UP BEAR CREEK | Telluride Sinks Joint RTA
by Art Goodtimes
May 13, 2013 | 1913 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TRANSIT DISAPPOINTMENT … It was 16 years ago, when I’d first got elected, that Commissioner Jim Craft was eager to see the community form a Rural Transportation Authority under new (at the time) legislation that let two or more government entities join in forming such a group. I supported him, but other Telluride leaders weren’t ready for coordinated transit planning. So the idea foundered … Living in a very distant resort where the economic engine (Telluride/Mountain Village) doesn’t have enough housing to support its workforce, transit seemed crucial to a sustainable economic future, not just our quality of life … For over a year Jenny Patterson and a lot of savvy locals have been trying to lobby local governments to start working together on transportation issues and resurrect the joint authority concept. Not just commuter traffic but our lifeline to tourist traffic, which is the basis for industry in the county. Right now most of those functions – funding for airlines to fill seats, the Galloping Goose transit service, the gondola – all are controlled and operated by different groups. There was talk of a ballot measure in time for this year’s fall elections … But the Town of Telluride has nixed the idea. Fear of future gondola financing has led the town council members to bury their heads in the sand. It’s a shame. Clearly any one entity is too small to service all the needs that the community has in the arena of transportation. By joining together, chances of snagging some federal and maybe even state help for our local systems would be high. And we could work together as a mature resort to plan for our worker and visitor futures … When the roundabout financing came around, it was the Mountain Village under a former mayor that dragged its feet and couldn’t find its way to sharing a significant portion of the cost of the traffic infrastructure, claiming it didn’t affect the Town of Mountain Village. Clearly baloney … Now it’s the Town of Telluride that doesn’t want to work cooperatively. As a commissioner representing the entire county but living on Wright’s Mesa, it’s why many of my West End constituents roll their eyes when they talk of the east end of the county and its inability to work together on important issues. And it comes just when I thought we were maturing as a resort, getting over our petty antagonisms, old feuds and balkanization of attitudes that our multiplicity of local governments fosters.

 

SCI-FI … As a young man just beginning the adventure of reading, science fiction was completely fascinating. I gobbled up books by Bradbury, Heinlein, LeGuin, and dozens of others. But as I got older, some of the fantastical lost its edge, as I found the actual scientific world around me even more fascinating and challenging. And as I developed a taste for fine writing, many sci-fi books left me unsatisfied, more interested in action plots and gimmickry than writing finesse and polish … However, visiting my daughter in San Fran and casting around for reading material one day, I opened her partner Bert’s copy of Psychoshop (Vintage, 1998) by two of the greats of the sci-fi genre – Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny. Bester left the unfinished manuscript after his death in 1987, and Zelazny agreed to complete it, just before his own death in 1995 … In the intro, Greg Bear calls them sci-fi jazz masters, and the book is a wild romp with lots of dazzling riffs and improvisational delights. I was thoroughly hooked. Great dialogue. Lots of plot twists as well as ironic turns that seem based on science just beyond our ken. And a decent nod to the larger philosophical questions, as well as a fast-paced, film noir, mystery novel flavor … Highly recommended.

 

GOOD EATS… All the years I lived in San Francisco, I’d never really had dim sum – the Cantonese specialty that means “touch the heart” and involves bite-size snacks originally served along with tea in the older tradition of yum cha (tea tasting). Iris promised to remedy that gap in my cultural appreciation of the City’s multi-ethnic culinary roots … The restaurant she took me to wasn’t in Chinatown – where all the tourists go. The New Hong Kong Lounge was out in the Richmond District, where many Asians live. Right on Geary Boulevard (5322). She insisted we get there early, so we arrived shortly after they opened. The place was already crowded, and we took a table in a back dining room. Most of the diners were Asian. Of the 100 or so people seated already, only one or two tables sported Anglos. By the time we left around noon, the line stretched out onto the sidewalk  … One of Iris’s friends joined us – she’d driven over the Bay Bridge from Oakland to catch brunch with us … They both told a story of an earlier meal and of waiting in line for two hours to get a table, and although they were annoyed, how the food was worth it. And it was! Incredibly tasty steamed buns, coffee-baked chicken, lemon egg tarts to die for. We must have ordered a dozen dishes from roasted parsnip cakes to shrimp dumplings. Great tastes, sauces, flavors … It was easily the best meal of the trip, and Iris made sure we sampled some great dishes. My only regret is forgetting the leftovers on our way back to Colorado – we’d meant to take them with us on the road, and when we found we’d forgotten them, we were jonesing for an entire morning … Highly recommended.

 

THE TALKING GOURD

 

Ms Beautiful

 

-excerpts from an elegy for Kirsten Phillips

 

I think of you now

Every day and I know

You’re home now

At peace, out of reach…

 

There are no great words now

To describe this loss of your light

Your twinkling eyes

Your sweet angelic face

Your youth -- big, sweet smile and

Your beauty…

 

Gone too soon

Into the moonlight

Into the windy springtime

When, in time, everything blooms

But gone too soon…

 

-Kary D. Herndon

Norwood

 

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FaceOnMars
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May 14, 2013
Art, while I certainly respect and perhaps support the vision of an integrated regional transportation effort (sans taxpayer subsidization of an airline guarantee fund - especially given the trajectory of Telski marketing / pricing structure), I do believe it was the regional transit committee which "buried it's head in the sand" with respect to ignoring the significance of the gondola in the grand equation.

Maybe I'm missing some sort of procedural "no no" which prevents coordinating preemptive talks on this significant financial obligation with many political overtones; however, I would suspect an RTA agreement may have easily skated through an approval process if the details of future funding & management could've been ironed out beforehand. I'm not saying it's an easy task, but the issue should've clearly been seen as the elephant in the room and no amount of reassurance or finger (or toe) crossing could mitigate it's presence as being the sticky wicket.

Even if all other entities (i.e. Town of Telluride, Norwood, Ophir, Sawpit, ect.) are guaranteed complete autonomous control to steer clear of an unresolved gondola issue, the absence of accord re: the gondola issue would still be something which always pecked away at the overall spirit of cooperation.

It is even possible the RTA could've really blown up in another 10 years if a perpetual impasse still existed & we might be stuck with a bad marriage with all parties seeking the closest (but non existent) exit. Ultimately, all parties would be forced to work together, but imagine how the smaller municipalities may have been more severely dragged along for the ride ... as was the case in Ophir with respect to the SMPA undergrounding surcharge.

Maybe this "round" can be viewed as a learning experience & the RT Committee can regroup to address the particular issue of the gondola head on - first and foremost. Maybe it'll take a couple few years on the front end, but maybe it'll afford us the opportunity to "get it right" which all parties can ultimately live with in the long run.