2009

11 November 2009: What’s Idaho Springs got that Georgetown doesn’t?

What’s Idaho Springs got that Georgetown doesn’t?

“OK, Br’er Rabbit, we mentioned the Code Enforcement Task Force, wind farm and economic development ideas as some of the good in Georgetown,” said Joe Soccer Dad.

“Let’s recognize also the volunteers who put together the Slacker Run, Christmas Market and such, and take time to plant flowers and decorate.”

“And the employees who have been doing top-notch jobs like clearing the roads,” added Suzy Six Pack. “And whenever I have a question, the Town Hall staff has always been most helpful and pleasant.”

“So what do you consider the bad and ugly?” asked Joe.

“It gets down to two fundamental aspects. First, unlike Idaho Springs, Georgetown is one-dimensional. Thinking outside the box is taboo if it runs counter to what is deemed authentic Georgetown. In the end, that was former Mayor Kolleen Brooks’ undoing.

“The second deals with priorities and who runs the show. The farther north from the historical district, the lesser in importance and priority are the people and issues.”

“I know what you mean,” said Joe. “I sensed a feeling of disconnect from the rest of the town at the Ward 3 community meeting. I suspect few would have attended if the meeting weren’t local and specific to them.”

“And the comments were telling,” said Suzy. “One woman began her statement with, ‘I don’t mean to offend anyone’ and went on to state, ‘but it seems to me we should be making history,’ to which another guy added, ‘Yeah, not worshipping it!”

“It seems to me,” Joe thought, “the town and historical society are moving beyond joined at the hip. They’re becoming one and the same.”

“I think you’re on to something,” I said. “I attended a meeting of the HDLPC in September to hear what the county’s Planning Department head was reporting about the wind farm and to hear what the members were offering in terms of input.”

“HDLPC? Never heard of it,” Joe queried.

“Historic District Land Preservation Committee — apparently a planning forum for public lands in the county’s west end. But it’s almost secretive in the sense you never hear what they’re talking about or the decisions that can have major impact on both public and private lands.”

“Now that you mention it, I have heard about it.” said Suzy. “Something about some land up on Guanella Pass, but I can’t recall exactly. I know I have had a heck of a time trying to get information about it.”

“The thing that struck me,” I said, “was of the eight or so representatives, four were usual familiar faces from Georgetown, including both Ward 1 Selectman, Matt Skeen, who doubles as town mayor pro tem and triples as HDLPC chair, and Lee Behrens. And to top that, both serve as officers in Historical Georgetown Inc., Skeen as treasurer and Behrens as secretary.”

“In baseball-speak, you could say Lee hits a triple and Matt knocks it out of the park each time they swing,” wisecracked Suzy.

“Hmm,” smiled Joe. “I smell something that ain’t purdy. You have to wonder where their loyalties ultimately lie because the best interests of the town, HGI, and HDLPC cannot always be the same.”

“Well, from what I gather, Skeen is a good person,” I replied. “I just think his values are skewed when it comes to the town. What I recall from the candidates’ night forum last April is that he is all about keeping the town some charming little place, to me like a fairy tale with warm gingerbread buildings nestled in a mountain valley.”

“But what about economic development so businesses can grow and, gasp, thrive?” thumped Suzy. “The place is a frigging morgue, especially compared to Idaho Springs.”

“I often wonder,” mused Joe, “why their sidewalks are always busy and ours empty. Someone has to pay the bills. Word has it consideration is being given to raising the sales tax. The problem is that would only serve to drive more guests from the town.”

“You know what makes sense?” asked Suzy. “If the mission is to keep Georgetown a cute little hamlet, any tax increase should be on private property in the historical district.”

“Ooo! Be careful! That could get you Kolleened right out of town. There are some very willing to play hardball and they have their methods,” I quipped.

“You know, though,” she said after busting her gut, “when you think of it, Idaho Springs is a good measure. It has a very active historical society. My gawd, look at all the promo they have done for the 150th anniversary of the gold strike.

“Yet, they seem able to blend the modern like Carl’s Jr., Kum & Go and McDonald’s with a well-kept historical district. And now, an enterprising couple has arranged for Greyhound to stop there! Why is Georgetown so averse to that?”

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “Like I said, I’m just a writer who sees life through metaphors, which, admittedly, often do not offer solutions. I suppose that’s the reason I don’t write about Georgetown.”

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