Study It

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Welcome to Consultant Study-Gate

Consultants love Woodland Park and Teller County, and are one of the few growing elements of the contractor workforce who are raking in the dough with little scrutiny.

After all, the work they produce generate more studies from experts and government bureaucrats that result in no action, and then spark more studies from more experts and thousands of dollars of additional expenses. Of course, us lay people can’t make any decisions for ourselves because we aren’t experts and have no semblance of common sense.

What is wrong with this picture?

Right now, Teller leaders are mulling over plans for another comprehensive housing study, a broadband, Internet and communication gaps study, a transportation study in Cripple Creek, and of course, a traffic circulation study in Woodland Park, a follow-up byproduct of the famous “Lost Skier Bypass Study” of the 1990s.

Can we please add a few more to the list? I’m sure I am missing at least four other studies, including all the various Main Street studies for Woodland Park and Victor.

I recently started slicing a few golf shots at Shining Mountain Golf Club. That calls for a consultant study of at least $100,000. That must be an environmental or cosmic reason for the wayward leaking of my golf shots through global warming, technological developments, wetlands’ changes, earth rotations and wildlife migrations.

I plan to get down to the bottom of this mystery, and then give the bill to the city.

There are way too many bikers and dogs in our neighborhood in Green Mountain Falls. My God, that calls for a new consultant study and a tabulation of all pets in the lower Ute Pass. And of course, we must have an accurate count of all cyclists, current trail routes, ongoing traffic tabulations and pathways for walkers and bikers. That calls for a $200,000 consultant study, which will then led to another $100,000 implementation study.

In all seriousness, what is going on with Study-Gate is that our rural abode has amassed consultant bills in the neighborhood of $15 million over the last decade. And the one question our government officials refuse to answer is: What has been achieved with all these grand studies?

The new proposed comprehensive housing study is going to be a real soul-searcher and winner. We will reach the amazing conclusion that yes, and beat the drums here; we have a problem with workforce housing and a have a big shortage in rentals in Woodland Park and Teller County. We don’t know that now. This upcoming study has already raised a number of questions at a recent WP Council meeting, such as: What happened to the conclusions of a previous study done 10 years ago? Why wasn’t anything done to implement those findings, which indicated that, yes; we have a problem with affordable housing.

Nothing will happen with affordable housing until the current status quo mentality is changed that favors a land of big homes and lots and doesn’t frown on smaller, denser units. Our elected leaders like to talk a big game regarding affordable housing, but I question whether the political will is really there.

Instead of doing a study, shouldn’t the money be invested into a solid effort to bring about a real affordable housing development? Of course not, that takes too much common sense. Or, take a more pro-active approach and lower fees for developers of these particular projects.

The one common sense solution would be to propose a ballot issue that offers real incentives for those doing actual affordable housing ventures. Hopefully, that will be on the list of the new city charter ballot amendments.

Then, what about all these transportation and traffic studies?

The city years ago authorized a study by some guy who bragged about his skiing bravado on national television and then stiffed emergency service people thousands of dollars, after him and his ski goons got lost during a venture that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. But the city in its infinite wisdom at the time hired this so-called transportation expert to help them in their troubled and confused ways of developing a possible bypass route around Woodland Park. Yes, this troubled way consisted of forming a local committee and seeking to vote on actual proposed bypass routes, even if it hurt a few feelings. Instead, Mr. Lost Skier and company came up with a “Let’s Just Love Each Other in the Mountains” approach.

The Lost Skier study led to a fake bypass route that had no chance of becoming a reality and was soon forgotten.

The latest traffic circulation study is estimated at costing $80,000. Luckily, the city doesn’t have to pay much of the bill, with the feds picking up a good chunk of the expenses. .

But again, why are consultants being brought into the traffic circulation picture? First suggestion: Please, please get rid of this horrific “traffic circulation” name.

Can’t we figure out where traffic problem areas occur and figure out possible adjustments with CDOT? If Breckenridge is sort of the model, then go for it and come up with an alternative side route off the main drag, similar to what they do to handle ski traffic in Breckenridge. This newest study isn’t even going to get into actual projects, so we are talking about at least two more studies to develop a solution. So, the final bill will probably linger in the $200,000 neighborhood.

Some studies and surveys are helpful. A survey on a possible aquatic center several years ago actually did pave the way for a successful vote last November. And I can see the sense in doing a study for Internet and communications gaps, with the pending state legislation and dollars.

But our fine elected leaders need to realize that many dumb lay people like yours truly, and many other residents, are growing weary of Study-gate, and want to see results.

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The final design plans for the new aquatic center are quite impressive, and the sooner it gets done the better, mainly due to inflation.

The costs for these types of projects are soaring at a rather scary rate. Back in 2007 and 2008, when the city toyed with the idea of doing a full-scale YMCA recreation center, residents could have reaped the benefits of a 40,000 square-foot facility with a building under $10 million and a renovated city hall. Now, all this price tag will result in is a few swimming pools and aqua-related amenities. Forget any signature additions, like a racquetball court.

I still say, with that kind of money, the city is crazy just to build a basic aqua center and should look for the best bang for these types of bucks. But with the toll of inflation, the city can’t afford any more delays.

Just think, if the city had actually done a pool in the mid-1990s, like they had once proposed, the price would have been probably half or one-third of what is being mulled now. The swimming pool construction industry is apparently a booming field.