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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

County future bleakwithout open spaceI drove home to Edwards Thursday night after the Nora Jones concert in bumper to bumper to bumper traffic. I was appalled. I was haunted by the idea that this was going to be the the future here in Eagle County.This is a future that will come to pass, if our myopic County Commissioner Tom Stone and his small group of unrestrained development supporters have their way.While much of what Commissioner Stone has said in this paper is, at best, a misrepresentation of the truth, he is missing the point. The point is that we, the people, as reflected by the passage of the open space tax are fed up with relentless development.To the ranchers out there who ask, “Will you buy my ranch?” I say, “You bet! If you are willing to put your ranch under a conservation easement for less that 30 percent of the appraised value, as Bair did, please, please step up.What? No takers?” Please prove me wrong.If Commissioner Stone is correct and Bair “pulled the wool over the eyes of the other commissioners,” all of you ranchers out there should be lining up for this great deal. The reality is that you are all waiting to cash in when the development juggernaut comes to your corner of Eagle Valley. I frankly don’t blame you.Who doesn’t want to be like Willis Nottingham when he sold Beaver Creek after a lifetime of back-breaking work for way way more than it was worth? That’s like winning the lottery.Please realize that if we don’t start tapping our foot on the brake pedal, we will kill the proverbial goose of golden egg-laying fame. If our mountain valley becomes too urban, tourism, our life blood, will dry up. They have traffic at home. They have mini-malls at home. They have sprawl at home.Reverse Kinsella’s famous phrase. “If you keep building it, they will NOT come.”Peter RunyonWhere’s your expertise?Isn’t it interesting that Tom Stone, Mike Cacioppo and the others who are maligning Arn Menconi and Michael Gallagher for their decision to support the conservation of Bair Ranch seem to whine about the same thing over and over again? The same gripes rephrased just to occupy space, conveniently in the anonymous TipsLine.Why don’t they back up their personal complaints with professional data? Instead, they sound just like Mr. Stone when he threatened his fellow commissioners during the hearing. Who’s doing whose bidding?Whereas those on the other side of the fence, led by Commissioners Menconi and Gallagher, have chosen for a myriad of reasons to support the professionals’ decision that saving Bair Ranch is the most important preservation project in the State of Colorado.This project has been a joint effort among a wide variety of individuals and interests, including Republican Congressman Scott McInnis, Democratic Congressman Mark Udall, Governor Owens, Great Outdoors Colorado, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and numerous other individuals and organizations with PROFESSIONAL expertise in land management.And the BLM rated the conservation of Bair Ranch as their No. 1 priority in all of Colorado in 2003.There is an extraordinary body of knowledge and data that backs up this decision. And it is all authored by professionals in the areas of land preservation and conservation who don’t have local or personal agendas!It would be great if the citizens who haven’t the time or interest to educate themselves about the subject of land conservation would trust those who make it their profession. Arn Menconi and Michael Gallagher certainly did! They not only listened to their constituents, but they listened to the opinions of professionals. They did what they were elected to do, make the best decisions possible based on all available data.In this case the data came in part from Great Outdoors Colorado and the federal Bureau of Land Management, both of which have goals, outlined below, that are critical to the future of the State of Colorado and the Western United States.From the Great Outdoors Colorado Web site, GOCO’s mission:To help the people of Colorado preserve, protect, enhance, appreciate and enjoy our parks, wildlife, trails, rivers and open space through strategic grants, partnership and leadership.Regarding GOCO’s strategic plan:The goals outlined in the plan have been developed with the future of Colorado in mind. In implementing this plan, the GOCO Board and staff will strive to ensure that its decisions have a lasting, meaningful impact on preserving Colorado’s natural heritage, enhance the quality of life for Coloradans and keep our state as special tomorrow as it is today.From BLM’s Web site:The Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 261 million acres of America’s public lands, located primarily in 12 Western states. The BLM sustains the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.Thank you to Commissioners Menconi and Gallagher for listening to your constituents and for making an educated, professional decision regarding Bair Ranch.Kelly BronfmanGloves offRegarding County Commissioner Stone (a.k.a. The Man Who Would Be King) and his state of denial per the Bair Ranch decision, I would like to comment as an outdoorsman and father of a young son.There are many of us in this county who have stood by and watched as nearly every square foot of the valley floor from East Vail to Red Canyon has been turned over for development. Even as I put down these words, the remaining open spaces from Wolcott to Eagle and beyond are all earmarked for development in the near future.As goes that development, so goes critical riparian habitat, river access and migration routes for many species of wildlife and, on a more altruistic level, the last readily visible vestiges of the wondrous Western heritage that brought so many of us to this area.I feel that there are certain things that we can do to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to see, experience and enjoy some of those same wondrous elements. An investment of this type ensures that a piece of this beautiful place in which we live and play will remain as it is for my son, and perhaps his children and beyond, to see just as I did when I first gazed upon it and as others did before me.There is something of intrinsic value there. Something that can’t be measured in whether or not it’s a good deal for the taxpayers, or whether or not the masses will be permitted to run amok with their motorized toys, scarring the landscape, strewing their abundant trash about. It’s not about us. It’s about the future.Wouldn’t it be nice to know that 50 or 100 years from now we would be lauded for our foresight and our stewardship of the future? We live in a culture that cannot and will not accept that there is value in something we cannot tangibly grab on to and cram into our already bulging pockets. It is a culture of the “here and now.” It is a culture of greed and conspicuous consumption.It is not surprising, therefore, that “King Tom” allegedly sought to secure for himself a potentially lucrative real estate listing with the owners of the Bair Ranch. And it is certainly no surprise that he would deny any ulterior motives in his attempts to put the kabash on the decision made by his fellow commissioners, crying sour grapes and trying to rally his reactionary troops.What is (only slightly) surprising is that after steamrolling and manipulating so many critical issues facing the county, coming out on top nearly every time, His Highness, in all his smugness and arrogance, cannot accept that for once, he came out on the short end of an issue.Poor King Tom. He hasn’t got the integrity and the grace to acknowledge what the people – his constituency – wanted and voiced through a flood of calls and letters and public comment.Or does he serve some higher authority? It seems to be the m.o. of today’s professional politician to promote and enact policy based upon one’s own agenda and special interests – all the while ignoring public opinion. Look at the good side: If real estate doesn’t work out for His Lordship, he’s got a future as a full-time politician. Let’s just hope Governor Owens doesn’t stop too quickly, Tom, you may break your nose.Howard LeavittAvonLet’s help those teachersI am a longtime local, with children in the public schools over the past 10 years. I will continue to have at least one child in the local public schools for the next 12 years. As such, I have been frustrated to see the pay raises stalled in the court systems. I don’t know how long this will goon, nor do I know if the person bringing the lawsuit is right or wrong in his allegations.I only know that I have had some wonderful teachers for my children. I also know that I have seen many of them leave the profession or move away (or both) because of the high cost of living in the area. I know that I have seen excellent teachers leave each and every year because it is just too hard to live off their salaries in our wonderful valley.I also know that my children’s education is compromised each and every time that we lose another good teacher due to the high cost of living.I know that having this lawsuit tied up in the courts has affected my children’s education and their futures. Education is critical to all our children – and I think we can all agree on that!As such, my husband and I were talking about some of our clients that are teachers. They are wonderful people and wonderful educators. We decided that we could help out just a little by offering a discount to our public educators in Eagle County.Do you know how it is when something wakes you in the middle of the night and you can’t get back to sleep? (In my case, it was my 6-year-old telling me that our snoring dog woke him up.) It was 5:30 a.m., and I was wide awake. The mind was grinding away, refusing to let me go back to sleep.I realized that my little attempt to offer a discount to Eagle County public educators would be a nice gesture, but would not add up to a huge savings for the teachers. However, my mind was still grinding and I was thinking that perhaps other local business owners would want to join in to offer some sort of discount – now THAT could add up to some significant $$$ savings for teachers. It would be a positive way to help teachers while we wait for the courts to plod forward with the pay raise. It would also let the teachers know that we appreciate the fact that they invest so much time and energy into the lives of our children.So this letter is my first step to see if there is any other interest in offering discounts to local public educators. If you are a local business owner and this idea appeals to you, I am asking you to call and let me know. I am not asking for any kind of commitment, just gauging the interest to see if there is any chance of putting together a list of Eagle County businesses supporting public educators.If it looks like it is possible, I will then call those that have indicated interest and take it to the next step of putting together an actual list of the business names and what kind of discount they can make available to public educators.Let’s support our teachers. Let’s do something positive for them. If you are interested in this idea, call or fax me with your business name, phone number and the name of a contact person.Beth RuarkWags & Whiskers


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