Minority trumps neighborhood consensus

I found the piece ”Commercial creep on East Third Avenue?” informative (Herald, May 4). However, as owner of The Jakway House, I was surprised that no effort was made to interview me. I have a few informational tidbits to add.

The quote, “The Boulevard Neighborhood Association has helped kill four proposals for bed-and-breakfasts on East Third Avenue since the 1980s,” is accurate as far as it goes, but not very explanatory. All its dues-paying members attended the Boulevard Neighborhood Association meeting on the B&B.

The vote was 13 against and nine for the project. This small organization inaccurately represents itself as the voice of the neighborhood.

Further on, the article reads, “East Third Avenue residents remain vigilant at keeping commercial creep out of the historic neighborhood.” This statement is misleading because a large majority of East Third residents supported the proposal.

According to the City Planning Department, 74 boulevard property owners wrote letters in favor of the project, 42 additional boulevard residents signed a petition supporting it, nine Boulevard property owners wrote letters against it, as did a B&B owner on Fifth Avenue, a person not living on East Third and one with no residential address given.

Unfortunately small-town politics carried the day. Council rejected the overwhelming neighborhood consensus to appease a small minority of residents. A golden opportunity to revitalize Durango’s declining historic neighborhood was lost.

The city attorney gave his legal opinion that future City Councils would not be obligated to approve applications in the neighborhood because The Jakway is the only property on the avenue surrounded by public land.

Mike Smedley put it all in perspective in his May 14 column: “Boulevard” has a specific meaning in Durango.

“Pronounced ‘bully-vard,’ this word describes when residents of a tree-lined street go to extreme lengths to preserve its ‘historic character’ by vehemently protesting tasteful commercial use of properties, but allowing a host of rundown, dilapidated rental homes to sully the neighborhood.”

I want to thank all 114 residents for their support, and for taking time to communicate concerns about property use in the historic district.

Carole Withers

Durango