This is the "sidewalk" along Vine Street east of Shields where kids walk and bike to school. When kids reach the light, there is a crossing button that will enable them to cross to the south side of the street (which works for kids going to Putnam). But anyone traveling to Lincoln will need to go straight at the light, and there's no button to enable a pedestrian to cross that way. The student will have to wait for a green west bound light, or if there's no car to trigger that, then they may cross when the oncoming traffic gets a green (which often means that cars will be turning left into the path of the student). How safe would you feel taking this route?
The city and county are collaborating on a project to put a traffic circle in at this intersection, at which point they'll remove the light. Motorists tend to love traffic circles as it means you don't have to stop as frequently. But for elementary and middle school children, a traffic circle might be just as worrisome as what's already here. There's already a round-a-bout at Taft and Vine and many parents and students have complained that it's not a safe place for kids to be commuting. Cars sometimes enter the traffic circle far too quickly, and they're usually looking for other cars - not bikes and pedestrians.
Many northside schools have no sidewalks along the arterial streets that the kids use to walk or bike to school. The city has put a priority on sidewalks in residential areas, which makes sense given that that's where kids live. But we mustn't forget that kids walk and bike from those residential areas to schools such as Putnam, Irish, Tavelli, Lincoln and Poudre, all of which are near arterial streets without sidewalks or with insufficient sidewalks.
This is the second time I've attended the flash reading mob in Old Town Plaza that the library puts on. Highlights this year included several firemen in uniform reading around the fountain and Matt Hannifin of Science Toy Magic holding a sign and reading a book while riding a... well, it's sorta like a unicycle only it's most definitely not a unicycle. Unfortunately I didn't capture enough of it in the photo I snapped.
I live west of College, so I tend to take my morning walks west of College as well. Every once in awhile I walk through the business district and perhaps as far east as the main library. But that's generally as much of eastside Old Town as I see. But yesterday the dogs and I took a lovely walk through the Laurel School Historic District and almost to the current location of Laurel Elementary. (Did you know that Laurel Elementary is the oldest, continuously running elementary school in Fort Collins? But I'll save that for another post.) While walking I snapped some photos of eastside houses. I was even thrilled to find one that looked similar to the house that I live in, except that our house has wood siding and this one was brick. But the style (which I've only found in two other houses in town) was really similar. Very cool. So here are a few of the photos I took, with minimal commentary.
I like the colors on this house, and the flags just seemed to pull them all together so nicely.
OK, so the photo isn't all that impressive. But I like all the greenery (even in winter/early spring) and the feeling that this house is tucked away in a small forest.
This is another "house in a forest" photo. I love the little well in the front yard also.
This is a wee teeny house, and the porch is a little off kilter, but I like the red door on the white walls look. I'd like to come back and see how this house looks once the grass is green and there might be flowers about. I think the white and red will stand out well against the greenery.
This is another house that I think will stand out especially well once the yard greens up and perhaps the bushes will flower.
There's a house on the westside with very similar gingerbread decorations along the top triangular part of the house. But the house isn't kept in nearly as good repair. I don't think the westside house has these groovy windows, either. I wonder if they were built by the same builder.
What is going on with that second story porch?!!! I'd love to know if that's original or a crazy addition.
This was my lazy photo. I liked the decoration along the top edges of the house, but I was too lazy to walk over to the front of the house. We were turning left at this point so I snapped a shot of the side of the house (which is also nicely decorated) and left it at that.
No, it was not the tree that intrigued me at this house, though it is impressive. It was the addition. I considered taking a photo from the side so you could actually see the extent of the addition, but this angle intrigued me even more. Essentially this family doubled the size of their house buy building a full sized addition on the back end. But from the front, it almost looks like there's a house right behind their house. (Which essentially there is,... but it's attached.)
I feel like I've only skimmed the depth of the eastside neighborhood. In my mind I often think of it as the part of Old Town that's been taken over by students and been infiltrated with apartment houses. But the streets I walked yesterday were mostly houses, not apartments, and it was also fairly well kept up. I found it to be quite pleasant and not at all what I imagine eastside to be. I'm looking forward to getting to know this part of town better.
The overall sentiment in Old Town is that people like it the way it is. They don't like the change that's starting to happen with incredibly large houses coming into the neighborhood. But real estate agents, developers and especially speculators (who tear down and old house, put up a new one, and then sell it to the highest bidder) want to be able to sell/build/flip the largest, fanciest, most expensive houses possible because it means more money in their pocket. So several neighbors and I have started a group called Protect Our Old Town Homes. We have our own website which includes information about houses sizes, what is and isn't allowed under the new ordinance, solar access issues and other problems that neighbors have had when small neighboring houses are torn down and replaced with oversized and out of place modern structures. But today I also made some graphics that people can share on Facebook or Google+ to get the word out to their friends and neighbors. I thought I'd share them here.
I made two versions of the first image. One just shows a smaller and larger house together with the larger house blocking out the sunshine (which is what is happening in several instances around Old Town). In the second I changed out the newer house to look more modern. I modeled after two houses on the east side of Wood Street and one house on Akin. There may be more in this style, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind.
The survey was taken among a very large audience of Old town residents who showed up to a meeting in the Lincoln Center in November 2012. The overwhelming majority of people supported the changes, so when those who want to repeal the ordinance say otherwise, I don't know where they're getting their information. I often hear them refer to the petition driven repeal two years ago, saying that it shows a majority didn't approve of the last ordinance regarding this topic. The only problem with their use of the last petition drive is that it only included 3000 people, which is a very small percentage of people in Fort Collins, and 80 - 90% of the names on the petition sheets list addresses outside of Old Town. So what the repeal folks should be saying is that most people who don't live in Old Town and won't be affected by the ordinance one way or the other are willing to sign a piece of paper when asked.
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Every once in awhile as I'm walking the dogs in the morning, I remember what my friend Rogerio said when he visited from Brazil. He was amazed that our houses didn't have walls around them. It seemed like no big deal to me. But as I see the photos he posts of houses around where he lives, I realize what he means.
And when my friend Meirav posts photos from her walks, its abundantly clear to me that her photos aren't from anywhere around here. The moss on the roofs and walls and anything else that stops moving for more than a day shouts out like a bullhorn to me that her photos are of England.
And so, when I took a walk recently, I decided to snap photos of stuff that I might not otherwise think interesting or worth photographing. I tried to find things that I had grown used to, or that I might have walked past a zillion times before and not really thought about. With the exception of the biking ram and the decorated ram, the rest of the photos are stuff I pass by all the time and don't think twice about. (I think the biking ram is awesome and take special note of every biking ram I pass. And the decorated ram was a delightful little find as I was walking through the campus.)
I took these photos on a Sunday, and on Sundays I tend to start out at the local elementary school. I snapped this photo of the artificial turf in the background with the dormant grass in the shadow in the foreground. The artificial turf was added about 4 or 5 years ago to help cut down on watering and maintenance costs. It was a big deal when it was first put in. The kids would come home from school with fake "dirt" (made from old tires, I think) clinging to the bottom of their pants. But the ground is nice and level there. And it's surprisingly springy.
Around the playground at the school are various signs of exercises the kids can do during recess.
This is arugula growing in the school garden out front. I've helped out with the garden club at the school for the past 8 years. We had a yellow jacket infestation last year and several of the garden beds were sprayed with poison to kill the yellow jackets. So I'm not as keep to start gardening there this year. There are a few students who will be moving on from the school at the end of this year, so I might go in just enough to hang with them a last time or two. But I'll let the beds go to flower on their own instead of planting them full of edibles. I don't want to risk feeding poisoned veggies to kids. :-\
There's a lot of new building going on at Colorado State University. It's actually pretty nice looking, but you've gotta wonder how much tuition is skyrocketing because of these projects (and what that's going to mean for us once our kids get to college age).
This was some odd graffiti on campus that I had never noticed before.
A few months ago all of the biking signs on the bike paths in CSU turned into biking rams (with helmets, of course). I think these are very clever.
Students ride bikes. I did as a student. My sister had her bike stolen once when she was a student at CSU. She was late for a final exam and only locked up the front tire. When she came back, all that was left was that front tire.
More graffiti on campus. I like that they use chalk. Though we don't get rain often, it would be easy for the grounds people to clean the building off with a quick squirt of the hose. Then again, this building is in serious need of a paint job. The graffiti probably helps direct people's eyes away from the disrepair. (I pointed out earlier that there's a lot of new building on campus. But from what I can tell, there's a fair bit of regular maintenance needed on some buildings... this one in particular... that just isn't happening.)
I had to walk around this ram to get a photo from the side where the sun would be shining on him instead of from behind him. Once I got to this point, I was delighted to find that he had been decorated with a candy cane over his ear. It's hard to notice in the picture unless you know where to look. (His ear is up and to the left of his eye.)
This cute little bungalow is close to campus on Loomis Street. I believe that students live here. (I'm basing that guess on the number of bikes parked along the stair rails out front.)
This house is further north on Loomis, but given the state of regular disrepair the house is in, I'd say it's also rented by students. The main house seems to be fairly old, based on the architecture. It's a shame that the landlord doesn't keep it in better shape.
I'm not sure if students live here or not. At this point I was looking more for houses that I found to be interesting. This house is simple, but rather cute in its own way.
This house is a one of a kind. I don't know of any other houses in Fort Collins that looks like this one. This building is actually a duplex. There are two porches with two separate front doors. I love the large trees around it as well.
There you have it, my walk through CSU and a few bits of Fort Collins. I hope that it's as evident to those viewing these photos that they describe a very specific place. This isn't a walk through a cookie cutter world (despite the fact that we have many of them in the United State). The rams, the water saving measures, and the buildings all describe distinct details of the city where I live.