by Lauren Enda

In 2017, Loveland faced a controversial issue similar to today’s proposed garage when the mayor at that time wanted to repurpose city hall. Neil Oury addressed the council multiple times on that issue. In one speech, he commented that it’s “important for open and honest dialogue to happen at all times and every person’s voice be heard and acknowledged”. I agree, but that has not been my experience. To open a dialogue and find answers, I sent six questions about the proposed garage to council members. Four members responded, and I thank Misters Ping, Butler, Bateman, and Hart. You guys are awesome. Hopefully, actions like these will finally encourage conversation about this momentous decision.

Loveland needs answers about the garage, and I have been looking. I even read the 436-page grant application to the Economic Development Administration. During that research, I found no data-driven reason to build the garage. This is not an exaggeration or hyperbole. There is no data, only anecdotes, and guesses. In the absence of verifiable data explaining why council wants to build it, I will again quote Mr. Oury, “What is the hidden agenda?” 

I worked in the US intelligence community for almost 30 years. In my career, I took part in various large government projects. But I have never witnessed so much government money being thrown at a project with so little data and with so little oversight. A referendum and the ensuing debate and dialogue it would encourage would offer some level of oversight since council would need to demonstrate why they prioritize the garage over other pressing projects. The council needs resident consent to change our town so dramatically.

If you care about Loveland’s unique ambiance, you will oppose this garage

The garage will deteriorate the charm of Loveland. The footprint of it would be approximately the same square footage of the playing area of a football field, not including the drives into and out of the garage. And two stories tall – literally tons of concrete would become our downtown view. Mr Oury again, “I would like to see the city maintain the charm and character that makes this place so wonderful to live in and for families to be raised.”     

If you care about the environment even a little bit, you will oppose this garage

The grant application stated that “no endangered species have been identified” and that “no direct impacts from the proposed project activities have been identified”. Neither of these statements are factual because neither issue has been studied. In addition, very mature trees will be ripped out of our downtown to pour concrete. Last year, Loveland was designated a “Tree City” by the Arbor Day Foundation. Since then, acres of forest at Blossom Hill were destroyed for a controversial housing project. And now Loveland is sanctioning more tree destruction. When will it end? Is Loveland a “Tree City” in name only? Council’s actions show a complete disregard for our natural spaces. 

If you care about solving problems in a thoughtful, data-driven way, you will oppose this garage

Loveland needs to study this issue. Really study this issue – to date, not a single study has been done on “why” the garage should be built or what the consequences would be if it were built. This careless approach to such a large investment is irresponsible. Here’s a blueprint on how council could handle this project:

  1. Create a Parking Committee and choose people with diverse opinions. 
  2. Commission a parking survey and traffic study to define the problem. 
  3. Ensure environmental concerns have been addressed with an impact study.
  4. Analyze the financial impact of downtown business on Loveland’s overall operations. Would a garage alter that? What is our return on investment? 
  5. Task the Parking Committee to develop a variety of options to address any parking shortfalls.    
  6. Share this information with residents BEFORE decisions are made and encourage two-way communication. 
  7. Include this data and resident input in a long-range, all-encompassing plan to tackle parking and traffic for today and into the future.
  8. Finally, if the council decides the parking garage is still the answer, then put it on a referendum and let the residents decide. 

If the residents of Loveland do nothing, this city-altering garage will be built without resident consent. If you oppose this garage, please contact your city council members immediately. 

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Lauren Enda lives in Loveland at Hidden Creek

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