Valid Opinions or answers to the wrong questions?

Ballot Envelope

Ballot Envelope

Husband:  Hey, we got a ballot in the mail.  I didn’t know there was an election.

Me: There isn’t.  Is it for the Grand Avenue Bridge?

Husband: From Citizens to Save Grand Avenue.

Me: I heard that was coming.  They are trying to get a reading on what the citizens want.

Husband: So who gets to fill it out? There is only one. What if we don’t agree?

Me:  Hmmm, good point . . .

So if you live in the City of Glenwood Springs you may have received an envelope addressed to Local Postal Customer.  This is a well-intended effort on the part of the group Citizen’s to Save Grand Avenue to see how the citizens of Glenwood Springs feel about the replacement of the Grand Avenue Bridge.  It looks fairly official.  It is stamped BALLOT on the front but clarifies on the top of the ballot that it is a Public Opinion Ballot.  It comes with arguments for and against. 

The wording on the ballot states that “This ballot is sponsored by Citizens to Save Grand Avenue and will allow you to express your choices regarding the current plan to replace the Grand Avenue Bridge.”  Then it asks the questions:

A. Should the Glenwood Spring City Council stop the current plan allowing the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to replace the current Grand Avenue Bridge

B. Should the Glenwood Spring City Council initiate long-range planning with CDOT now to get Hwy 82 off Grand Avenue?

Then there is a place for two printed names and signatures along with addresses.

While I admire the spunk of the C2SGA group there are at least three issues with this ballot that will essentially render any results invalid.

The first problem is that of a false choice.  Question A intimates that the city has the authority to allow or disallow CDOT to replace the bridge on a State Highway.  This is simply not the case. The State of Colorado, specifically Colorado Department of Transportation, is responsible for the 9,146 mile highway system that includes 3,447 bridges. The Grand Avenue Bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete due to four deficiencies:

  • The bridge is too narrow with lane widths of 9’4”
Narrow lanes on bridge - Photo courtesy of CDOT

Narrow lanes on bridge – Photo courtesy of CDOT

  • There is insufficient vertical clearance at 7th Street – as low as 12’ in some areas
  • Substandard  horizontal clearance along I-70 eastbound to the bridge piers
  • Substandard horizontal clearance along I-70 westbound to the bridge piers
    Bridge Piers Adjacent to I-70. Photo Courtesy of CDOT

    Bridge Piers Adjacent to I-70. Photo Courtesy of CDOT

     

The bridge was rated “satisfactory” in a bridge inspection in 2010.  However, there are signs of deteriorations in the concrete curbs and piers, exposed reinforcing steel on the curbs and piers, corrosion on the railing, girder corrosion, damage at 7th Street due to vehicle impact, and corrosion on bridge supports. Additionally, the load capacity is 55% of new bridge design standards.

The funding is through the Colorado Bridge Enterprise (CBE) and assuming that after the devastating flooding on the eastern slope there are still funds available, this fund is to be used for bridge repair and/or replacement only.

The bottom line is that CDOT is working with the City of Glenwood Springs, but it is CDOT’s responsibility to make sure that the bridges on their state highway system are safe.  If they are not, they will be repaired or replaced at the will of the State. The city cannot tell CDOT to stop. If the State determines the bridge needs to be replaced due to safety concerns, CDOT will take whatever steps necessary to get the job done.  

The second problem is with question B.  I doubt there are many that would say the City should NOT explore some other options for routes in/out and around our town. This was particularly apparent during the Coal Seam Fire. However, it is important to keep in mind this has been the topic of discussion for at least 50 years.  The problem goes back to the dialog between me and my husband.  We often disagree on the best choice, whether it is where to go for dinner or what brand of appliance to buy or what route to take to a favorite camping spot.  So it goes for Glenwood.  The Citizens of Glenwood have NEVER come to a consensus on where or if there should be ways to get through or around town that do not include Grand Avenue. Perhaps there has not been enough vision about ALL of the possibilities.  Perhaps just one more study will provide the answer.  But question B indicates “long-range” planning.  I am not sure our sick old bridge will be around long enough to see what a long-range plan will be.  Can we afford to take the chance with the lives of thousands of people who cross it daily?

The third problem again goes back to my conversation with my husband and the fact that we may not agree with each other.   I am not a statistician, or a have I ever conducted a sampling but it seems to me that a sampling error is possible.

As sociologist Herbert Gans stated that “polls are answers to questions rather than opinions.”  The answers you get are only as good as the questions you ask.   But, I’ve got to admire their determination!

What do you think?

 

The Value of Community Service – Rest In Peace Former Governor John D. Vanderhoof

This post is a reprint of a Facebook post from Linda Vanderhoof, the daughter of John D. Vanderhoof, former Governor of Colorado from Glenwood Springs.  Please keep the Vanderhoof family in your prayers.  Governor Vanderhoof was a great community man who knew the value of contributing and serving.

John D. Vanderhoof

John D. Vanderhoof

“Thursday Evening a great man left this world. A member to the WWII Generation, he served in the USN Air Corps in the F$F Hellcat in the Pacific Theater earning multiple medals including The Navy Cross & the Purple Heart. Like so many men of his generation he came home determined to build a better America than he was born into. He convinced his war bride and his father to start a sporting good business in a sleepy little tourist town, Glenwood Springs Colorado. Later His brother would join them in opening up a banking business. He raised 2 children, and entered politics. He served 20 yr in the House of Representatives, many of those years serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was elected to the office of LT Governor in 1970 and later ascended to the office of Governor of The Great State of Colorado in 1972. When he left office he led Club 20 (an organization the works promotes the economic & political goals of Colorado’s 20 western Slope Counties) for many years. He married his real soul mate Ruthie.

 

This was my father, John D. Vanderhoof.  The greatest lesson he taught me was the importance of service.  He always told me we must give back to our community.  It did not matter how.  If one taught church school, participated in the PTA, volunteered at the local food bank, a summer reading program . . . It did not matter . . . It was just important that we give back to our communities.

 

In his 1st State of the State Address he ended with a statement which I can only paraphrase.  He told us to “leave Colorado a better place than we found her.”   He would advise all of us to extend that concept to our neighborhood, our hometown, our state and our great nation.  If we want a better life for our self and those who follow, we must follow the lead of The Great Generation, and put the well being of all ahead of our own.  We must spend some of our time and energy serving our communities.

 

Please keep my family in your prayers and consider pondering on my father’s wisdom.  I believe we would all be better if we listened to it.”

Top priorities for Glenwood . . .are there others?

At the end of a recent blog post http://wp.me/p3S5Sv-3v I asked the question, “What do you think are the three top priorities that Glenwood should be addressing over the next 3 years?”   Some of the responses I received were expected and some were surprising.

 As promised, here are the results I have received thus far.  I have put them in alphabetical order, so there is no ranking involved.   Along with the larger categories are a few comments associated with the items.

Small beach on Roaring Fork River in Confluence area

 

  •  Authenticity
    •         Offer a more authentic experience for Glenwood visitors
    •         Emphasis on natural outdoor experience and healthy recreation and living
    •         Promotion of visual and performing arts
  • Communication
    •         Find ways to increase communication with citizens
    •         Innovative and multiple ways to communicate
    •         Develop methods/techniques/means for citizens to talk with elected    officials, boards and commissions
    •         Ongoing dialog needed – citizens get frustrated and give up
    •         Make information easily and readily accessible to the public
    •         Increase transparency
  • Confluence Redevelopment
    •         Make this are area that pulls the town together
    •         Make this a focal point for Glenwood
  • Economic Development
    •         Long-term, sustainable economic development needed
    •         Shared vision and strategy
    •         Public-Private Partnerships
    •         Work within the community to define direction and priorities
  • Housing
    •         Expand in-town choices
    •         More inventory needed in core areas
  • Leadership
    •         Identify and develop leaders in the community
    •         Determine how to get new, different, younger people involved
    •         Improve the working relationship between City staff, elected officials, boards and commission
    •         Expand communication, cooperation and collaboration with other governmental entities within the region
  • Long-term Fiscal Health
    •         Develop strategies for dealing with an increasing demand for infrastructure, services and long-term operations/maintenance
    •         Seek ways to increase efficiencies in providing services
    •         Increase the cooperation between community development and capital improvement planning
    •         Identify efficient patterns of growth

 Grand Ave by Sacred Grounds 4-5-13

  • Mobility/Transportation
    •         Improve connectivity of local network
    •         Improve bike/pedestrian facilities on existing streets
    •         Improve coordination between land use patterns and transit system – regionally
    •         Complete the Grand Avenue Bridge to maximize the benefit to Glenwood Springs and the entire region
    •         Make the hard decisions to improve north/south travel through Glenwood with an eye on practicality and the chance of it actually getting to completion
    •         Develop a Regional Transportation Master Plan
    •         Development of  Midland Avenue as an alternate route is waiting to happen
    •         Completion of South Bridge is critical
    •         Need an 8th Street connection to Midland Avenue
    •         A 14th Street connection to Midland Avenue is needed
    •         27th Street Bridge must be improved

 

6th Street Looking East Spring 2013

  • North Glenwood
    •         Currently blighted but new bridge alignment provides motivation for a new vision
    •         Has the location, infrastructure, businesses, entrepreneurs and property owners to partner with City
    •         Need to identify leaders to make this happen
  • Performing Arts Facility
    •         Focus energy on planning for the best possible facility in the best possible location

My intention is to make this an ongoing list and to address each item in upcoming posts.  Do you have additional items that should be added to this list?  Would you like to comment on any of the suggestions?  If so, please do!  You can comment on this blog or submit a comment via the form at the end of the blog.  Thanks to all who contributed and I hope to be able to continue the conversation with each of you.

I am pleased to have been selected by the Sonoran Institute to attend the Glenwood Springs Community Development Academy which will be commencing Monday evening, September 16th.  I hope to tell you about some of the discussions as we progress through the eight week journey to make Glenwood Springs even better than it is now.

Are we operating in a silo?

clip-art-cows-762211

Are our boards and commissions – and maybe even City Council – operating in a silo?

I invite you to read my second article published in www.PlannerWeb.com.  I welcome your comments!

http://plannersweb.com/2013/09/are-your-boards-territory-folks/?goback=%2Egmr_2463680%2Egde_2463680_member_272594505#%21

 

Whatever you do, do it well!

Over the last eight weeks I have had the opportunity, between drug-induced naps (all legal!!) to do some thinking.  Thinking is one thing I could do since mobility was difficult.  OnPhoto0045FourBySixe of the things I have been thinking about is Disney.  If you know me very well, you know I am a huge Disney fan.  We generally try to make a trip at least every couple of years to Disney World in Orlando, which involves MONTHS of planning and lots of family.  The next one involves . . . wait for it . . . 18 family members.  Is it fun? Absolutely!    Does it all run perfectly?  Not a chance.  So why do we do this?  This quote from Walt himself kind of sums it up, “What ever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”

Disney does things, for the most part, very well.  No, not every experience is perfect, but for a grandma trying to make magical memories with her grandkids, there is no better place.  But what makes this magic?  What is the recipe?  And can others learn from it?

In a recent blog post by Todd Zenger titled “The Disney Recipe” in Harvard Business Review http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/05/what_makes_a_good_corporate_st.html  Mr. Zenger maintains that Walt did indeed have a strategic recipe.  To see a detailed mind map of this, please visit Mr. Zenger’s blog.  Mr. Zenger stated this corporate theory has evolved over time and it is a tool that can be used to create and sustain growth.  According to Mr. Zenger, effective corporate theories include three key elements:

  1.  FORESIGHT about an industry’s evolution, technological changes or developing customer preferences. 
  2. INSIGHT about the assets and resources available. 
  3. CROSS-SIGHT.  Mr. Zenger describes this as, the ability to identify adjacent assets uniquely valuable to your firm or assets with value that others are simply unable to perceive.”

In another post on Business Financial Post a Canadian site, Caitlyn Coverly wrote an article, “The business lessons behind Disney’s magical experiences” based on her participation in June with 250 Greater Toronto Area (GTA) business professionals in an all day “Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence,” seminar. http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/07/the-business-strategy-behind-disneys-magical-experiences/ In this article she identifies five universal assets of a successful business – also known as the Disney Chain of Excellence from the Disney Institute.  These assets are:

  1. leadership excellence
  2. cast excellence
  3. guest satisfaction
  4. financial results
  5. repeat business

In her closing paragraph, she stated that the folks at the Disney Institute left the attendees with this thought, “In order to attain growth, an organization must be willing to take risks that test the organizational identity and push its products and/or services to new levels. These risks succeed when they allow the previous organizational identity to remain, while expanding into new territory.”

Ok, you say.  Interesting – but how does it apply to Glenwood Springs or any municipality, county, state or any government for that matter?  Interspersed over the next few posts, I will give you my thoughts on whether the Disney model is appropriate for Glenwood Springs.  I would also like to hear your thoughts.  Is Disney an appropriate model for government?

I also have another question. 

Disney places a huge emphasis on their guests’ experience.  Who do you think would qualify as Glenwood’s “guests”?  Are they the visitors we attract? Are they the citizens within the city limits? Could it be the citizens of the region from Aspen to Rifle?  Is it a combination?  

Stay tuned as we explore this topic.  You may reply directly on the blog or  by using the comment form below. I look forward to hearing from you!

What are the top 3 issues facing Glenwood Springs?

Glenwood Springs Courtesy Glenwood Springs Resort Association

Glenwood SpringsPhoto courtesy Glenwood Springs Resort Association

 

I apologize to anyone – all three of you – anticipating a more regular blog over the last 10 weeks.  I have returned to work full time to my day job and my other “civic” duties after my hip surgery.  However, the one thing that has suffered most is this little blog.  I have several items in queue for this blog but they are not quite ready yet.  So, I will shamelessly promote another project that I have undertaken.  Over the next year, I will be writing a series of articles for an on-line magazine, PlannersWeb.com geared toward citizen planners.  The articles will cover some of the issues that Glenwood Springs, the Planning Commission, the Transportation Commission and City Council are facing. The idea is to make the connection with other citizen planners and municipalities that are tackling similar issues.

So, I give you the introductory article for PlannersWeb.com.  As I have said before, I am a blatant promoter of Glenwood Springs . . . and I hope you agree with me that we live in a truly unique, beautiful area.

http://plannersweb.com/2013/09/glenwood-springs-an-introduction-to-a-rocky-mountain-small-town/

I am also changing the hosting site of this blog and so you may see some changes in how it looks over the next weeks.  This is a huge challenge for a technologically incompetent person like me, but will be worth it in the long run.  If you get emails about new posts, and you don’t want to get them, please let me know as I am trying to refine the mailing list associated with this blog.

This is a busy, exciting time for Glenwood Springs and for me and I am happy to be able to share it with you!  But first, a question.  What do you think are the three top priorities that Glenwood should be addressing over the next 3 years?  I will share my findings with you very soon!   Feel free to comment on this blog or comment via this form: