Completing an open space thought |

Completing an open space thought

Don Rogers

I was reminded by an open space advocate that I enjoyed the view driving up Coffeepot Road to the Flat Tops recently precisely because the Bairs sold their development rights to their ranch in and around Glenwood Canyon and because a 500-acre property on Coffeepot has not as yet gone the development route.

I left that out in my reverie, which was aimed at the good folks who for whatever reason live up here but never get off the I-70 corridor into the wilds.

Doh! I left out the key part of my philosophy that the open space worth saving is in the current hinterlands that will become developed over time. The land along Coffeepot, off Highway 131, up the Colorado River Road and even in the Bond and McCoy areas is far more valuable in that open space sort of way than a lousy little gravel pit in downtown Edwards.

The killer is that our county commissioners are wasting money and political capital on land that’s both too expensive and just not worth the money in open space. Unless of course you are a dope who never leaves current civilization.

In the I-70 corridor, there’s Wolcott ” whose death knell as pasture is tolling as the fundraising for the gravel pit reaches its successful completion. Oh, watch. The Edwards Overlook, those 600 acres up high behind Singletree, could develop if a land trade isn’t worked out. Over 2,000 acres up Lake Creek is prime; so much for the traffic that Edwards residents seem to think they’ll avoid by buying the gravel pit.

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There’s a ton of private land with open space potential. Think if Lake Wolcott goes through and all that land Magnus Lindholm controls or is in the process of controlling? Think that might be worth something down the road.

Just a little foresight with Ginnturn ” those 5,400 acres running from Minturn to Red Cliff ” could have avoided a development bid for more homes than Minturn has people.

Sure would be nice if the county would take a proper inventory of what’s available out there for open space protections before leaping for a scheme to drain open space funds and instead of helping the greater open space effort actually hurting it.

Hurting it? How? Well, by eroding public trust and political capital for a chance to get the voters to approve borrowing against the county’s open space fund. By emptying the open space fund as nearly the first act of the new majority of commissioners back in January.

By frankly, failing to ask the basic question before leaping: What is the best thing to do with these precious funds for the overall betterment of open space values. The commissioners wouldn’t have squandered the money on the gravel pit if they seriously asked this simple question instead of insisting they just knew the answer already.

Now we learn that Commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi are just fine with private decisions about alternatives to the Eaton Ranch plan that clearly belong in the public domain. With Commissioner Tom Stone not consulted at all.

That is an even worse development than spending money poorly.

But anyway. … Saving the fringes of current developable land for less money, with the added wildlife value and scenery outside town is the truly important stuff. The gravel pit, alas, is the antithesis of all that ” and will prevent saving much better land.

Don Rogers is not against open space, as critics who clearly have not thought this out very far, squawk. He’s just against the Pryric victory that will prove very costly in the future.

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