Park improvements have been openly discussed

By Jakki Taylor


Dear Editor:

This will be my second response to accusations made about Paonia trustee David Bradford's ethical lapses, and I certainly hope it is the last. There IS a committee to propose and review the proposed improvements at the park entrance and either of the Brunners could have volunteered for it if they found it so worrisome. Funds to be used are RESTRICTED and only for use for public property improvements. Every point made by letters written by Bill and Jen Brunner was discussed publicly and at open town hall meetings.

No letter has been so blatantly irresponsible or disingenuous as Jen Brunner's attack on Dave Bradford. Ethics and oversight? The Kristen Chesnik affair has nothing to do with the current board and should not be compared with the park improvement plan. I am told that the subject of the park entrance was originally brought up in the spring of 2017 by our public works department. A member of that department then submitted a generic plan to replace some shrubbery with colored, stamped, concrete at an estimated $20,000. I understand the subject was brought up for public discourse in October. I was in the audience in November when several gentlemen offered to serve on a committee regarding preservation of the statue. No one spoke against it, offered design advice or other observations at that meeting.

Trustee Bradford did present some historical research on how the park became town property and how the statue came to be placed there. I attended a meeting in December where the park entrance was again discussed, and no members of the public spoke or objected. To say the public was deprived of the opportunity to offer an opinion is flat out dishonest. Bill Brunner, Jen Brunner or any one of the employees of the ornamental iron works business that they operate could have spoken up at any time. At the Jan. 23 meeting there were not only no objections, Trustee Watson declined to speak or vote. As to Paonia being "Space to Create," we are also members of Colorado's North Fork Creative District along with Hotchkiss and Crawford. No local artists were in anyway excluded. Ira Houseweart is from a family that has been on Rogers Mesa for more than 100 years and it's Hotchkiss, not Denver.

The funding for the park improvements, including ornamental iron work, are from the Conservation Fund to be used solely for parks maintenance, but sadly, the fund is insufficient to have maintained the contract with Mike Altenhoffen.

I think it is darned sad that the Brunners find it easier to expend energy slinging mud than examining the facts. I hope voters will remember that fact in April.

Jakki Taylor
Paonia