GMF Trail Wars Turning Ugly; Time to Take A Hike

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Question of the week:

Which of these possibilities has a better chance of occurring?  A. Finding a coronavirus vaccine that works in the next six months and cures this monstrous pandemic. Getting Crosby, Stills and Nash to put their personal differences aside and do a final reunion show for the sake of great 1960s memories and cherished harmonies. C. Securing a trails and hiking peace in the town of Green Mountain Falls.

Special hint, don’t bet on C.

For the third consecutive meeting, the Green Mountain Falls Trustees engaged in a bizarre dispute over trails and committee procedures that is leaving many locals and business operators shaking their heads in disgust. What is going on in our quaint little village that recently was lucky to have weekly meetings extend beyond the 25-minute mark?  These meetings were so short that town leaders opted for limiting these gatherings to once a month. Forget that idea now.

Have GMF town leaders and officials been watching too many videos from the disastrous proceedings up the hill in Woodland Park, where they get into hour-long fights on which alternate to designate for an advisory committee.

TMJ’s advice to everyone involved: Take a hike, mellow out and yes, give peace a chance.  This is getting quite ugly folks and why?

The trustees by an unanimous vote last week, with one member abstaining,  benched one of the town’s head trail leaders and planning commission members, Rocco Blasi, for a bevy of allegations, including not following proper procedures, breaking open meeting laws, doing trail/safety improvements without authorization and other reported violations.

However, supporters of Blasi deny these claims and see this action as an outright attack against devoted volunteers. Some question if town leaders are trying to turn GMF into an urban bureaucratic nightmare with extra rules and killing the one committee that performed hours of work and sported a lengthy list of accomplishments. They say the real problem rests with the town manager and trustees, and accuse them of a lack of communication and transparency.

The feud isn’t lacking in finger pointing, with one huge question?  What will happen to the future of trail activity in Green Mountain Falls? Are the majority elected leaders still intent on shutting down access to these local hiking routes?

And in the wake of last week’s wild meeting, talk of a recall of at last two elected leaders is circulating. Social  media is going nuts.  Crazy times for Green Mountain Falls.

In our analysis, the town needs to get back to the  basics and get everyone in an open forum without Zoom.  Otherwise, GMF politics, personalities and favoritism is going to rule the day.

Although we don’t like to play the role as a Monday morning political quarterback, we will give this one a try.

For town leaders, why the need for all these new committee rules and turning GMF into a big city-like environment. We aren’t a suburb of Denver and don’t need this much micro-managing of local committees, especially ones that perform hours of work.  How many hours were devoted into the several page accusation letter against Rocco Blasi? Instead, couldn’t that time have been spent on embarking on grants or other worthwhile endeavors.

For members of the old trails committee, forget the continual bashes against the town manager and mayor, and remember times have changed.  Accountability, communication and transparency works on both sides,  including from members of a well-established committees. And yes, don’t turn certain emails into hate letters.

A Need for New Blood

Sometimes a little new blood in these occasions is helpful

With all the public speakers and comments made at last week’s brutal forum, probably the most insightful suggestions came from Trustee Dyani Loo, the newest member on the board; and Chris Quinn, who hasn’t participated in that many meetings in recent months. In a compromise move, Loo opted to appoint two members of the old trails committee onto the new Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee. These included Blasi, with certain stringent conditions regarding his future role, and former trail committee chairman and former mayor Dick Bratton. She lauded the institutional knowledge they could bring to the table. But this compromise move was rejected  unfortunately, and the majority leaders apparently are too worried about conflicting personalities. Sounds like a rock band or another Crosby Stills and Nash fight. These old rockers are still looking for their Wooden Ship escape from reality. We don’t think they will find it.

And Quinn summed it up best; Yes, some rules and procedures probably weren’t followed, but does this justify firing a devoted volunteer. Why all the bad blood?

In the coronavirus era, we can use all the help we can muster and don’t need another Woodland Park-like furor. No, let’s not try to mimic the politics of our friends up the hill who have serious problems with public meeting management.

On the upside, the idea of a trails’ ambassador program, and enlisting the help of Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition in the Springs was a good move by the current town administration. Bringing on some needed professionalism will definitely help for a town that loves its trails.

That could be one sure path towards crafting a truce in GMF. At least, it’s a start.