11/26/2007

Couple vows to fight RTD over light rail, eminent domain: 9NEWS.com, Denver CO, 10/12/07

By Nelson Garcia

For the last 23 years, Galen Foster and his wife, Kim Snyder, have been building their dream at the corner of 14th Avenue and Wadsworth [in Lakewood CO]. It's their home and business, but now it's slated for demolition.

"Even the city council people say we are Lakewood, we are a landmark," said Snyder.

She says they've been working for years to revitalize their area. The couple says they often clean up the roadways and neighboring properties. They've rescued dogs before being euthanized. And they've been running one of the most successful window-tinting businesses in Colorado, Pro-Tint Windows, which also sells art - mostly totem poles.

But on September 28, RTD sent them a notice of intent that property will be purchased to make room for the development of the 12-mile west corridor of the light rail under the $4.7 billion FasTracks project.

"I have 90 days to get an appraisal and figure out what I'm gonna do with the rest of my life after being here 23 years," said Snyder. In the immediate future, they have figured out what they're going to do – fight.

"We're not anti-light rail. We're not anti-eminent domain," said Snyder. "We're not anti-any of that stuff. We're anti-abuse and misuse."

On Saturday, the couple is holding a bake sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to raise money to start a foundation to help their cause and the cause of others who may feel abused by the eminent domain process.

"So this stuff stops happening to people," said Foster.

RTD spokesperson Pauletta Tonilas says the couple's land land is essential to the completion of the light rail.

"So there's a very fair process. The process is based on fair market value and due process," she said.

"You can't put a price on something that you've built, from almost nothing," said Foster. "We don't want to leave. I don't care for any amount of money. I don't want my life to change."

They dreamed of rebuilding their home and business within the next four years to a two-story plaza which can be home to several merchants on the first floor while they live on the second floor.

Right now, RTD is not even sure what it would do with the couple's land. It sits a block away from the where the light rail will actually go in. Tonilas says it could be used simply as a staging area for construction equipment while the light rail and stations are being constructed or it may also be a part of a parking structure.

"Why would you take out a taxpaying business and park equipment there?" said Snyder.

Foster says that uncertainty over their land and the fact that it is not next to the light rail is insulting. Plus, he claims RTD told them for years their property was safe.

"It's a direct slap in our face," said Foster.

Tonilas says it's for the greater good of the public who voted to build FasTracks.

"We understand this is a very emotional issue and explained to them why their property is needed," she said.

Foster says an explanation won't do.

"You know what, I'm gonna be here 'till I'm dead," said Foster.


9NEWS.com, Denver CO: http://www.9news.com