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Brown on water

Roger Brown

It has been a few months now since I decided to run for county commissioner and I’ve learned a lot. It’s time for an update.First, the water issue is more serious than I thought. The county is running on borrowed water to some degree. We have reached a critical point where decisions in favor of new large developments are most certainly going to negatively affect the quality of our rivers and streams. Since we can no longer just assume that if we build we will find water for the development, water has to be considered a control factor in growth. I will be taking up the fight for the streams and rivers. The big enemies are the east slope cities and their transmountain diversions.Second, I have suggested pursuing a Colorado Winter Olympics as a means to getting support for building light rail or a monorail between Denver and the Eagle Airport. My reasoning is simple: The light rail will alleviate traffic congestion and pollution problems on I-70. It will cut back on the wasteful consumption of limited fossil fuel. It will be safer and cheaper in the long run although the initial capital investment will be big, probably over $4 billion.Like any big solution to a big problem, this idea comes with pitfalls. The Olympics could become a stimulus for more out-of-control growth. The county and the towns will have to have strict enforceable zoning restrictions in place before the light rail is approved. Otherwise we will jump from the frying pan to the fire. But light rail is the best solution to our secondbiggest problem, of this I have no doubt. And holding an Olympics is probably the only way to get the state behind the light rail project.I have suggested connecting Vail and Beaver Creek with a series of lifts that would stop in Minturn. This idea came to me after a Minturn town meeting where the problematic Ginn development was explained to some degree.The reasoning here is to find alternative way to give Minturn a boost to their sluggish economy. This idea is also dangerous as it could spawn more trophy home developments, which the county doesn’t need. On the other hand, if a cable car terminal on Meadow Mountain near Grouse Creek encourages the building of small hotels, bed and breakfasts, and shopping in Minturn, it makes sense. In Europe it is a common practice to ski from resort to resort.It could add a whole new dimension to the Eagle County skiing experience. There are also wildlife problems connected to this idea, but I think they can be mitigated. For more info on this idea contact Vail founder Earl Eaton in Eagle.Unfortunately, the economics for the builder of the system do not look that good so it may be a pipe dream. I am not a developer, I throw these ideas out to solve problems, not to make money. I don’t expect every idea to take hold.Wind and solar energy. I have no reservations about promoting an Eagle Country Airport run with solar and wind power. It would be a wonderful example to the high rollers who fly in and out of here. It could change the image of Eagle County from a frivolous playground to a new kind of forward-looking resort community.Big boxes. We have them and are getting more of them. I don’t believe in crying over spilt milk, but I deplore the fact that the I-70 corridor is turning into another generic strip city from one end of the county to the other, an extension of Denver. I will, in every way I can, encourage small privately owned businesses where the owners are local and part of the communities.Wilderness. There are some big battles on the horizon here, particularly if the present administration in Washington continues. Oil shale development could have serious impacts on Eagle Country, although that problem is a few years off. Dirt bikes, ATVs, and helicopters are having more immediate impacts.In sum, every idea, every position, every willingness to stand up to established ways of doing things, comes with risks. It seems to me the greatest risk, however, is in doing nothing. I am willing to speak out, to follow the less traveled path, if I think it will benefit our county.Yes, I am opinionated but I am listening. I know I have a lot to learn. I know you have concerns I haven’t heard about. I am approachable. Please contact me. My E-mail is rogerbrown@summitfilms.com.Thanks for your support.Roger BrownGypsum


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