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Action Line shines light on the brightness

This bright light is, or was, brightening up the nights, but not in a good way. (Courtesy of North Main Night Sky Watcher)

Dear Action Line: There is a BRIGHT light attached to a power pole in the alley behind Starbucks on north Main Avenue that was installed around January. At first, it was pointed directly at the south walls of the Uptown Condos, shining through the condo windows, and illuminating the entire alley, Starbucks parking lot and dumpster. The light is now directed down toward the dumpster. Unfortunately, the light remains bright: It’s daylight all night! What happened to Durango Dark Skies, and why does Starbucks get to light up its entire parking lot and our homes with this bright (stadium) light? Along with the Starbucks entrance sign being lit 24 hours, this seems like a waste of power. – North Main Night Sky Watcher

Dear Night Sky Person: Action Line admits to being in the dark about a lot of things. That includes the existence of “Uptown Condos,” which upon further review have now been there for about 15 years. So, people actually live there. Well, how about that?

Don’t confuse those condos with the “Uptown Apartments” a couple blocks north, which, after a remodeling, took the place of some former Spanish Trails Motel rooms a couple of years ago. And the Travelodge in that area is now Aspen Village Apartments. People are living all over the place up in Uptown. Well, how about that?

So, who is responsible for that light, and can anything be done about it? Well … any answers? Anyone?

OK, looks like it’s up to Action Line to do some digging. Starting to look like that’s how this deal is going to go every week.

After determining it wasn’t a city of Durango light, an inquiry was made to La Plata Electric Association, which is generally in charge of lights mounted on electrical poles, as is the one in question.

Hillary Knox, LPEA’s vice president of member experience, checked with the operations team, and returned with this response.

“We’ve looked into this and the light is ours,” she said. “It is an older type of light which is not dimmable, so our crews are going to go over there and remove it for now. If needed, we can replace it with a dimmer option down the road.”

So, apparently problem solved. Well, how about that?

Dear Action Line: What’s up with the state police using the metered spots in front of the La Plata County Courthouse and ignoring the requirement to pay the fee? Couldn’t they either follow the law and pay the fee, or park in non-metered spaces and walk 50 yards? – Not Free-For-All

Dear Not: While it may seem that this system puts certain public employees above the law, there is a good reason that police and others using official vehicles are not required to put money in the meter. In other words, readers, if you need a reason to be upset with public officials, look somewhere else.

“Government official vehicles while on official government work are exempt from paying parking meters,” said Steve Barkley, code enforcement officer with the Durango Police Department. “They are required to park legally, however.”

“Official” vehicles include those used by law enforcement and the street department, for example.

“Citizens probably think the officer or government official should pay the meter,” Barkley said. “The government official would pay the fee, then would have to file an expense fee, run it through the chain of command, finance, etc., to be reimbursed (by) effectively the taxpayer, thus raising taxes and cost of government.”

Well, what he’s saying does kind of make sense.

If a city vehicle not involved in an emergency is parked in a red zone or handicapped spot, Barkley noted, it is parked illegally. These vehicles “can and have been issued a parking citation.” And hopefully it is the employee, not the taxpayer, who then foots the bill in these cases.

Loving a good conundrum, Action Line wondered if Barkley would write himself a ticket if he found his meter had expired. He responded that code enforcement officers are exempt too, assuming they’re on official business.

Hmm. That’s no fun.

Dear Action Line: Just out of curiosity, is it supposed to be ironic for the “Gulch A Bridge” to bridge a gulch? Would it have been more descriptive to call it “A Gulch Bridge”? Could both bridges have been abridged to “Gulches Bridges”? And are there chasm schisms? On the ridge between “Gulch B” and “Gulch A” will there be a sign saying, “Chasms’ Schism”? (Tourists would travel from near and far just to try to read it aloud!) Will they rename the new interchange “Mediocreview”? How come nobody ever consults with me about these important decisions? – Wryawry

Dear Wryawry: Yes, well, um, OK, let’s just leave it at that.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Lesson of the month: Put enough of us humans out there driving 38-foot RVs around the mountains, and one of us is eventually going to try driving the entire length of Lime Creek Road, towing a sedan to boot. What will “we” do next?