Coverage injustice to businesses
The article that appeared in the May 30-June 5, 2013, edition titled “Businesses give perspectives on Streetscape” and your Publisher’s Opinion piece on the subject (same edition) are an injustice to the 12 Ridgway business owners who met on May 23 in a desperate attempt to get the Streetscape committee to stop ignoring the concerns of most in the business community as expressed over the previous six months. This kind of reporting is a disservice to the community you serve.
Both pieces falsely portray this “group of 12” as some sinister, “organized” movement with “divisive” intentions—while completely failing to mention the six material points that were delivered on their behalf at the committee’s May 24 meeting. In actuality, this “group of 12” operate some of the most integral and successful businesses throughout Ridgway, each of whom have played a part in helping Ridgway evolve (read “change”) into the happening and desirable town it is today in which to visit, live, work and play. You then characterize a second perspective “formed from a survey of concerned businesses by committee co-chairs Paula James and Jill Markey” as somehow “different”—a survey that, buried down further in the article, we learn was “informal.” Yet it’s reported on most favorably.
Outraged as your newspaper seems to be about the private meeting of the “group of 12,” you don’t think it’s worth reporting on who was left out of the committee’s “informal” survey and why. Or, on the committee’s failure to cut one dime from the project’s estimated $3.5 million cost after six months of supposedly trying. Interesting...
A case in point regarding the need for the “group of 12” to gather in frustration on May 23 is a letter from this writer to both the committee and town council dated Dec. 7.
Responding to the meetings hosted by the committee on Dec. 3 at Town Hall to hear the opinions of affected businesses and commercial property owners, it noted most in attendance were supportive of capital improvements of some sort in Ridgway’s historic core (one purpose of the 2005 ballot issue adding 0.6 percent to the sales tax) but had serious reservations about spending another $3.5 million in this economy on such a concentrated area of town. Importantly, it observed that the elephant in the room was the committee’s plan to have the relatively few property owners fronting on the improvements receive nearly all the financial benefit (through increased sales, rents and property values) with Ridgway’s residential and other commercial property owners bearing nearly all the cost—something any tax assessor will tell you is extremely unfair. (Talk about divisive!) The letter also suggested a fair and reasonable financing method that would surely pass in a vote, yet it’s not been graced with any apparent consideration by the committee or town council. I invite you to obtain a copy and publish it before the committee’s June 21 meeting which hopefully will be well attended by an informed community.