Open space is precious to all of us, but you can't just jump on the "open space or bust" bandwagon without actually using your brain to think things through. It seems like some major trick of irony to find people who are probably the most environmentally conscious not only in Vail, but perhaps the world, to be on opposite sides of what is essentially an environmental impasse.
You have to ask yourself, how is that possible?
I have seen Nicola, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens director and a horticultural scientist of some renown, engage in a fight for the protection of a single endangered penstemon. My heart goes out to her.
I know beyond a doubt that unless she believed with all her heart that the building of this educational center would not do more to preserve all open space worldwide, then she would not even be involved.
The original founders, Vail's pioneers, if you will, had to be the most positive people God ever created to think they could turn a sheep grazing area into a world-class ski area. Think of that!
In addition, they built a hospital, a library, schools, an interfaith chapel back in a day when that was an unheard-of concept. They had the foresight to create a venue for the whole valley and all of its visitors to participate in the finest symphonic music and ballets in the world, and of all things, a botanical garden. Really?
We are talking about serious science and preservation, the largest collection of alpine flora in the world. You have one of the rarest treasures in the Western Hemisphere right here in Vail.
Hugo and I, in taking a group of visitors through the gardens, were astounded by an Austrian couple who were so excited to see an actual edelweiss. Not just a photo of this elusive alpine jewel, but the real thing. Now, you can't just say go grow these kind of plants somewhere else because it is you here in Vail who have the only somewhere.
I know this next statement will seem far fetched, but you might be growing the cure for some rare disease right here in Vail and providing an educational and research library or a herbarium is the only way it could have been discovered.
This particular unobtrusive structure (which is not an office building) would be built taking every precaution possible to preserve the natural habitat that concerns all of us. You would provide an educational facility that would raise the consciousness of many to create integrated open spaces all over our planet. I'd say that's another world-class accomplishment for Vail.