Letters to the Editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the Editor

Daily Staff Report

Letters to the EditorLineup for publication in Friday’s print editionCompiled by Daily staffFire district election itemsSince Jan. 1, 2001, the firefighters of Eagle River Fire Protection District have been answering your calls for help for everything from leaky water pipes to structure fires. We will continue to serve you diligently and faithfully forever. It is time that we sound the alarms for you, our citizens. On May 2, you will be asked to approve a modest tax increase for Eagle River Fire Protection District. This increase of 1.75 mills will bring the total mills to 5.55 mills. Eagle River Professional Firefighters Local 4245 is fully endorsing this tax increase.When the district formed, four stations were staffed with full-time, professional firefighters. Since 2001, we have grown to six staffed stations, adding full-time professional firefighters to Cordillera and Minturn. We have also added several firefighters to staff these stations. We have also been able to replace four engines. We did all of this on 3.8 mills. The time has come to ask for a tax increase. Additional revenue is needed to continue to provide the excellent service you have received and more. If approved, the increase will be used to continue replacing an aging fleet of fire apparatus including a 25-year-old ladder truck, will allow us to replace aging tools and equipment including jaws of life, breathing apparatus, fire hose, and other equipment approaching the end of its useful life. This tax increase will also be used to make much-needed repairs and remodels to stations that are too small for today’s large apparatus and increasing staff.All of the items mentioned above are necessary to run Eagle River Fire Protection District. If you live in Red Cliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Edwards, Cordillera, Bellyache or anywhere in between, please vote YES! at any of the following venues: Minturn Town Hall, Avon Fire station behind the library, or the Edwards ambulance building behind the post office.Also: On May 2, the citizens of Eagle River Fire Protection District will be asked to fill two board seats. Eagle River Professional Firefighters Association is asking you to vote for Michael Gallagher and John McCaulley. Michael Gallagher, appointed to the board last summer, has spent much of his time on the board supporting the needs of firefighters and the fire district. Michael is a former Eagle County Commissioner and has spent time in both the fire service and law enforcement. We look forward to four more years of Michael’s faithful service to the citizens of Eagle River Fire Protection District.Eagle River Professional Firefighters Association is also endorsing John McCaulley for the second board seat. John retired from Eagle River Fire Protection District in 2004 after 25 years, retiring as the Deputy Chief of Operations. While serving as a chief officer, John’s duties included response, policies and procedures, supervision, administration, and responsibilities in budgeting and finance. This means he has a great working knowledge of Eagle River Fire Protection District and the employees he helped to lead over the years.As a member of Governor Owens’ Advisory Board of Hazardous Materials Response, an executive member of Western Eagle County Metropolitan District, an executive member of the Special District Association of Colorado, and former Chairman of Edwards Metropolitan District, he has a great working knowledge of you the voters, and the community that Eagle River Fire Protection District serves.If elected, John will seek to develop plans for infrastructure improvement including fire station improvements and apparatus replacement plans; policy improvements including long-term strategic planning, create and implement ethics policies for the fire board, and create a plan for improving communications with citizens and employees. John will also strive to develop employee retention plans including implementing competitive pay plans with like departments and ensuring cost-of-living increases are in place.Please remember to vote on May 2 at any of the following locations: Minturn Town Hall, Avon Fire Station (behind the library), or the Edwards ambulance building (behind the Edwards Post Office).Eagle River Professional FirefightersA mustThe Greater Eagle Fire Protection District has one firehouse that now costs the taxpayer $63.10 per $100,000 per year of house value. Although the area coverage remains the same, growth has created a much heavier burden on the department. The only way to overcome this burden is to build more firehouses. For another $16.50, Western Eagle County will get a new fire house up Brush Creek and a second firehouse in Wolcott plus a shared station at the airport firehouse. All of this is possible by increasing the tax to $79.60 per $100,000.I, for one, am not a tax increase lover. But when you weigh the cost vs. the protection, I can only view this as a bargain. Most taxpayers will receive a deduction in their fire insurance costs because of this increased area coverage. Each firehouse will have two trucks and equipment. Area coverage will improve, and the time factor will be reduced.Common sense tells me that three houses are better than one. So, come May 2, please go to the fire station and vote “yes.” This is a “tax dollars at work” must.Arthur KittayEagleAn endorsementThis letter is to encourage all property owners in Eagle County to vote in the important May 2 election for members of the board of directors of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, and in particular to vote for Susan Pollack. In part, we are supporting Susan Pollack because of her unique independent, lay person non-affiliation with any developer. But this is only one of Susan’s qualifications to serve and represent you on this important Eagle County board. indeed, Susan is not an ordinary lay person! She has 20 years of experience in finance at the Public Service Company of Colorado, a large public utility. Coupled with this complementary background in public utility finance, she is knowledgeable about water issues within the county and in the state of Colorado, and she is a regular, devoted attendee and contributor at Eagle River Watershed Council meetings and other county non-profit organizations. Her volunteer positions on the boards of the Vail Rotary Club and Gore Range Natural Science School, as well as a graduate of the CMC course “Shaping the Future” have helped her develop a broad base of knowledge about the issues in the county pertaining to land, water and other matters. Now retired, Susan is willing to devote the necessary time to this board. We believe that Susan Pollack’s sincere desire to serve, coupled with her experience and knowledge uniquely qualify her to be an effective and influential member of this important board, and therefore a candidate very deserving of your vote. Please vote for Susan Pollack.Bob and Ann LouthanVailRunning for water boardMy name is Rick Pylman and I am running for a seat on the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors in the upcoming May 2 election. Over the last month I have come to realize that when one mentions the word “sanitation,” people generally start to look for the door. So I’ll keep this brief.The role the ERWSD plays in our community is vital all of us. The district operates the water and sewer treatment plants, monitors the quality of water in Gore Creek and the Eagle River and represents our interests in negotiations and battles with the Front Range cities that divert West Slope water. I will strive to ensure that the district is managed in a fiscally responsible and conservative manner, will insist we protect and enhance the water quality (and water quantity) of our rivers and streams, and will ensure that the district continues to be a forceful voice in statewide water rights issues. I support the intelligent use of water rights for recreational purposes (kayak parks) and believe our community can do a better job of water conservation.My 25 years here and my background of land-planning work have provided me with an impartial education and perspective in water rights issues and with the operations of the ERWSD. I have the background and knowledge to make a positive impact on behalf of all of the citizens in the Eagle River valley touched by the district. Please take the time to vote May 2. The polling locations will be the town of Vail offices, the town of Minturn offices, the Avon fire station and the Edwards ambulance building. I may be reached at 926-6065 to discuss these issues.Rick PylmanEdwardsFire tax hike neededI am Michael Gallagher. I have had the honor of serving you as a county commissioner and I now am privileged to be recently appointed to the board of directors of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.In all my government jobs, I have believed that you, the citizen, are the customer; and that it is our job to provide you with the protection and services for which you created the government. In the Eagle River Fire Protection District, the protection is from fire and the service is rescue and emergency medical treatment. It is because of that belief that I strongly encouraged the board of directors to present the mill levy question to you on May 2.A few years ago, this district was formed from many smaller districts, which were all being served by the same fire department. At the time of that election, the mill levy was set as low as possible. It was set so low in part to assure voter approval of the consolidation of the various districts into one. In the years that have passed, your board of directors has practiced great stewardship of your money. They have scrimped and saved, made do or done without. Now, that low mill levy has caught up with us. You might hear from opponents that growth should pay for itself. I agree completely. Developers have and will pay for fire stations and related vehicles and equipment. But staffing those stations is at our expense. And because our mill levy is too low, the new property taxes generated by the development will be less than needed. What was once set up to your advantage is now serving to your disadvantage. n We have gone too many years without raising our firefighter’s pay scales. n We fail to pay a fair and living wage to those we call on to risk their lives for us.n The turnover of our employees after costly training is costly. n Equipment as basic as fire hose is desperately in need of replacement. n Our only ladder truck is 20-some years old. n To keep the budget low, manpower needs have gone unfilled, often to the detriment of safe practices.n By necessity, it is now department policy to have only two firefighters on the first responding fire engine. You should know that two firefighters can do near nothing at a fire. One must stay at the engine to operate the pump; the other cannot enter the fire scene without backup. So they wait. n There is also a shortage of qualified fire officers. Sometimes an entire shift is led by a lieutenant instead of a battalion chief. And often a major fire station is operated by a fire tech instead of a lieutenant.n Some of our fire stations are not regularly staffed.n Our chief is exceedingly busy as district administrator. We very much need an operations chief to run the nuts and bolds of the department.Your fire department can only provide the services and protection if you give us the tools. I hope you will give us the tools to protect your family and your property. Thank you for your YES VOTE on May 2. P.S.: I cannot let pass this opportunity to comment on two other elections. n I believe strongly that the best candidates for the Upper Eagle Valley Water and Sanitation board include Debbie Buckley, long respected for her service in Avon; Ed O’Brien, a great history of business and service to the community; Mike Mathias, an enviable background of service: and Darell Wegert, who knows water, who served with me in government for many years and who is from Minturn – the time has come to rebuild those bridges. n Fred Haslee is a distinguished candidate for the board of directors for the ECHSD, better known as the Ambulance District. I have worked with Fred on emergency responses and I know him to hold the best interests of the public as the overriding priority.n I also support Bobby Warner for the Eagle River Fire District Board. POLLING PLACES:1. Eagle River Fire District, and Eagle River Water & Sanitation District: Minturn town offices, Avon fire Station, Edwards ambulance station.2. Ambulance District: at the Edwards ambulance station.Michael L. GallagherMinturn’Propaganda’For Don Rogers to say that the petition committee doesn’t care about businesses closing in Vail is really skewing the facts. Apparently, the propagandists have begun to believe their own propaganda about the benefits the project will allegedly provide.According to the propaganda, Solaris is all good things to all good people, a sort of all hours, all weather, all-purpose panacea that won’t rust, won’t tarnish, won’t crack and won’t ever need painting. Solaris will fix your business, fix your lifestyle, fix your children, fix your Friday night and maybe even fix your car. “Good God, if we don’t build it, what will the children do?”It’s utterly ridiculous.”Solaris will have affordable rents.” Interesting, I thought the $65-$85 per foot quoted to me is pretty much standard now. “Solaris will bring in the shops that we need.” As if we need the same stores found in every suburban shopping mall in America. “Solaris will make it possible for us to stay here.” There are a grand total of 12 employee housing BEDS provided in the proposal (these insisted upon by the “bean counters” on the Town Council, by the way). The rest are multi-million-dollar condominiums. So unless the developer is planning on donating condos to us poor slobs who keep things running around here, I can’t really see how. “Solaris will provide entertainment for the children.” Have we become so vacuous that we prize bowling alleys and video arcades and shopping malls over imagination and time spent in the great outdoors?In your editorial on Tuesday, Don Rogers asked why the Four Seasons and Vail Plaza Hotel were approved. It’s simple. Butts in beds are what drive the economy of this town; 400 new beds are going to do a lot more for business in Vail Village than a bowling.alley. In addition, we have new rooms, hot beds, at the Sonnenalp, at the Tivoli, at Arabelle, and at One Willow Bridge Road. None of these required 400 percent variances from zoning, all of which are solid additions to Vail and fit in with the atmosphere of the place.Why, then, does Solaris need to be so big? The developer will make a tidy $150 million profit off the project as proposed. The project could be within zoning, provide the bowling alley, movie theaters and public plaza, Peter Knobel could be the hero of the entire community and still make $75 million. The reason we’re here is because a $75 million profit just isn’t enough.Jonathan StauferVailEditor’s note: Mr. Staufer’s profit figures are his own estimates. Vail, Colorado

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