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Dear Editor:

Wow, finally! The former mayor, Jim LiVecchi, wants rentals for Salida’s citizens. Just 30 months ago, Jim and his reigning city council majority sabotaged Fred Lowry’s offer to install utilities across U.S. Highway 50 that would have cleared the hurdle for a private-public partnership with Belmont and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority. Repulsed by council’s actions, both businesses withdrew their offers. Were it not for that, those 30-40 rental apartments on Vandaveer might be open for business today.

During the next 18 months, our mayor orchestrated what I like to call “the TABOR Diversion,” wasting months of council members’ and staff time and huge quantities of Salida citizens’ dollars on legal fees. Salida Natural Resources Development Corp. board members became “the whipping post” for much drama created by the former mayor, mayor pro-tem and city attorney.

Fortunately, during 2018 the NRCDC board has worked carefully, selling portions of the Vandeveer property, paying off the debt and currently completing complicated legal transactions to return approximately 100 acres to Salida’s citizens.

During Wednesday’s debate, Jim LiVecchi stated that his and Hal Brown’s reason for collecting signatures opposing the decisions made by the current council was to allow the citizens to make decisions related to the construction of Salida Crossings. When asked about footing the bill for the election and the related increased costs due to construction delays, he blamed our seated city council.

Perhaps a political science lesson is needed. Salidans elect officials to make decisions on behalf of themselves, the citizens. That is their job. Salida’s housing crisis is multi-dimensional, best described as a huge puzzle of many parts. Each completed puzzle piece contributes to assuring that more service employees are able to live within our city limits.

Rentals, one piece of that puzzle, need private-public partnerships to be built at a cost that will assure affordable monthly fees. Salida Crossings, another piece of that puzzle, will create housing for teachers, firefighters, police officers, city employees, etc., who want to live and own homes within the city limits.

Duane Cozart’s efforts to assure no shadows and include setbacks avoiding view barriers is exemplary. Salida Crossings’ proposed height of 44 feet, 6 inches is not a violation of Salida’s city codes. FYI, in the late 1800s, the St. Clair (First and D streets, approximately 55 feet) and Palace Hotel (North F Street, 48 feet, 8 inches; including sign, 53 feet, 2 inches) were built without spawning other tall buildings.

Misrepresentations by publishing distorted sketches of the proposed Salida Crossings’ buildings is deceitful and mean-spirited. Using fear tactics with words like “will become a vacant towering ghetto” or “will look like Denver” encourage prejudice.

Please vote. This referendum impacts all Salidans. Make your voting decisions carefully with facts, not fear-laden pressure. My decision to vote yes is based on the fact that Salida Crossings will provide opportunities for our citizens, who work so hard for us, to live in Salida, purchasing their first homes. That is what I did as a young teacher, making it possible to slowly move up the economic ladder and now live in a comfortable retirement home in Salida.

Eileen J. Rogers
Housing Policy Advisory Committee member since its inception
Chaffee Housing Trust Board Member