Main Street goes green

From the Longmont Ledger:

January 22, 2010 by Ellen Mahoney
Filed under Business

With much of the world focused on climate change, global warming and rising sea levels, Longmont’s Small Planet E Vehicles may be in the right business at the right time, offering alternative, cleaner and greener modes of transportation via electric cars, trucks, bikes, and scooters.

Like many people concerned about diminishing oil resources and an increasingly polluted planet, owner Tom Wilson works to find solutions to protect the changing environment.

“Fossil fuels are not only bad to use; we’re running out of them,” he says. “We’ve already used more than half of the oil that’s available and we’re on the down slope.”

Although the electric car was nearly crushed into oblivion, plug-in vehicles are making a new and sustainable comeback. Propelled by electric motors powered by rechargeable, recyclable, sealed lead acid or lithium ion batteries, the vehicles provide a cost-effective propulsion system with zero carbon-producing tailpipe emissions.

Read the rest at the Longmont Ledger

Why I am Opposed to the Heaven fest Music Festival at Union Reservoir

I’m a resident who appreciates Longmont’s small town, quiet atmosphere. I don’t relish my town becoming the site of an annual, multi-day, large scale rock concert, with all the noise, congestion, environmental degradation, traffic jams and inconvenience that it would entail.

I don’t think this event should be a “done deal”, in spite of the gushing enthusiasm expressed for it on the part of one of the local newspapers, some local business groups,  and many of the conservative members of the City Council.   I’m worried that the City hasn’t even asked the threshold question about such an event: do Longmont citizens really want our town – and sensitive public lands – being taken over by 50,000 people for a huge, loud, multi-day event?  This isn’t being touted as a one time event.  The promoters openly say they are looking for a permanent home, to have the event come back year after year, hopefully gaining in size each year.  On their website, the Heaven Fest promoters say that the event has basically doubled in attendance each year.  So what does that mean: next year’s attendance will be 100,000 concert goers?  Our town is only approximately 88,000 people-strong.  We’ll be swamped by such huge numbers of people.  I say the initial 50,000 applied for is too much.  I’d prefer to stop it before it starts, before it becomes entrenched.  Personally, I wouldn’t be happy to see other huge events come here either – such as the Kinetics Conveyance Race which apparently is no longer welcome in Boulder.  In my opinion such huge events belong in stadiums, not small town scenic reservoirs.

The Heaven Fest promoters have been talking to City staff for several months about using the Union Reservoir as their concert venue, even though the Reservoir is a sensitive wildlife area.  It doesn’t appear that City staff as of yet have raised a peep of an objection to the Reservoir usage.  The Reservoir is a wetlands area that provides foraging, nesting, migration or general habitat usage for bald eagles, great blue herons, ducks, geese, pelicans, pheasants, white-tailed deer, raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, coyote, fox, raccoons, etc.  In spite of this sensitive ecosystem, the Heaven Fest promoters want to use this or adjoining open space land for campers, RVs, massive parking, 7 stages, multiple events, and numerous vendors.   And they want this ecosystem to be subjected to a deluge of 50,000 people in a two day period, with build-up and tear-down for the event expected to last an additional ten days.  Our Reservoir was never intended to be subjected to such an onslaught.

It doesn’t appear that the City is taking its own permit ordinances into account, in its haste to get its hands on hoped for – but unsubstantiated – claims of revenues.  The Longmont Municipal Code sets very high standards before a public use permit involving the public lands can be issued.  Chapter 13.37 says that the City Clerk shall not issue a special use permit if any of a variety of problematic conditions would be found to occur.  These supposedly deal-breaking conditions include a finding that the event would unreasonably obstruct public access; or would generate unreasonable noise; or would bring a crowd so large as to threaten the public peace; or would be likely to result in excessive damage to the property in light of that property’s prior usage or current condition; or would conflict with the scheduled use of the property.

In my opinion, a fair analysis of Heaven Fest’s request for a two day loud noise permit, to accommodate 50,000 concert goers, parking for 15,000 vehicles, the use of 7 stages, several nights of mass overnight camping, plus an extended ten day preparation/dismantling process, would show that all of the above conditions would be violated at the Reservoir.  If reasonably obeyed, our City Code would not tolerate the issuance of a permit for this event.

I support the spirit and intent of the City Code, and say: “Keep Union Reservoir Wild.”  Just say no to huge events like the proposed Heaven Fest concert.

Comments to Council 1-5-10

We’ve hearing in the newspaper about the proposed Heaven Fest Christian music concert which – if a City permit will be granted – will be held at the City’s Union Reservoir this July.  Unfortunately, we’ve only been given the rose-colored, glowing “good” side of the story.   As a citizen of Longmont, I am concerned about the potential negative consequences of permitting this event to go forward – or others like it – without a fair and adequate analysis being done of the actual costs and benefits to the City.

Think of it -Heaven Fest is promoting on its website that it will have room this year for more than 50,000 concert goers.  A concert of this magnitude – 50,000 concert goers – would attract to our small city for a multi-day event, a clientele whose population would almost double the population of our City.  This is no small matter – it is huge.  I am very concerned that our City is rushing into this permitting process, without having given enough thought to the potential negative consequences.

For instance, has anybody in the City contacted the City of Boulder and found out why the Kinetics Races, which had been held in Boulder and had attracted huge crowds similar to those expected by Heaven Fest – was no longer happening in Boulder?   Has anybody found out what the actual costs of the Kinetics Races were to the City of Boulder, such as the police, cleanup, or power-related expenses, as well as finding out what the quality-of-life and environmental impacts had been?  Similarly, has anybody from the City of Longmont gotten an opinion from the Division of Wildlife or other bona fide wildlife expert, concerning what the possible negative effects on wildlife and plant life might be, of placing such a huge amount of people into the environmentally-sensitive Reservoir?

These are serious questions – and I don’t think they have been adequately analyzed yet.  Even larger questions than these, I believe are not being addressed.   These are: do the citizens of our small town really want to be deluged by crowds as large as those expected at Heaven Fest, and do they really want our recreation areas to be turned over to huge commercial ventures?  I, personally, have serious reservations about these kind of ventures being held on our public lands, and I imagine others do to.  Yet such concerns are not even being mentioned, much less being addressed.

So I urge Council and the City to slow down the freight train here, and give much more adequate consideration to whether the huge Heaven Fest event is an appropriate event for our City.  I am not convinced that it is.

Remarks I shared at Longmont City Council on 1/12/10

Earlier today I attended the Martin Luther King celebration in these chambers. The City put together a beautiful and inspirational program. When I looked at the posters of MLK and President Obama together, I felt both hopeful and melancholy. Hopeful to think of how far we’ve come, and melancholy as I realized how far we still need to travel to end discrimination… As my friend Strider reminds me, “It’s a long march.”

While that’s not what I came to speak about, I was inspired. See, I too have a dream. My dream is to keep Union Reservoir Wild. This dream started in 2001, when the City of Longmont had a contract on 315 acres at Union for Open Space. Due to a glitch in the contract, the landowner was able to get out of this contract when Lifebridge Church doubled the offer the City had made.

I was on a organized bird walk at Union 10 days ago where we saw 7 bald eagles, 2 golden eagles, 2 norther harriers, 1 coyote, 2 foxes and a flock of about 100 horn larks. All this is 70 minutes. Union Reservoir and the wildlife it supports and surrounding land is precious and needs protection.

My ultimate dream is that Lifebridge has a change of heart and decides to sell this land back to the city to be kept wild as was the original plan.

My new short term dream is that the organizers of Heavens Fest realize the incredible jewel Union Reservoir is and rethink the location of their event. I was thinking Main Street would be far superior for the following reasons: 1) They know hoe to do large festivals–accommodating 20,000+ people. Extending a couple blocks might be necessary if there will be 35,000+ people.
2) There is regional and local RTD services to Main Street and from Main Street all over Longmont. 3) Downtown businesses would get an economic boost and lots of great exposure. Frankly, Union attenders would travel east, north, south in addition to those that might come west into Longmont. A more central location increases the likelihood of dollars staying here. 4) The Main Street location would not have a negative impact on Land & wildlife. 5) Shuttles could be arranged from the fairgrounds etc. to offset parking.

Heaven Fest maybe a good idea. It’s just not a good location.