Brown: Economy needs to change |

Brown: Economy needs to change

Scott N. Miller
NWS Roger Brown2 SM 9-8-06

I have lived in Eagle County since 1962. I have seen all the changes, from rural to urban. I understand the complexities brought about by two very significant ski areas that have developed adjacent to the I-70 corridor. I have successfully fought for Vail’s water, for statewide minimum streamflows, for wilderness designation, and agricultural open space by protecting the ranchers from a federal lands grazing fee increase. I have a proven track record when it comes to solving the tough problems.I have a willingness to address the problems facing Eagle County without the influence of a political party and special interests. Tom Edwards received a $2,000 campaign contribution from a partner in the Airport Gateway project. I can and will do what is best for all the residents of Eagle County.

We have to shift the county’s priorities from maximum development to a stable services economy. We have to get ready for the inevitable. We are approaching build-out in many areas. We are running out of land and water. Urban renewal will continue to provide work for the construction business but not at the pace we have seen in the recent past. We already have a thriving resort business but we have to find other new economic opportunities. The alternative energy business, retrofitting homes and businesses to take advantage of solar energy, is one good option.

We shouldn’t think in terms of big and little issues but the dynamic whole. People who work here should be able to live here and still have time for their families and to enjoy the natural amenities they came here for. We have to guard against outside forces who want to take our natural resources like water, or would pollute our air like the gas and oil industry west of us. The county has to work with the towns to clean up the congestion caused by too much development and not enough concern for the roads that connect the developments and our towns, the airport, and the big boxes. A lot of work needs to be done on our infrastructure.

Have an open mind. Cooperate. Surely rational, intelligent commissioners can put aside their personal differences for the good of the whole. If nothing else, the traffic gridlock we already have will force cooperation. One major water source, the Eagle River and its tributaries, runs through the entire county, so every town’s water supply is impacted by the actions of other towns. The county, with the Eagle River Watershed Council, will have to take the lead in trying to keep the balance between domestic water supplies and healthy river systems. And the county will have to fend off entities like the Denver Water Board that will take our water if they can.How can we maintain viable small town communities in face of the big boxes in Avon and Gypsum? I wish I had the answer. I know the county should work with the towns in every way possible to encourage the support of small, locally-owned businesses. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities.

Living here will be more affordable and we will have a happier, more stable work force as a result. We will be using more renewable energy resources. We will have held off those who want to take our water. We will have less traffic congestion because of a better infrastructure and better mass transportation. And business will be good. We will continue to be the premier ski resort in North America. We may even be looking at holding a Winter Olympics.

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