D.R.: Still can’t fill Invesco Field | VailDaily.com

D.R.: Still can’t fill Invesco Field

This isn’t exactly a PC thing to say in the company of longtime residents or our current county commissioners. But our population growth, stunning as it may seem to some, has not reached that apex where we reap the full benefits of rural living AND civilization.

We’re busy wringing our hands at the overpopulation we fear is coming and failing to notice it hasn’t quite arrived yet. Our quality of life has room to grow with more people living here.

Yes, blasphemy, I know. I know.

But look at this: The Shaw Cancer Center exists because almost enough people have moved in to keep the place going. The Vilar still requires subsidies because we don’t have quite enough of a population to fill the performing arts center more often. Colorado Mountain College is commuter school, with no sports teams, because we are still so small.

Gas remains expensive primarily because there is little competition among distributors. But look what happened when Costco opened. Gas prices dipped at least to Glenwood Springs levels at our downvalley gas stations. All the usual excuses faded into the blessings of competition for the consumer. Think that cannot translate to other currently expensive wares for sale here?

We still have “off” seasons because we’re too small of a community to bridge tourist seasons, primarily the ski season when most businesses still make most of their loot.

We leak our shoppers to Denver and Grand Junction for lack of offerings here. Study after study shows that.

We’re panicking about ruining the place with too much growth before we’ve grown enough to reap the best of what a community can provide. I’m speaking economically, culturally, educationally, medically, recreationally and sure, spiritually, too.

Not that our leaders can be morons about the consequences on tomorrow with what they decide today. I agree 100 percent with government leadership that sets Eagle County up for that “sustainable” future. Just don’t dismiss the value of critical mass to find that perfect level. It’s not just in trying to hold the tide back.

In this valley, where the second-home tide can easily overwhelm the local workers and price them out of their own community, affordable housing is every bit as much a part of the infrastructure as roads and sewer lines. That’s a unique challenge in a place where land for building is rare and precious. Let’s be smart about this.

Nearly 85 percent of Eagle County lies on national forest or Bureau of Land Management public property. Which is a big reason why I live here. No matter how much of the remainder gets built up, I can get to the woods in all of about two minutes from anywhere in our valley.

Sure, that’s a cynical view. But at very worst, we’re still wide open spaces.

Meantime, our valley’s population would still leave about a third of Invesco Field empty on fall Sundays.

We can be mindful of the future. And this is a great time to take the future seriously.

But suggesting that horrible future has arrived, or is inevitable, is a little silly, I think.

Growth brings a lot of good things, too.

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