Editors note: This letter has its roots in a "Letter to the Editor" originally posted by John Steinert on January 17, 2013. CLICK HERE to read John's letter. Norm Vance responded to Steinert and now Glenn Walsh, who sits on the PAWSD Board (most likely creating some sort of physical ailment or just sheer exhaustion) responded to Mr. Vance. You can read Norm Vance's letter by CLICKING HERE.
For those of you unfamiliar with these local residents, let me offer this very brief history. John Steinert has lived in Pagosa Springs for over 25 years now. He served on the Town Council, was on the Town Charter committee, and served on the advisory council for the Downtown Master Plan and the Comprehensive Plan for Pagosa Springs. He also owned a wildly popular retail ski shop “Juan’s Ski and Rental” at the Hot Springs for many years. Currently he teaches skiing at Wolf Creek in the winter and raft guides in the summer.
Norm Vance…. does everything as far as I can tell. He is your basic “Community Servant” for Pagosa Springs. He has sat on too many boards to mention in a day and is the editor of the Pagosa Adventure Guide and he pretty much shows up where and when you need him.
Glenn Walsh is the smartest man I’ve personally met (aside from my husband of course). Frankly I don’t understand half of what Glen says but the rest of the MENSA folks in Pagosa probably do. He spends his weekends flying to New York to manage a law firm if that tells you anything. For fun, he decided to volunteer for the PAWSD (Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District) Board. Don’t tell him I printed this but he looks 10 years older since taking that position.
So there you have it, read on for yet another take on what is working in Pagosa (according to Mr. Walsh).
Well, I can see you were educated on the King James Bible!
I am reading this jeremiad as a personal lament that you've found yourself at a crossroads with old friends. Deeply unenjoyable to be sure. And I cannot extend any assurance that on the far side of a dispute a seemingly rock-solid relationship or two won't still be gravel.
But the Town is not in misery over this petition. Most of us are hotly contesting with our frozen water pipes (and soon will be hotly contesting the penalty rates we PAWSD board members will be charging customers while losing 40% of their water!).
Yet, I have to object to the group tone that is gathering about the petition to give voters a veto over turning their parks into amusement parks: Sorrow that things have gotten to this point. Concern at what we are putting the citizens through.
What are we putting people through? An exercise in real republican democracy. Town citizens petitioning to make changes to the charter under which they are governed.
The question of amusement rides in parks will either be decided by the Town Council as our representatives, or approved by the Town Council and then affirmed or rejected by the voters. In no case is the Town Council circumvented. We are just putting in place another level of review.
Honestly, who wants to assert that the voters have made poorer decisions than their boards over the past ten years in Pagosa?
In reaction to this, our Town government has behaved badly. Or 5/7th of them did. That's an education for Town voters, and hopefully for those board members: Does the prospect of the voters beginning to make decisions on the rules of the game frighten you so much that you break the rules?
Personally, I feel we need fewer "stakeholder groups" and decisions made "around the table." A little dissension amongst the people at the four or five tables where decisions are made about megareservoirs, megacampuses and megapipelines is a good thing.
I sit on a local board that has wasted $12 million on a reservoir that will never be built, $5 million on a sludge greenhouse that may never work, and built water production and treatment facilities which are 800% and 400% larger than average daily use, respectively.
Altogether, we at PAWSD have indebted our community with $29 million of bonds that we never put before the voters.
And now, despite the waste of at least $20 million of that money, many of my colleagues at PAWSD won’t commit to putting the next $10-15 million bond now in the planning stage to a vote of district voters.
Three votes are all you need to almost bankrupt a community at PAWSD.
Four votes are all you need on the Town Council to create a mountain of debt and turn Reservoir Hill into an acropolis of crap.
For me, the voters taking control and granting themselves a veto over our cherished million-dollar schemes (and who doesn't have a few) is a very positive thing.
Maybe the most "positive" thing about Pagosa right now.