Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to point out the obvious. Such was the case last week when about 30 Commerce High School environmental science students briefed the Commerce City Council about problems at the city reservoir.
Certainly the city was aware of the litter. Surely city workers have long observed the muddy roads and noted the signs of mud bogging.
But when the CHS students looked at the reservoir, admittedly during the winter when it’s at its worst, their reaction was horror at the thought that their drinking water came from a lake polluted by litter and mud. They were offended that what should be an attractive, pristine site was allowed to suffer such abuse. In addition to complaining about the mess, the students took the time to come up with remedies (There’s a valuable lesson here: complaining is good, but actually having a practical solution is golden).
Citizen involvement has another advantage. Thirty people complaining about litter and mud bogging at the reservoir get the attention of the city manager and city council a lot quicker than do regular reports from city staff about the same issues. It took the public action of the CHS students to get the issue onto the front burner for the city government. Sometimes the public has to let the government know what’s important, and, frankly, the city council appeared gratified to be presented with an opportunity to take a relatively inexpensive action requested by so many of its constituents and to have young allies for an improvement project.
If the city chooses, it can turn the reservoir site into a park-like setting that more people will enjoy. That would require some grass seed, gravel, cable barriers, gates, regular trash pickup and mowing, and minimal grading to turn a muddy, litter-fouled area into a park. The city could also relocate at least three of the four picnic tables at the virtually unused “Presidential Park” on Maysville Road to the area to enhance and expand its use.
Citizens must keep in mind that the reservoir’s primary purpose is to provide drinking water, but as the students pointed out, with little expense and effort, its recreational use could be greatly expanded as a site for family (or even group) picnics, fishing and bird watching.
The students are right. Commerce should consider its reservoir as the asset it is and protect it for the use of all who will treat it with respect.