Guest column

Leaf bridge is costly burden on Lone Tree residents

By Kim Monson
Posted 1/18/18

If you drive east or west on Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree, you have probably watched the construction of the leaf pedestrian bridge with curiosity. While there are varying opinions of the bridge, …

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Guest column

Leaf bridge is costly burden on Lone Tree residents

Posted

If you drive east or west on Lincoln Avenue in Lone Tree, you have probably watched the construction of the leaf pedestrian bridge with curiosity. While there are varying opinions of the bridge, “iconic” or “eyesore,” it’s important to understand the cost, fairness and practicality to every hard-working individual who lives in Lone Tree and northern Douglas County.

We hear a lot about collaboration these days. When we work together for a common goal that provides for the general welfare of all citizens, it’s a good thing. However, when politicians and bureaucrats collaborate together to push forward costly, unfair and impractical projects, it’s important to shed some light on the issue.

The cost of this particular walkway is about $7 million. Politicians and bureaucrats sold this to the public by implying that other people would pay for the bridge and it is human nature to support projects if we think someone else is paying for it. Politicians and bureaucrats understand this. Here’s how the contributions worked:

• City of Lone Tree, $3.5 million (population 13,375) $261.68 per resident

• Park Meadows Metropolitan District, $1 million (population 9,325) $107.24 per resident

• South Suburban Parks and Recreation, $1 million (population 155,000) $6.45 per resident

• Douglas County, $1 million (population 328,632) $3.04 per resident

• RidgeGate, $500,000 (paid by developer)

Residents living in vintage/original Lone Tree are paying the lion’s share of the cost of this bridge. It works out to $378.11 per resident or $1,513.64 for a family of four. Unfair and spendy!

The narrative in support of this bridge is that it will improve safety and traffic flow on Lincoln by reducing the number of pedestrians using the crosswalk/pedestrian buttons at Park Meadows Drive or Yosemite. Most of the community members that I talk with have said it is impractical that they will walk or bike a half-mile out of their way to use the pedestrian bridge instead of the crosswalks. Just a note, there was no utilization study nor pedestrian usage count conducted before the approval of this $7 million expenditure. And only one architect was asked to bid on the project. The mayor and council never requested competitive proposals.

I served for four years on Lone Tree City Council and voted no on the construction and financing of the proposed pedestrian bridge because of the high cost and limited practicality. Unfortunately, citizens cannot access the conversations of these Lone Tree City Council meetings because meetings were/are not audio or video broadcast nor archived. The limited records available to the public are written minutes that only include records of votes, not any discussion. Not very transparent! I presented motions on two different occasions to change this procedure, however the motions died with no second from either the other council members nor the mayor.

Lone Tree has been blessed with significant financial resources. When the coffers are full, everyday busy individuals, caring for their families and businesses, do not pay much attention to the decisions of politicians and bureaucrats. We trust that they have our best interests in mind. However, to hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable, we must understand the issues and require transparency of government, fair treatment of all residents and practical financial decisions.

Kim Monson is a former member of Lone Tree City Council.

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