Over the last few years, under the (mis)guidance of a prior board, Erie engaged in legal, financial and emotional warfare with numerous opponents. Under the guise of protecting the interest of Erie’s citizens, the board:
1. Supported Town Administrator Mike Acimovic to engage counsel to make land grabs from the Towns of Frederick and Broomfield. Lawsuits ensued.
2. In an effort to create his only legacy, Moore manipulated the prior Board through misrepresentation to abandon a runway at the airport. Lawsuit ensued.
The Frederick and Broomfield lawsuits were both extremely expensive for our citizens. In the Broomfield case, the alternative to litigation was negotiation (of which Mr. Acimovic seems to be incapable). In the case of Frederick, not only was Mr. Acimovic incapable of negotiation, his litigious style resulted in the Court’s rejection of the land grab, and subsequent appeal by Erie. Moore’s pompous public statement that “Erie doesn’t lose appeals” was obviously wrong, because not only were the taxpayers forced to pay exorbitant legal fees, but will also pay Frederick’s legal bills which may approach a half million dollars!
The Airport lawsuit, fomented by Moore’s insistence in routing the trail at the very end of the runway which, based on wind studies, is required for safety at the airport. Without referral to, or comment by, the Airport Advisory Board or other vested parties, the Moore administration removed this runway to facilitate the trail alignment. This lawsuit, initiated by pilots concerned about safety for local and transient traffic, has cost the taxpayers and those pilots huge money. In addition, part of the trail route appears to run through another land grab by the Town.
Without so much as a single public hearing, vetting by the AAB, or discussion with other interested parties, and in an effort to circumvent the ire of FAA, the Coal Creek Trail is proposed to be routed through the riparian waterway next to the airport, with no regard for cost, safety, wildlife preservation, or public input. This area is one of the only remaining wildlife sanctuaries in Erie! The alignment could easily be modified to work for all, as most want the trail, but the prior aministration refused to have any cooperative dialog. Where was OSTAB (Erie Open Space Advisory Board) when this was going down?
Nothing can be done about the sunk costs of the lawsuits, but the Airport suit costs can be very simply mitigated by realigning the trail to a better location.
In all fairness to the newly elected Mayor and Trustees, let’s make it clear that these awful actions weren’t their doing! Let’s also make it clear that holdover Trustees Ogg, Towner and Hauger have prior experience, knowledge and history with Moore and Acimovic, and therefore the ability to do the right thing and fix what they observed and, in some cases, voted for previously.
Under new leadership, our Trustees have the unique opportunity to move the trail alignment to:
1) a more wildlife friendly location
2) a safer location
3) a more airport friendly location
4) a much less expensive location, thereby allowing more amenities to be funded
5) a more scenic location
6) a location avoiding the stink of Lafayette’s sewer treatment plant
7) a location that does not create property rights issues
8) a location that will avoid more potential litigation
9) a location that will maximize the value of the GOCO grant for all trail users, by adding Broomfield to the system
Who doesn’t want all of the above?
Erie controls the GOCO grant money, and therefore the decision on alignment of the trail through Boulder County, Lafayette and Erie. This litigation insanity can be stopped by our Board of Trustees. They must exhibit the political will to listen to the open space stakeholders, airport stakeholders, wildlife stakeholders and trail stakeholders. The vote by our politicians for approval of a final trail alignment will come very soon. They must be decisive, and overturn the prior culture of decision making without the input of our taxpayers!
I think they’ll do the right thing by us.