Friday, March 07, 2008

Quod Me Nutrit, Me Destruit

Literally translated from the Latin, "What nourishes me also destroys me".

While popularized in a more provocative forum, the quotation has particular significance to me today, and also when I dwell on what is happening in the wake of the expansion of energy development across Western Colorado, and the resulting growth in urban centers such as Grand Junction.

The Sentinel's
February 1 editorial (no longer online) on the polarizing effects of this growth, and the manner in which it has been managed, eloquently summarized the plight of many who see the growth of the City of Grand Junction occurring not from careful consideration of the pros and cons by city officials, but in a random, haphazard manner driven by the dynamics of the real estate market and the desire of developers to gain the highest possible return on their land investment. This is a direct result of the Persigo agreement between the City and County in 1998.

As others have pointed out in the past, the resulting patchwork quilt that comprises the city limits, especially to the east, has caused confusion and consternation among residents, service providers, merchants, and public safety responders.

These feelings transcend the political spectrum, as evidenced by Rick Wagner's column of February 6 (please stay online for a while), which was one of the best summaries
that I've read regarding the issues at hand. Rick also touched upon the above paradox:
"Beyond the occasional fishing village, mountaintop retreat or overgrown souvenir shop masquerading as a small town, real progress cannot be made toward the improvement of an individual’s quality of life without some engine of economic opportunity.
Here in western Colorado, we are both the beneficiaries and the victims of such an existence. We also tend to believe we are the first to wrestle with these circumstances with the only choices being either a breakneck rush or wholesale stop."
Rick was writing about this in the context of the Grand Junction city council's decision of February 4 to disapprove a growth plan amendment for a proposed subdivision in the Redlands.
This same council, along with County Commissioners, also very wisely decided later in the month to decline to expand the Persigo sewer district into a behemoth nearly twice its' current size, a move which would have eventually turned Appleton and surrounding areas into the same patchwork quilt of jurisdictional jumbles that now defines much of Pear Park and Fruitvale.

As spring approaches, additional reporting and community discussions about growth have continued to bring home the title of this post in my mind. More people. More traffic. More roundabouts (bring 'em on, just keep 'em big). Monster dually pickups with Texas, Oklahoma, or Wyoming plates screaming up and down North and Patterson.

Other analogies pop up in my mind when I think about the energy industry's impact on our area. The actual work sites themselves are largely out of sight; it's their associated impacts that gradually erode our quality of life, much like the frog that will dart from a pot full of boiling water, but will sit in blissful ignorance and poach as the heat is slowly turned up.

I then read the Sentinel's front page on Wednesday, and stared in the face what will likely be for
many of us a source of enrichment and opportunity, but will also continue to erode the quality of life in the urban core as its' footprint expands.
Unfortunately, I'm speaking of Mesa State.

The approval of a $34 Million student housing and retail complex along North Avenue between 12th Street and Cannell Avenue is the latest salvo in the college's seemingly inexorable path westward through what were some pretty nice neighborhoods and buildings. I have to wonder out loud about the fate of the old St. Matthew's Church building, which is one of the finest looking buildings in town, secular or otherwise.

If we stand to lose this gem to just another housing / retail combination, teeming with jaywalking students, and packing more into less hospitable and confusing territory, I just can't buy the rhetoric being put forward by many that the college's growth will bring nothing but good things to our area.

To be continued..

No comments: