Rural GV residents speak against changing rules for gravel roads

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER

On November 7, when Greenwood Village City Council Members Dave Bullock and Paul Wiesner first proposed a resolution to the rest of the city council that would change the criteria for paving a gravel road from requiring that “100% of the landowners adjacent to the road” sign a petition requesting that it be paved, to 68% of the landowners, Bullock said he thought that “80% of the people in the rural area want the roads paved because it’s a real mess in the wintertime.” 

At that meeting, GV Parks, Trails and Recreation Director Suzanne Moore noted that, “The roads in some (of the rural) area were identified as being (equestrian) trails because, in some locations, there is no other way (for horses) to get to elements like The High Line Canal.” However, both she and Wiesner also said that horses could walk on paved roads, as did Bullock, who commented, “If you’re walking a horse on pavement, it’s no problem.”

Bullock explained to his fellow council members, that, “Over time, people have moved to the area who like the pastoral feel, they like the large lots, they like the open area, but they don’t have horses. So, we’ve had a lot of people who have said, we’d like to get those roads paved.”

He continued, “In Cherry Hills Village, they have neighborhoods that are very similar to ours. They have horses and barns and things like that, and virtually every one of their horse streets are paved. I know people who live there and live on those roads and none of them feel like it takes away from that…pastoral feel. What it does do is it takes away the mud when it snows, and you’re driving down the road, and it’s awful.”

City Council Member Anne Ingebretsen, who is in her 15th year on the job, was prescient when she cautioned that proposing a resolution before checking in with the people involved, offering, “To me, it feels like the idea is being driven by the (city) council too much…It’s got to be the residents who drive this, not the council,” adding, “I suspect the equestrian community, we haven’t heard from them on this yet, and they’re going to have a strong voice on this.”

On December 13, more than 50 people from rural GV, including four current and former district one city council members, were present at a meeting at Aspen Academy on the subject. It was led by current District One Council Member Wiesner and Mayor George Lantz. Bullock attended but did not speak, he told The Villager, because he didn’t feel that it would be appropriate to do so, since he would be directly impacted by whatever decision is made. Bullock lives on a paved cul-de-sac at the end of a gravel road.

Only one couple, out of the 20-plus people who spoke, said they supported the proposed resolution. Everyone else who spoke was against it or seemed to be leaning in that direction.

One resident wanted to know, “Where did this idea come from? Why are we even talking about it? The city just spent millions of dollars regrading the gravel roads.”

When Wiesner explained that a survey would be sent out soon to all affected residents, since some probably weren’t present, local resident Kent Stevinson pointed out that some residents who have horses don’t live on gravel roads, but they should be included when the survey is sent. 

Multiple residents talked about the importance of gravel roads as horse trails. One person said, “Horseshoes and pavement don’t go together,” in direct contrast to what had been said at the city council meeting on November 7.

Pointing to the fact that the proposed resolution excluded the requirement that is in the current 2012 resolution that it seeks to replace, which says that landowners who request that a road be paved, “Must have agreed to dedicate any right-of-way deemed necessary for an equestrian path,” one resident asked, “What will you do to replace the trails for the equestrians?” No substantive response was offered.

Later, when another resident asked Wiesner directly, “If you pave the road, does the equestrian trail just go away?” Wiesner said yes. That answer drew an audible negative reaction from the room.

Longtime rural GV resident Len Goldstein, who served on the city’s Parks, Trails and Recreation Commission for eight years, said, of the 2012 resolution that is currently in place, “The bar was set at 100% to preserve and promote the nature of rural Greenwood Village. People are complaining about the maintenance of the roads. They were regraded two years ago and it made matters worse.” When he ended with, “It is my opinion that paving the street is a diminution of the quality of life in rural Greenwood Village,” many in the room applauded. 

Several people, including Martha Potter Goldstein, asked rhetorically, why anyone would buy a home in that small area of GV if they didn’t want to live on a dirt road, because, as another person observed, “It’s a tiny pocket of the city.”

The meeting ended with a commitment from Wiesner to have the city send out a survey on the subject of whether to change the rules for paving gravel roads, to make sure that people who did not attend the meeting get to have their opinions counted, as well. He made it clear that it was not his wish to go against the desires of the residents.

fmiklin.villager@gmail.com