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Schools should answer pay questions before asking for tax increase
Editor:
In regard to Paula Noonan’s (Jeffco school board member) editorial: Taxpayers are “threatened” with increased class size every time the Jeffco School District wants more money. It sounds like Paula Noonan has many questions about compensation. Perhaps the Jeffco school board should figure out the answers before asking the taxpayer for more money. Seems more logical.
Suzanne Dewlaney
Littleton

Land-use policies put wildlife, Jefferson County citizens last
Editor:
I am new to Littleton. After spending more than a year here, I have gotten to know the location, its land-use procedures and its businesses. And it is more than obvious that those who govern and control this area care nothing about it. It couldn’t be in a more ideal location (close to downtown yet far enough away to have a suburban feel) or have a better view of the mountains. Yet this land has been abused like nothing I’ve ever seen. It is inconceivable that beautiful cities like Boulder and Golden are only a short distance from here. These cities’ leaders and organizations strive to preserve and renew within the city limits while respecting their natural elements and celebrating their history.
Yet in Littleton and Jefferson County, the Foothills Park & Recreation District continues to sell land slated for open space for commercial development. Foothills board meeting minutes document the ongoing outcry of residents who purchased their homes with open-space premiums and have been taxed each year by the county for the increased value of their properties, only to have the land turned over to a developer. Numerous and ever-growing numbers of abandoned, dilapidated and “for lease” developments around town apparently do nothing to appeal to reason.
The Denver area seems to boast of a liberal, environmentally conscious way of life. But I have never experienced such a hatred for wildlife within a city’s limits as in Littleton and Jefferson County. Colorado law grants local governments the primary authority for protecting habitats for wildlife species. Yet these local governments fail to take responsibility in creating comprehensive land plans that include habitat for wildlife, citing budget issues and lack of funding. (Note: Foothills’ budget for 2012 is more than $22 million.) To my shock and horror, Foothills repeatedly poisons prairie dogs. Fumigation is a primitive and inhumane method that can take up to 72 hours to finish the job, yet it is the cheapest option and therefore most popular. Black-tailed prairie dogs are a state listed Species of Special Concern and now occupy less than 1 percent of their historic range.
In the 1890s, the poet Kenneth Rexroth reflected on the character of local businessmen in California. “He is most often a stranger to the country in which he operates, with no interest in its well being and no care for the conservation of its resources. He is interested in the immediate exploitation of the irreplaceable commodity. The effects of that exploitation on the surrounding country and its population (are) the least of his cares.” In a March 6 article in the Columbine Courier, Planning Commission member Larry Anna responded to numerous criticisms (of actual residents) of the commercial development of an open space at Wadsworth and Coal Mine. “Even though I don’t live there, I’d rather see this property developed into something more useful, rather than an area for prairie dogs.”
For those in Littleton who want to preserve natural spaces and protect native wildlife, what can be done other than contact these organizations and hold them accountable for their actions? All of which I and others have done, but these requests fall on deaf ears. Ronald Hopp, executive director of Foothills, claims that the land, which is often occupied by prairie dogs, should be used for a higher purpose. However, Hopp’s higher purpose creates a vicious cycle. Open spaces continue to disappear to make up for budget cuts caused by falling property assessments and decreased tax revenue. But the question remains: With careless land use and fleeing businesses, who would want to continue living here when the needs and ideals of taxpaying citizens and native wildlife come last?
Chris McConnell
Littleton