To the Editor:
The following comments are related to Bruce Warren’s Editorial in the May 1st Courier entitled: ‘Broken Trust in Niwot.’ However, first of all we would like to say…Welcome back, Biff. We hope you continue to heal and regain your strength. There are a few misconceptions in his article that need clarification.
Biff states: “In 1996, the county prepared an alley study, which concluded that commercial property owners on 2nd Avenue should have very limited access to the alley,while 3rd Avenue residents were allowed full use of the alley.” Nowhere in the alley study is it stated or even implied that “3rd Avenue residents were allowed full use of the alley,” to the exclusion of commercial property owners (but back to that later.) The study does say: “Where physically possible, Second Avenue or another primary road should be used to access a property instead of the alley. The roads are better designed to handle traffic flow and are maintained by Boulder County.”
Biff’s statement that “Third Avenue residents were allowed full use of the alley” creates a commonly held assumption that isn’t true. This makes it seem that Third Avenue residents have been zipping up and down the alley in their cars for decades. The truth is actually the opposite. Third Avenue residents do not use the alley to access their garages, which are accessed from Third Avenue. There are two homes with garages on the alley and neither one is actively used. Third Avenue residents use the alley primarily as a pedestrian bypass to shortcut either downtown or to Cottonwood Square. We do not derive any direct benefit from improving the alley to accommodate either one-way or two-way traffic. Instead, increased alley traffic degrades our privacy and quality of life. Although the County Attorney issued an opinion in 1997 stating that the alley was a public right-of-way and all adjacent property owners were entitled to use it, Boulder County still has the authority to review and regulate access for visual impacts as well as traffic impacts, since the alley is County owned. It also seems logical that the more intensive the proposed use, the more stringent the transportation standards will be. However, we lost the alley argument. This was part of the compromise.
Later in the Editorial Biff states: “No longer did (Land Use) need the approval of the Niwot commercial property owners as it did in 2012. The resulting acrimony between the business community and the 3rd Avenue residents will not soon go away.” It is our personal view (and choice) that we need to move beyond that poisonous stance. Acrimony, finger-pointing, and blame saps our precious life energy and it is certainly not useful going forward. The divisive moratorium is behind us now, and nobody got everything they wanted. There are still unresolved questions and issues with Boulder County that will require working together and listening to one another. We hope to see citizens proceed in a constructive, respectful, inclusive manner.
Victoria Keen, Mike Selak and Roscoe The Wonder Dog
285 3rd Ave.