Stupa traffic a concern

Dear County Commissioners, POA Board Members, Crestone/Baca Planning Commission, KTTG and All Community Members,

We must express our strong disapproval, deep concern and horror of having 1,200 plus cars per summer month on the proposed road connecting the residential area of Serene Way with the old mine road, (East Dream Way),  to provide access to the KTTG Stupa.

When Zoe de Bray of KTTG contacted us, one of the first questions we asked was, “Didn’t KTTG secure access to the stupa before building it?” Her reply was that KTTG has access to the stupa along the commonly known old mine road on Manitou’s conservation easement road.  Their concern is maintenance of the road to meet their needs and standards.

Glenn showed Zoe that the easement by the Water and Sanitation Board for KTTG’s road usage contained the rights for KTTG to maintain the road to safety standards.  Zoe promised the Serene Way residents attending the 12/2/12 meeting that she would review, and possibly have legal review, of the Manitou road easement  document for the same or similar text before moving any further on the road issue. We are concerned that articles in The Crestone Eagle seem to make this road an assumed done deal.

By KTTG’s count using Forest Service equipment, there were 600 cars per month in the summer visiting the stupa two years ago. That is 1,200 round trip drive-bys a month driving on a residential road. This does not include the additional cars for people going hiking, driving to walk their dogs and going to other spiritual sites along East Dream Way.  We noticed a significant drop of cars this past summer since the former access road at Tranquil Court was blocked. The natural quiet was restored.

KTTG is also proposing to cut the road through the greenbelt.  We ask the POA Board not to add precedent to disregarding the importance and sanctity of the greenbelt network.

In summary, we ask that KTTG does not impose their huge numbers of vehicle traffic on a residential area and that they continue to find an agreement with Manitou to utilize their original road access to the stupa along East Dream Way, the old mine road.

Sincerely,

Meryl and Glenn Ennis

 

Stupa road FYI

As a person who attends most of the meetings for the county commissioners, planning commission and POA, I have a great deal of concern for all of our residents. Thanks to Meryl and Glenn for their letter outlining their concerns about the discussion to change the access to the stupa. The discussion is much broader than stupa access alone, and is just that at this point–a discussion. At this point, no formal application has come to the POA nor before the planning commission. In lieu of an application, no further decisions or actions have taken place, and will not until an application is presented. All land owners in the area as well as the public will be invited to submit their concerns at that time, and both the planning commission and the POA board will take residents’ comments seriously.

Sincerely,

Matie Belle Lakish

 

Election finances

Dear Editor,

After last month’s letter in which I stated I had $1,200 in the bank to run the March 5 Dissolution Election, with money coming from donations, a grant, and $300 from BGCAN (the group leading the dissolution movement), it was brought to my attention by Diane Dunlap of BGCAN, that my statement “suggests that the $300 Bond check from BGCAN was being considered a ‘donation’. It was not. Please note that per statute below if the dissolution effort succeeds, we are to be refunded our $300 Bond. Please plan your election budget to comply with this requirement.”

I did not want to give the impression that BGCAN was helping us pay for the election which their petition initiated. The fact is, we have $900 to run an election which we project will cost $1,300, so we could use some help.

Voting in person will save the district on the cost of running the election. Please vote in person if possible on March 5, 7am to 7pm  at the Community Building, 240 North Cottonwood St. in Crestone.  If you feel moved to help us meet this obligation, please donate via a tax deductible check to Crestone Fire Protection District, P.O. Box 1254, Crestone, CO 81131.

We would like to thank The Crestone Eagle for waiving the cost of publishing the required Notice of Election in January and February, which would otherwise have cost us $310.

Eli Dokson, Treasurer

Crestone Fire Protection District  (aka Crestone Emergency Services Dist.)

 

‘Two minutes, thank you, next!’

Dear Editor/Baca membership,

This is the response you receive from the POA board chairperson, if you ask a question or make a comment at a board membership meeting, specifically if your question or comment challenges any issue that the board is promoting or protecting from membership scrutiny. Hard to believe but true, no response to questions, no chance of discussion before the board makes a decision affecting the whole membership. We have to change this situation ASAP!

The Baca Grande Property Owners Association membership and specifically those members attending board meetings deserve open and honest dialogues with the directors before decisions are made.

We deserve representation not self-serving leaders!

Equally, the directors deserve the same respect from the membership in our speech. The POA is there to serve us, the membership, not their personal agendas. We must all communicate fairly, honestly and respectfully to achieve a community we can be proud to be a part of; if we can’t do that, then let’s make NOTHING happen at all.

I am asking my neighbors to be more cautious and informed when choosing directors for the board.

Let’s elect directors who will be unbiased in their deliberations and decision-making. I advocate for no directors from the fire or ambulance department, no real estate developers, no directors with personal agendas.

Actually, it appears now that we all have our own agendas in one way or another.  Some have more money than others, some have more time than others, but we are all here together in this unusual place of beauty and quiet. I would like to ask us all to make compromises for the benefit of the whole.  We could start by just listening to each other before responding or reacting; give some space for the heart to be heard. Let’s all move to the middle, then maybe we can have some constructive dialogues.

Sincerely,

Steven Elliott

 

Preserve CrESD, vote NO on March 5

Dear Editor,

The formation of the Emergency Services District was a hard earned victory for the Crestone/Baca community. Most importantly, it was formed by the votes of the community at large, meaning a majority felt it was an important and essential community service. The district became a legal entity registered with the State of Colorado and bound to the articles prescribed by the State. Districts so formed are created for safety and life support in times of emergency. Unfortunately, this came about in a time of severe economic downturn which led to the failure of the passage of funding by an additional local tax. The failure of passage of the mill levy to support it is no reason to abandon the district and dissolve it. Times change, and though support of the District is a sensitive subject now, in the future it may not be. There is no liability to maintain the district in a lesser operational status now or in the immediate future. It would be a loss to dissolve the district at this time. To preserve the district only makes good sense.

Despite the district being in hibernation, the fire department, EMS, and search and rescue crews are doing their jobs because of their dedication and commitment to our safety, not because of our show of support. A better economic climate is ahead, and the prospects for proper support of the district in the future are a viable possibility. The right thing to do now is to vote against the dissolution of the district. This will be a walk-in election. Show up and vote NO!

Vince and Mary Palermo

 

$70 POA dues reduction & the CrESD mill levy

Dear Editor,

The Crestone Fire District mill levy question has been put to the voters twice now and both times it failed.  The last time, it only failed by two votes.  Given the absence of the POA’s vehicles and equipment and thus the total lack of the district’s ability to provide any services at all, one might ask why this vote was so close.

The answer is: because voters were misled.  In the weeks preceding the election, Matie Belle Lakish mailed letters to all of the greater Colorado POA property owner/voters promising that their dues would be reduced by $70 if they voted FOR the mill levy.  Fired ex-POA Fire Chief Kimberly Bryant also telephoned absentee voters suggesting the same thing.

Let this be clear once and for all.  There is NO relationship between any possible POA dues reduction and the passage of any mill levy.

A few years ago when the POA Transfer of Assets question was under consideration, the POA estimated the cost of maintaining emergency services to be about $70 per lot.  IF the POA membership had approved the transfer of +$1,000,000 of emergency services assets to the new district, THEN there would have been a “possibility” of reducing the dues by $70 per lot.  However, the membership did not approve this transfer, so the potential for any dues reductions died right there.

Remember, when the Baca Grande Library joined the library district, the cost was estimated at $26 per lot but the dues were only reduced by $13.  POA dues can change every year.  There‘s no guarantee any one-time reduction will be sustained.

Without the POA’s assets this district will never be viable (without enormous additional voter costs).  But if you choose to vote against dissolution on March 5, don’t expect to save any money on future POA dues.

Diane Dunlap

 

Dues & equipment & local control

Dear Editor,

It is true that there is no guarantee that a promise of “POA dues reduction” would continue from board-to-board in the future. It is also true that in 2010 the POA board approved two budgets for 2011. One budget included a $70 dues reduction if the emergency services operations were moved to the Crestone Emergency Service District and one budget in case operations were not moved.

If you want to retain local control, there is no other permanent solution to the ongoing emergency service problems other than the new District. Many people examined this issue over a number of years; the POA paid a lot of money to examine other options and none were found viable for various reasons. The only other possibly-viable option is to join the Northern Saguache Fire Protection District. While they run an outstanding service, this consolidation would remove all local control over equipment placement and budget disposition. Some of the equipment we now have for our local use could be assigned to stations in other towns.

Dissolving the district now severely limits our options for continuing your exceptional local services. The POA has many other important issues to consider and has not historically taken the time to understand the complex issues facing your emergency services. There is also no continuity of management at the POA.

With volunteerism down about 30% in the fire department, I hope you will make the effort to vote No on March 5 and let the CrESD Board continue to work on comprehensive, economical and enduring solutions. Please vote NO on dissolution so the volunteer time and money expended to come this far has not been wasted.

Kimberly Bryant,

Proud to have served as

Chief of the BGVFD

 

POA national dispatch & CrESD

Dear Editor,

On October 25, 2012 POA board members Russell Schreiber, Treat Suomi, and former President Bill Folk passed a resolution to permit the national dispatch of POA emergency services assets (something we warned was a main goal of CrESD: They wanted POA equipment to make money—not to provide more “cost-effective” emergency services for the people).

In order to sell the idea of national dispatch of our equipment, Treat, Russell, Bill and POA  fire chief Ben Brack had to contradict just about everything they had said in order to justify the CrESD.

To justify dispatching our equipment and firefighters out of state, they now claim that the need to make money off our emergency services equipment is far more important than keeping all our equipment in the Baca to serve the needs of the membership should fires break out here.  Russell mentioned that we must not be so selfish and that we should be ready to respond to the needs of those who live elsewhere.  (This despite our governing documents which state that POA members’ assets cannot be used to benefit outside third parties.)

In order to allay concerns about our equipment leaving the area, Brack emphasized how well our mutual aid agreements functioned when Crestone and Northern Saguache responded to the most recent house fire.  He said most of our guys didn’t even show up but the gap was readily filled by Crestone and Northern Saguache.  He stressed that we didn’t need all this equipment or all our firefighters, that any shortfall will always be filled by these other stations.   One member asked: “You mean we have too much equipment?”  Brack essentially said “yes”.

CrESD was too expensive, infeasible without the POA’s assets, and now it’s clear that it was superfluous as well.  Vote YES on dissolution on March 5.

Bruce McDonald

 

Fire chief response: District is a solution

Dear Editor,

Members of every emergency service on our planet operate under a simple auspice of responding to requests for help to make bad situations better. At the Baca and Crestone Fire Departments we accomplish this by focusing on “solutions” to problems rather than pointing out problems or lambasting the solutions and efforts of others. The Crestone Emergency Services District was a possible solution for challenges that continue to develop from trying to operate five different service organizations with the same pool of volunteers serving three unique sub-communities across 27 square miles. The challenges of organisational instability, legal, and financial liabilities were more than enough than to inspire an effort to see how the organizations could be improved.

As the operating chief of two of the fire departments and an active volunteer of the other services, I offer my opinion that service consolidation and organization under a Special District would be an improvement. Fortunately the choice is all of ours as a voting collective to decide what is or is not superfluous for our community.

Ben Brack

 

R.I.P. CrESD

Dear Editor,

The day is rapidly approaching when we can finally put to rest the ill-conceived Crestone Emergency Services District (aka CrESD) once and for all.

Petitioning for a fire district requires showing that there is some current actual need for the services the new district will provide.  However, we have always had well-funded, well-equipped, and well-staffed emergency services and CrESD was just a far more expensive way to administer services we already had.  This is why the voters rejected the district’s request for a mill levy twice.

Moreover, the movement to create this district did not arise out of any perceived need by the community itself, but was generated by the local fire departments as a way to have total control of the purse-strings (+$500.000/yr operating budget) and avoid any independent outside oversight.

Although CrESD came into being over a year ago, it has NEVER been able to provide any emergency services whatsoever.  Our POA emergency services, Crestone emergency services and northern Saguache emergency services have continued to provide everything we have needed as they have for over three decades now.

CrESD’s viability depended upon the transfer of the POA’s +$1,000,000 emergency services assets, a proposal the POA membership rejected.  Now CrESD supporters are talking about needing more time to look for “alternative funding”.  Translation: CrESD now needs to raise millions of dollars to buy equipment, buildings, vehicles, etc. on top of their half-million a year operating budget.

If we thought CrESD’s mill levy was too expensive and could bankrupt the Baca, then adding on millions more to duplicate the POA’s equipment is sheer folly.  It’s time to end this failed effort, vote YES on Dissolution on March 5, and move on without the looming threat of more and greater mill levy ballot questions in the future.

Sincerely,

Claudia Wolfe

 

Let’s protect ourselves & preserve the district

Dear Editor,

Residents of the Town of Crestone deserve direct access to 911 dispatch services which can reduce critical response time in cases of fire emergencies. POA members deserve financial protection from a potentially large lawsuit. In a catastrophic situation, present POA insurance would be unlikely to cover the full amount of any settlement. As a non-governmental body, no insurance policy that the POA could afford would cover all costs. Uncovered costs would then be borne by lot owners. On the other hand, for governmental organizations like the Northern Saguache County Fire District, payout amounts are limited under state law.

We can assume that we will never experience a catastrophic emergency and simply hope for the best. State and federal disaster funds are very limited and getting more so. Unlike the banks, we are not “too big to fail”. We cannot rely on a government bailout.

It is time to put emergency management activities in the hands of a regulated organization solely dedicated to public safety. This will put us in synch with emergency management services statewide. It will not prohibit us from taking care of ourselves but it will give us access to resources and protections we may need.

Vote NO, on March 5. If you can’t vote in person, you can get a mail-in ballot until the end of February at  www.crestoneemergencyservices.org/home/mail-ballot-election. Click on the “download” button, then click “open”, print the application and mail it in to request a “ballot by mail”.

Sincerely,

Tamar Ellentuck