Eaton a long way from done deal | VailDaily.com
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Eaton a long way from done deal

Kaye Ferry

I’ve shared with you that the editor, publisher and myself all agree on an issue – probably for the first time in the over two years I’ve been writing this column. It must be one of those cosmic alignment of the stars. Whatever. The topic, of course, is Eaton Ranch. A letter to the editor last week suggested that Don give it a rest, or the direct quote was “Could you move on to something else?” The writer also questioned the persistence of the newspaper on continuously restating its position. The quote there being “It is almost as old as the November election results.”I’d like to comment as to why these observations are unfounded and why they Vail Daily has, and I might add, should, continue to hammer at this topic.Because it’s not over yet.I won’t reiterate what my colleagues have eloquently written on these very pages. I will add that I agree with every word. Right from the master plan that has been ignored; the urgent rush to push this issue through with very little public education or input; the absence of an appraisal before the vote; the fact that the best part of this parcel is already protected as wetlands; the emotionally charged yet factually inadequate plea to preserve a gravel pit along a state highway; the absence of any logical reason for refusing to look objectively at alternatives; the depletion of the open space fund and raid of the general fund.I could go on, but you get the picture. With all of this in mind, there are other parts of this puzzle that need to be kept fresh in your minds. Which is why the Daily is being persistently – and to some, annoyingly – diligent about keeping this topic front and center.The deal is a long way from done. Here are the facts, and I’m going to use round numbers. Round? You bet. So round in fact, it’s hard to get your arms around all of the zeros but hey, that’s a job for the bureaucrats. They’re the ones who can embrace such idiotic spending. But then it’s not their money, it’s ours.The county approved the expenditure of roughly $6 million, or approximately half of the asking price; $3.8 million is to come from the open space fund and $2.2 million from the general fund. The Vail Valley Foundation has assumed responsibility for the other $6 million.So let’s stop here for a minute. This was billed as the deal of the century. Half-price land. The Vail Valley’s own Central Park, or so the spin was presented. Pleeeeease!It’s like going into a store and overspending on your credit card for something that makes no sense just because it’s on sale. I don’t know about you guys, but I got a lecture on that more than once from my father.The VVF is now in the position of having to come up with their half of the money. If they don’t, there’s no deal and the county is off the hook, as its pledge is contingent upon the VVF coming up with the cash. D-Day is Sept. 5. No show, no go. “Show me the money!”In the meantime there’s GOCO, Greater Outdoors Colorado. It was set up in 1992 through an amendment to the state Constitution (XXVII) that authorized 50 percent of the proceeds of the lottery to “help preserve, protect, enhance, manage the state’s wildlife, park, river, trail and open space heritage.”They are being asked to provide some of the funding for the proposed purchase. Eagle County has a representative to that board, and she has made it perfectly clear that she is not in favor of this expenditure. And as the GOCO administrator told me, she is a reputable member who has fought hard for Eagle County in the past. Her opinion is very well respected among the group and will weigh in heavily.The first GOCO hearing is slated for May 26 in Colorado Springs, with the vote anticipated on June15 in Sterling. And they will require an appraisal from one of their independent sources. They have many options that range from granting the requested amount to approving zero dollars to funding only certain portions of the deal.The rest of the money is to be provided by the VVF through donations. Here’s another reason to get the facts out. The more publicity this deal garners, the harder it becomes to get the checks from the big spenders. This is primarily because the public was not at all educated before the commissioners voted. Now that the facts are coming to the surface, there’s a lot of forehead slapping, “I didn’t know that” going around.In the final analysis, it ain’t over till it’s over. And until it’s over, I would encourage all of you who oppose this deal to keep the pressure on. Like it or not, that’s exactly what the Vail Daily should do, also. Because when it’s all said and done, if we can keep this irresponsible decision from actually being carried out, it’ll be worth all of the harping.On a parting note. I am not against open space. I am against irresponsible use of public funds compounded by an incomplete public process fueled by hysteria. I can already hear the Tipsline ringing as I hit the send button.VAIL FILM FESTIVAL: Starts tomorrow. Put it on your calendar and don’t miss it! Four days. Films galore. Music showcase. If you’re a movie fan, it just doesn’t get any better. Talk about a kid in a candy store! March 31- April 3. Write it down and buy your tickets.Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry. Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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