Bartlett Open Space

Professor Al Bartlett on the start of the city’s space program
by Al Bartlett

al_barlett_photo
Al Bartlett

Remarks prepared by Albert A. Bartlett for presentation at the celebration on the Pearl Street Mall (Boulder, Colorado, November 17, 2007) of the 40th anniversary of the November 1967 election in which Boulder voters approved the establishment of a sales tax to support Boulder’s Greenbelt – Open Space program.

And now it is time for me to say “thank you.” To a long list of people who have contributed so much to the initiation and continuing success of Boulder’s Greenbelt – Open Space program.

First, to Bob and Mavis McKelvey. I had the good fortune to work with them when they got this whole thing started with the Blue Line back in 1959.

Next, to Ruth Wright who was chair of PLAN—Boulder County. Forty years ago Ruth guided the massive campaign effort made by PLAN—Boulder County to urge voters to support the Greenbelt – Open Space sales tax ballot proposal.

Her leadership in the election campaign was effective, inspiring and wonderfully successful.

Next, to Oakleigh Thorne whose lifelong devotion to the understanding and preservation of ecosystems knows no bounds. The long-term protection of ecosystems was a central theme of Oak’s extraordinary participation in the Greenbelt–Open Space election campaign. His efforts to educate people about ecosystems continues undiminished to this day.

An unsung hero in the Greenbelt–Open space election effort of 1967 was the late Harold Malde whose photograph of the McKelvey and Gerstle children playing in a meadow Below the flatirons has become the iconic image for all that the Greenbelt–Open Space program represents.

Next, thanks to several leaders in the Boulder business community who supported our campaign. They had the vision to see that the Greenbelt–Open Space program was essential to a great community.

Next, we all need to thank Ted Tedesco, who, in 1967, was the new city manager. He saw that the Blue Line was only a short-term protection of Boulder’s mountain backdrop and that if boulder was to preserve the mountain backdrop for the long-term, it was necessary that the city own the mountain backdrop.

He saw what had to be done, and did it. He convinced a reluctant city council to put the Greenbelt–Open Space sales tax issue on the ballot.

At an informal meeting in the parking lot west of city hall, he then turned to a small group of us from PLAN—Boulder County and said, “you guys have got to win the election.”

We must thank an informal group of about a hundred volunteers from PLAN—Boulder County and others from the community, who recognized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Their tireless efforts through the entire fall of 1967 carried the Greenbelt–Open Space message to hundreds of boulder voters.

The great work of these volunteers was crucial to the passage of the Greenbelt–Open Space sales tax measure.

barlett_speechAnd now, we all want to thank the wonderful people of the staff of the Open Space and Mountain Parks Department of the City of Boulder. Today, and throughout the last 40 years, with dedication and devotion, they have done a magnificent job in the judicious purchase, acquisition and preservation of open space lands for the long-term protection of many ecosystems and recreation areas around Boulder.

While we are here on the grounds of the Boulder County Courthouse we should note that the voters of Boulder County followed the lead set by the voters of the City of Boulder. Some years after the city’s program was started, voters in Boulder County initiated an independent county open space land acquisition program.

The county’s program can only be characterized as absolutely outstanding, and for that we need to thank the dedicated staff of the Boulder County open space program. Most of all, we all need to thank you, the voters of Boulder, who have steadfastly supported the Greenbelt–Open Space program.A major manifestation of your support occurred with the Greenbelt–Open Space sales tax election 40 years ago.

We thank you for your continuing support in subsequent elections in which you have authorized the continuation and extension of this vital program.

To all the voters, past and present, we express our sincere gratitude.

Without this Greenbelt–Open Space program Boulder today would be just another dreary, suburban city, unsustainable and indistinguishable in the smog, pollution, sprawl and congestion of a giant and spreading urbanization that is engulfing and destroying the unique ecology of the entire Colorado Front Range.

The Greenbelt–Open Space program has made Boulder a special place.

Our task as citizens, now and throughout the future, is to work with the public and with the staff of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department, to continue the program of acquisition of more open space lands. Continuation of the vigorous program of open space land acquisition is made necessary by the continuing population growth in and around Boulder. Equally important, and as was envisaged 40 years ago, we must exert great diligence in protecting our open space lands from degradation and destruction by things such as circuses, carnivals and contests, and even from benign over-use.

We have the responsibility to manage our open space lands and their unique ecosystems so that they can be passed on, ecologically undiminished, to our children, to their children, to their children, … Ad infinitum.

My sincere thanks to all of you.

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