Lawmaker rips pricey privy near Bells CO.

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Lawmaker rips pricey privy near Bells

By Bill McAllister , Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief

Friday, August 17, 2001 - WASHINGTON - What some Coloradans are calling the "Flintstone Palace" - a $1.7 million restroom the federal government has built near the famed Maroon Bells - could join the $300 hammer as an example of wasteful government spending.

Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins, has demanded that Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman explain why the U.S. Forest Service spent so much money on the 14-stall bathroom. They are "perhaps the most expensive toilets on the planet," the lawmaker fumed.

Confronted by a constituent's complaint on a radio show, Schaffer said he couldn't explain the price. "I still can't," he told Veneman in a letter released Thursday.

District ranger Jim Upchurch acknowledged that the facility is "very expensive," but he said the total price includes an amphitheater, vistas, walkways, avalanche-proof toilet building and environmentally friendly toilets that don't require smelly lagoons.

In his two-page letter, Schaffer offered to give Veneman and the Bush administration "at least the benefit of the doubt" because they were new on the job. But he followed his demands for an explanation with an ultimatum. "If that proves too difficult a task, I hereby promise I will urge my colleagues in Congress to join an effort, which I will lead, to move the U.S. Forest Service's regional center from Lakewood to a brand new $1.6 million facility with a spectacular view of the Maroon Bells that would be the envy of every nature-loving employee in the Forest Service," he said.

Construction of the facility at the entrance to the 185,000-acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen created a furor. Many of the visitors to the site of one of Colorado's most photographed natural wonders were angered by the bathroom's location and the fake rocks that adorn it.
 

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