How did flaming tiki torches find their way past the stringent historical regulations of downtown Durango? These torches, securely mounted in flagpole holders in front of Moe's Starlight Lounge, occasionally blaze with fire dangerously close to the building and nearby trees. After the two most recent Main Avenue fires, I would have thought open flames would be against the rules. - J.D. Browning
You're kidding, right? Ain't no way there are flaming tiki torches on a downtown building. But J.D. had the photographic proof.
Right there, on the 900 block of Main, a small inferno flickered a few inches from the side of a building in blatant violation of common sense - not to mention fire code.
The city was not warmed by the creative mood lighting. It extinguished Moe's torches faster than you can say Happy Hour.
"We thought they were cool and tried them out," lounge owner Rich Carney said of the exterior tiki torches. "But the city came in the other day and said tiki torches were a safety hazard. So that's pretty much it."
As for the issue of aesthetic authenticity of downtown storefronts, local historians confirmed that Polynesian influences were notably lacking in frontier Durango. Thus tiki torches would be rejected by the Design Review Board, regardless of the torches' lit or unlit status.
I live on East Fifth Avenue, which used to have a fine, blacktop pavement. Recently, the city has laid tar and tiny chips of rock over this fine pavement. Now we have a major windshield hazard, little rock chips everywhere, and lots of noise every time cars drive by! What gives? Why didn't they leave well enough alone? - Seeking Sense and Silence
Leaving well enough alone isn't an option when it comes to municipal thoroughfares.
The city tried deferred street maintenance once already. It's called Florida Road - and we all know how that one turned out.
The city's chip-and-seal resurfacing project on East Fifth was needed because Atmos Energy last year dug a trench in the street to bury a gas line.
The city applied the chip-and-seal to ensure the repaired road would not have to be reconstructed later, a process that would be far noisier and much more costly than a coat of chip-and-seal, according to Levi Lloyd, street manager with the city.
The crunch of gravel will subside in time, he said, adding that the city deploys machines weekly to sweep up the debris
It's time for another edition of the Mea Culpa Mailbag.
A reader who prefers the sobriquet of "A Nonny Miss," takes Action Line to task for last week's response on varmint removal.
"The ammonia, lights and noise answer is impractical and far-fetched," she writes.
"We have a secret hero in our neighborhood. Dick Cheney's enhanced interrogation techniques will never reveal the identity of this person," the reader adds.
"He or she uses a safe live-trap and persistently catches raccoons and transports them in to be released on nearby national forest land (which, for reasons I can't fathom, may be an illegal act). Their perseverance over many summers has paid off, and we are all so grateful."
By the way, if you want to relocate trapped pests, the folks at the Colorado Department of Wildlife said there are some restrictions.
Raccoons have to be released within a 10-mile radius of the original trap location and with the permission of the landowner. If you liberate varmints in the forest, you will need to get an OK from the U.S. Forest Service, which likely will say no because it introduces a new predator into the ecosystem.
In the case of skunks, the DOW says you have two options: release the smelly critter on the spot (which makes no sense), or do something that will really tick off the animal rights people - and Action Line doesn't want to deal with the zealots at PETA.
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you check with your bartender to see if a flaming cocktail violates city code.