Gypsum hesitant on GreenPort idea
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado – Vince Cook talked to the Gypsum Town Council about his ambitious and expensive “GreenPort” plan Tuesday night.
The council members didn’t vote on anything regarding the plan, but they did express wariness about the project’s cost and chance of success.
Cook is trying to scrape up about $600 million from private and government entities to create what would basically be a “green” community from Dotsero to Minturn that is tied together by bus and rail transit.
He said with growth and traffic projections, a depressed economy and environmental concerns, there are several impending problems that GreenPort addresses. However, he said he needs the valley towns’ support to move forward and gain more confidence and funding.
So far Minturn, Vail, Eagle-Vail and Beaver Creek have given their vocal support but not yet any money, and Cook is also confident Eagle will be on board, too. He said he had about $10,000 in mind as a possible contribution from each town when the time comes.
“I’m going after bigger fish when I know I have the towns behind us – and those bigger fish are the private sector and state,” said Cook, who was Beaver Creek “Citizen of the Year” in 2002, has a medal from NASA for helping development of the space shuttle and worked for IBM.
“I’ve seen a lot of change in the last 20 years, especially in the last two years,” said Gypsum council member Pam Schultz. “Maybe this is the future – why not try? I’m agreeable to it … I’m not committing money to it, but I’m willing to listen.”
Other council members were a little more frank, stressing concerns that the project pinned high hopes on large sums of money that don’t seem to exist even at the federal level.
“Right now I don’t want to contribute money … so I don’t want to enter a partnership,” said council member Tom Edwards.
Federal and state stimulus money are the big variable Cook is pursuing, but there’s a history of that money going to much more populated areas. Basically, it’s a long shot but it’s been a long shot the whole way so far and Cook remains optimistic.
“[Cook] is racing against the clock to get this proposal in front of the government for stimulus money and he’s doing this on his own nickel,” said Bob Rulon, who was in the audience at Tuesday’s meeting. Rulon admonished council members for their hesitation to support the idea. “I think we’re missing the bigger picture, here. People have broken leases because of poor bus service and high cost of gas and living.”
Rulon added later that the stimulus money will go somewhere whether or not people support the government spending money it doesn’t have, so it might as well go to this area.
Cook said he “would’ve given up already if [he] hadn’t dipped [his] toe in with the state” and received such encouragement. He listed several high-ranking officials, including two state representatives, one a Republican, who have urged him forward.