Monday, September 21, 2009

Busy Week in Review

Denver - This last week was busy for me. Intense material review and two tests, and it doesn't look like it will let up for this week either. I've been told this is one of the hardest weeks, as there is a lot of math and detail-oriented work involved. I was doing problems for homework yesterday and I see what they mean. I almost need a ruler to make sure I'm reading the right column or row on a conversion table. The reading glasses are helping.

Several occurrences and observations were noteworthy this past week, and I'd like to share a few of them.

The Seventh Street Historic District Overlay went over like a lead balloon at the City Council level, and rightly so. Council "continued", perhaps indefinitely, additional consideration of the overlay to the City's zoning code.

Not resting on their laurels, the resident activists of the 7th Street area are setting their sights on what they perceive as flaws in the City's proposed Comprehensive Plan. In an e-mail sent earlier this week, 7th Street resident Kathy Jordan cited portions of the "Comp Plan" that "increases density in some areas by 100 percent". Ms. Jordan also asserted that the overlays and Strategic Plan that were continued last Monday will be a moot point if the Comprehensive Plan is approved.

The plan calls for as many as 8 dwelling units per acre (RSF-8) in my corner of Downtown GJ.
It appears from what I can find in the online plan documents that there really isn't anything specific set aside for the 7th Street Historic Corridor, roughly from Grand Avenue to Teller Avenue. The latest Comprehensive Plan Future Use Map puts a big black and white picture over the specific zoning for the Downtown; I wonder why...

It sounds like there may be a groundswell of opposition to the city's intentions for the Downtown area as a whole, not just 7th Street. While I'm reserving judgment on this until I have the time to learn more, the solution for many of these residents may be a simple and personal one; live well enough now so that you and your heirs have the ability and resolve to control your individual properties, and their current use, for as long as possible.
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It was heartening to see a willingness on the part of two valley fire departments to sit down and talk about the future of their areas, and how they might work together to provide appropriate protection for them.

The initial dialogue between the Grand Junction Fire Department and the Clifton Fire District was described in the Sentinel's account as an "open thought process", and that "there is no timetable for reaching any decisions". Still, it's good to see the Fire and Emergency Medical Service providers for the bulk of the county's population start talking about better ways of working together.

One point in the Sentinel article required clarification. The GJFD and Clifton service area boundaries were described as meeting "in the Pear Park area", where there are reported response time issues. To be more accurate, the district boundary runs the length of 30 Road, from the Colorado River to I-70, and further north into the desert for EMS calls.

Common sense has affected how the two departments handle calls in this boundary area. For example, GJFD will respond to calls at the Grand Junction Speedway, which lies just east of the 30 Road boundary in the desert north of I-70. This is because the only road serving the track originates from the end of 29 Road, in GJFD's district.

One other suggestion regarding boundary responses would be the establishment of what is called an "automatic aid area", extending perhaps 1/4 mile on either
side of the 30 Road boundary. Calls received that fall into this area would be responded to by both departments simultaneously. I wouldn't be surprised if something like this were in the works already, but it sure would be helpful to alleviate the headache in dispatch when trying to ascertain which side of 30 Road an accident or other incident occurred on.

Here's to success in their efforts, and may they help set a positive example that other public safety agencies can follow.
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I saw some interesting things while in Denver last week. I attended a gathering sponsored by the ACLU of Colorado regarding the protection of murals as free speech and works of art.
This discussion stemmed from the City of Englewood's attempts to prosecute the owner of a smoking accessories shop and a used car lot for painting murals on their respective buildings in alleged violation of the City's sign ordinance.

The presenter also stated that the headshop owner had the mural (see photo) painted on his building in response to the building being repeatedly tagged with graffiti, and Englewood's refusal to assist with removal. Maybe someone should tell Englewood officials about the excellent resource-sharing efforts of Grand Junction and Mesa County to remove graffiti at the request of property owners.

This gathering was held at The Other Side Arts, a Denver gallery and support center for local artists that was also in the news last year, after Denver Police arbitrarily painted over a graffiti art mural on the side of their building in advance of the Democratic National Convention. The City of Denver is now paying for the replacement of that mural.

On the media front, the Huffington Post has introduced a page devoted solely to Denver and Colorado news. They have signed up numerous publications across the state as partners in this effort (this includes the GJ Free Press), and GJ blogger and curmudgeon Ralph D'Andrea wrote a column that was featured prominently alongside stories about water. It looks really good so far.

Also, I've thoroughly enjoyed the redesigned Westword, Denver's alternative weekly paper. It looks more like a slickly-produced magazine now, with excellent graphics and writing on significant local issues. An example of both is this past week's cover story on the surgical tech who infected dozens with Hepatitis C while employed at Rose Medical Center in Denver.

I've also found a small, Denver-based restaurant chain that has me wandering by at least every other day for something healthy. Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill boasts four locations in south and west Metro Denver, and serves an excellent falafel plate with hummus, lettuce, tomato, chicken or beef if you want, and warm, fresh-baked pita for a reasonable price.

I hope they succeed enough to consider a jump over the mountains to Grand Junction, like Smashburger was able to do. This kind of quick, healthy dining out is something that GJ could really use.
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At my mother's urging, I rented an older movie this weekend, 1997's The Rainmaker starring Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Mickey Rourke, and Claire Danes, written (from John Grasham's novel) and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The story includes some topics that are still highly controversial today, and that put forth a reminder about what's left in the balance when profit is the only consideration. DeVito's character put it best; "There's no feeling in the world like putting it to an insurance company" (or something like that).

I was also saddened by the death of Patrick Swayze, who broke the tough-guy mold as an actor when it suited him, and produced some excellent work in the process. While Ghost is the most recognized example of this, City of Joy and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar stand out to me as well.

I think I'll spend the rest of the evening trying to figure out how Jay Cutler and "Da Bears" beat the Steelers today. I hear it had something to do with missed field goals, but that's not enough. I was hoping that Cutler would have been humbled today, but I guess you can't win 'em all.

Back to the books tomorrow. Have a great week ahead.

2 comments:

Rad Winters, Alanologist said...

"Headshop"? You're showin' your age, John... ;)

The little old mom who lived in a shoe said...

Two words.... Dirty Dancing! Otherwise, great post, as usual! :)