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Posted: March 05, 2013

The Uncle NIMBY syndrome

Not in my backyard -- but maybe in yours

David Sneed

I know a guy who lives in West Arvada between Indiana and Highway 93. Every time I see him – let’s call him Uncle Nimby – I get to hear about how “they’re trying to force C470 through the neighborhood.”

He exaggerates a bit. It’s three miles away.

Usually, he’s happy because some recent study proved they can’t pave without plumes of radioactive dust killing us all; or because some group just bought a parcel to block construction.

“It’s more about the safety of the environment than stopping the road,” he says.  Funny how conscious of the enviornment people get when they own a house with a view.

Remember when US 85 was the only North/South road through Colorado? Neither do I, but it used to be. To get to the Springs, you’d have to buggy through Littleton and Sedalia.

If you and I weren’t here, they might not need I-25, but I was born and so were you and a million like us. And now, we have an Interstate running through our backyard.

That’s the price of progress: More people need more roads. And when they put in I-25, they paved over the homesteads and farms that Easterners invented to ‘get away from it all.’ Unfortunate for the homesteaders, of course, but imagine life today without I-25.

Denver used to be a one-lane town, but those days are long gone. We live in the biggest city for 1,000 miles. That’s like making Paris the only city in western Europe. In fact, if Denver is Paris, then Chicago’s in Kiev. And big cities – commercial hubs – have an obligation to be accessible.

Denver keeps attracting new business and more people. That’s good for us all. But to get around, and for the sake of commerce, we need a ring road. We need 470 to girdle Denver.

The good news is that the prairie won’t be lost. We still have a ton of it out East, not to mention Wyoming. Wyoming is lousy with prairie.

All we’re really losing is a couple of hundred Uncle-Nimbys’ worth of "My Blue Heaven."

Old Man Smith or someone once lived where I-25 and Meadows Parkway is now, and every day, we wheel over the house he and the wife built back in ought-four. But it had to go. I regret his loss; however, this Denver might not exist if we hadn’t built that Interstate.

It’ll come eventually, the ring road; it’s as inevitable as traffic and taxes. Meanwhile, the lawsuits and stalling serve only to cost the rest of us actual dollars in court, and future dollars in difficulty of commerce. And all because you want your house (and the one four feet away from yours) to have that ‘rural’ feel you imagine it has.

Uncle Nimby drives a car – an SUV, actually. And he eats food and buys things, all of which come into town on trucks. His life revolves around the highways, yet he doesn’t believe in this one "because of the environment."

Yeah, right.

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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Readers Respond

David, I enjoyed your story. At a recent coffee klatch at a local greasy spoon, I overheard a group of old timers discussing this very topic. "Why back in MY day..." Ah well, the only thing you can count on is change. We tend to resist this truth the older we get. By Gramps on 2013 03 07
I grew up in Tulsa, not quite half the size of Denver, and the connected freeway system there is already light years more abundant and ahead of Denver Metro. I'm always amazed when I return there for a visit as to how easy it is to get around (except perhaps for rush hours). Everyone knows 'taint like it used to be, but unless we face reality now, things will be so gridlocked that we will have few options against relentless demand. Then just listen to what the complaints are like. Didn't we hear the same song about building that new airport half-way to Kansas? By Neal Browne on 2013 03 06
Tony, thanks for the comment. "I could live there, but it's too dangerous to put a road in?" That's what my friend seems to say. Everyone who bought downwind from RF knew they were downwind from RF. It's just a road they want to put in, not a secret sub base. By David on 2013 03 05
Your friend (uncle?) is correct on this one. I don't know how long you've lived in the area, but if you've been here long enough, you should remember what went on at Rocky Flats back in the bad old days. They used to trundle a drum of waste out the back door, take it somewhere out on the property, dig a hole and bury it. They didn't mark the locations - there was plenty of space out there. Anyone who lives downwind of Rocky Flat should be ver concerned about all the crap they'll stir up when they build that road. Broomfield's water supply used to have tritium and deuterium in it, as did Standley Lake. And now the whole area around Rocky Flats is covered with new housing developments. By Tony Grieder on 2013 03 05
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