by Lauren Enda

Loveland is a vibrant, bustling, and prosperous city. Which is why the question of increased parking space is an issue. People come to Loveland to live and visit because it is quaint and unique. Another asset that Loveland enjoys is an educated, engaged, and energized resident population. This is an asset that many towns would covet and that could be used to great advantage. Sadly, however, the mayor’s council continues to deny residents a vote on the parking garage, keeping them from actively participating in their own city. Instead of seeking a clear mandate through referendum to go forward with the plan, the council claims that all decisions, regardless of impact and cost, belong squarely with them. This lack of respect for residents’ role in Loveland’s future causes controversy and encourages mistrust of authority. A referendum would take away the controversy completely – the voters would have their say and all questions about the soundness of a garage and discord between residents on either side of the issue would simply dissolve.

The council could easily calm this discord and start to heal the damage caused by the garage proposal. By creating a referendum for the garage, the council sends a clear, strong, unequivocal message that they care what voters think; that they listen to the will of the people; that they trust the residents to make wise, thoughtful decisions. There is a bonus to the referendum for newly elected council members. By voting in favor of the referendum, the new members would prove beyond doubt that they are living up to their campaign promises to listen to residents.

Whether in favor of the garage or opposed to the garage, every resident in Loveland should have a voice in this momentous decision. And Loveland residents should not have to force the council into the referendum by collecting signatures. The path of pitting residents against council by collecting signatures to force a referendum is beneath Loveland city council and its constituency. This would only cause further distrust and anger among residents, which is not in Loveland’s best interest.

According to Councilmember Bateman’s statement on 23 November 2021, democratic principles are alive and well in Loveland. This comment was seconded by Mayor Bailey. A referendum is your chance to prove it. Create a referendum and let democracy take its course. There is literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Almost everyone agrees that the parking situation in Loveland needs attention. Let’s create a parking committee. Loveland has almost 20 committees and not one of them is tasked with parking. Let’s invite residents to investigate options and alternatives that will be cheaper, more flexible, and less intrusive. Let’s work together to gather data, define the problem, and come up with a range of solutions that can be openly discussed and debated. Working on this project could bring people together instead of causing strife.

Myriad solutions are possible: institute valet parking; purchase an old-fashioned retro shuttle to get visitors to locations in downtown; increase use of Nature Preserve parking; use Loveland’s beautiful parks for events and gatherings instead of having every event in the downtown area. All of these could be accomplished for a fraction of what the garage would cost and keep our town quaint and unique. Each of these solutions would also greatly reduce traffic into the downtown area. Let’s take a breath, think outside the “parking garage” box, and have a conversation. Let’s work together to get it right.

The decision on whether to build the proposed garage is too important to get wrong. And it isn’t important enough to tear the city apart.

Do the right thing. Heal the conflict. Put the garage on a referendum.

Lauren Enda lives in Loveland at Hidden Creek

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