Letters: Eagle County leaders missed the mark
Vail CO, Colorado
Preserve I-70 corridor
It is clear that the Eagle County Commissioners were strongly influenced by a special interest group (Eagle Valley Land Trust) when they made their decision to buy hypothetical development rights for the Gates Ranch while leaving ownership of the land with the Gates family.
The Land Trust’s objective is to restrict land from development regardless of where it is, so they can crow about how many acres they have in their portfolio. This is fine as long as they do it with private donations. But when they come calling on the Eagle County taxpayer to promote their cause, the criteria should also include benefits to citizens: Can they see it? Can they access it? Can they use it?
None of these criteria were present in the case of the Gates Ranch.
The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner Arn Menconi laying out a sound argument against the application, stating that open space opportunities in the I-70 corridor should have higher priority. Commissioner Sara Fisher indicated she was “voting from her heart,” having enjoyed a long-term political relationship with former commissioner Bud Gates who takes credit for starting her political career when his board appointed her county clerk a decade ago. Finally, Commissioner Peter Runyon leafed through the grossly inflated appraisal and couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with it, (even though the Open Space Advisory Council voted 9-2 that Eagle County needed another independent appraisal). As a result, Fisher and Runyon approved $2.1 million for their Democratic brethren.
What Fisher and Runyon ignored was the absence of open-space benefits for the taxpayer. There are none!
Why can’t the commissioners use this open space money where it serves a useful purpose and approve projects that are helpful to our communities who are constantly pressured by developers? The Eagle River Preserve is the only positive example thus far, where the county partnered with the Vail Valley Foundation to create a park on the west side of Edwards. We need more of this throughout the development corridor.
In less than a year you will be voting for two commissioners. Let’s make sure we understand their positions on expenditures from the open space fund, which will be extracting more than $3 million annually out of YOUR taxpayer pockets!