There is a confluence of issues that city council needs to address. The first is the city’s neighborhood notification policy. The second is the trail around Union Reservoir. And the third is the train wreck of oil and gas drilling and fracking coming into Longmont and specifically at Union Reservoir.
Residents on the northern shore of the reservoir by County Road 28 insisted that they did not receive notification. Believe them. While they may have, in fact, received some sort of communication from the city, it was clearly inadequate to define the scope of the issue.
This isn’t the first time that the city has inadequately notified neighborhoods. And unless the policy is changed, it will not be the last.
The issue of drilling for oil and gas at Union Reservoir was on staff’s table as early as June of 2011. Ex-mayor Baum recently said in a radio broadcast that “drilling was nothing new,” that “it had been in the works for a year and a half.”
Really! But the public was not made aware of this until October. And the plan was to ram the issue through for a hearing by the Planning and Zoning Commission on November 18th. The P&Z was intended to be the final word on the matter.
Had citizens not been alert, those living outside the immediate Union Reservoir area would not have been present at the “neighborhood meeting” to learn that drilling was intended to be imminent. Most of the residents in the area did not grasp the city’s intentions and had to be separately notified of the threat.
While the Union Reservoir Master Plan was modified and vetted, it is essential to note that this vetting was without any knowledge whatsoever by the public that the area was going to be invaded by the oil and gas industry.
Union Reservoir is unique. Drilling has no business anywhere near it. And it should be stopped by any and all measures available.
Council needs to direct staff to revise the notification process so that full implications are apparent. The notifications need to go beyond small neighborhood geographical areas when the impact is broad and/or citywide. And the council should table the $750,000 expense of the trail until there is a full understanding of the impact of drilling at Union Reservoir.
The last recommendation I make with reluctance as I am strongly supportive of such a trail. However, the impact on wildlife, whether from the trail or from drilling, needs careful assessment before, not after, the financial cost is incurred.