Monday, May 04, 2009

A Stitch in the Patchwork

Congratulations to Bill Pitts and Tom Kenyon, who along with incumbents Teresa Coons and Bonnie Beckstein were sworn in earlier today as members of Grand Junction City Council.
Your commitment to public service is admirable, and you've got a big job with just about as big a target on your collective backs.

Best of luck to all of you. I will continue to try my best to keep my comments respectful and directed at issues, not personalities.

One item on Council's agenda this evening relates to annexation. I continue to have significant concerns about the manner in which the City/County annexation "machine", driven by the Persigo Agreement of 1998 and seemingly unstoppable even in the face of challenging economics and reduced revenues, continues to add territory to the city limits.

However, tonight's action may actually shed a ray of the light of common sense onto this process, while at the same time continuing to illustrate the egregious nature of the manner the city has grown under the Persigo Agreement. Council will vote tonight on the annexation of six separate pieces of right-of-way along North Avenue (see partial illustration above), which comprise the remaining sections of one of the City's prime commercial and commuter corridors.

The good news; The entire length of North Avenue, from First Street to the I-70 Business Loop just west of 30 Road, will be in the city limits. For public safety, this simplifies things quite a bit, especially as they relate to traffic enforcement and accident investigation along North Avenue.

The not-so-good news is that the practical effects of these quirky annexations are somewhat embellished by this latest move, at least until the City gets around to annexing the remaining properties along North Avenue, east of 29 Road, that remain outside its' boundaries today.
The following illustrates this rather well:

Tonight's annexation (it's a foregone conclusion, and that's part of the problem) will include those parts of North Avenue highlighted in blue, thus unifying North as part of the city in both directions. Notice, however, all of the properties in white, which are not part of the City. There is still potential for confusion and miscommunication with incidents and criminal activity that begin in one jurisdiction and cascade over into another.

For example, if a vehicle traveling north on Morning Glory Lane is rear-ended by another vehicle, then pushed into the intersection of North Avenue and struck by a second vehicle, then it's quite possible that the Colorado State Patrol will be handling the first accident and the GJPD the second one. Lovely, huh?

An even more interesting example of this is the annexed property along 29 1/4 Rd, highlighted in red. Note the line drawn down the middle of 29 1/4 Rd, connecting this property to the right of way of North Ave. that will be annexed tonight. That line appears to illustrate that the City has taken only the west side right-of-way on 29 1/4 Rd., in order to connect the annexation to the remainder of the annexed properties and rights-of-way in the area.

What this likely means from a practical standpoint is:
  • If an incident happens at the annexed properties, the GJPD will handle it.
  • If an incident happens on the west side of 29 1/4 Rd., the GJPD will handle it. If it happens on the east side, the MCSO (or CSP, if it's an accident) will handle it.
  • If it happens at any other property in this illustration, the MCSO or CSP will handle it.
If you're confused, it's OK; you're not alone. Think of the 9-1-1 call taker trying to obtain this information, and assess jurisdiction, in an emergency situation. This may be followed by the dispatch of multiple agencies to sort it out and eventually determine the correct jurisdiction. How does this speak to the efficient management of limited public safety resources? Does this really have to happen this way?

One can only hope that with a new Council comes new questions, and the eventual re-visitation of the annexation process. In the meantime, I will continue to watch these developments.

Best of luck to our two new Council members as they try to navigate this quagmire in search of a more responsible way of growing our City.

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