeing. While the Eagle County fire department closed the sub-station, the town of Avon could use the money it plans to spend on the barn toward some type of fire prevention or task plan for the Wildridge community.
Our council is tasked with a significant amount of responsibility, and a duty to the people it serves to make decisions that serve the people, not a select group. It may be a thankless and difficult job, but it is important to never lose sight of the reason the people elected you: to represent their interests and the town’s best interests and safety.
I have been a local since 1986 and was never aware of the barn beyond the words. There was no historical significance, no town celebrations around it, no word of this except for the past couple of years, and more urgently, the past year. I question the historical significance of a barn that I would venture to guess many town of Avon citizens have never heard of, except for all of the energy and efforts of late trying to prove its significance.
After last summer’s fire threat, I urge you to take the millions of dollars you are proposing to spend on a barn and allocate it in a more reasonable and prudent manner — such as wildfire mitigation and education and increased fire protection in the town. After the safety of the people is addressed, perhaps we can take some of the money and invest in affordable housing, which is one of our No. 1 issues in the entire valley. These initiatives will actually impact a greater majority of people you claim to serve, rather than wasting time and money on saving a barn that pleases a few.