Letters to the editor
It is a fact that open space saves a community money for most residential development, and a good deal of commercial development simply does not yield enough tax revenue to cover the costs of the additional community services (schools, roads, police, fire and rescue, other infrastructure, government, etc.) that are required to sustain that development. Ultimately, the developer walks away with a profit and the additional costs to a community are simply added to the burden of the taxpayers in the community at large. In his letter (Vail Daily, Dec. 6), John Eschenlohr raises several valid concerns relative to the anticipated purchase for conservation purposes of the Eaton Ranch in Edwards. However, he conveniently overlooks the fact that most of the 72-acre portion of the Eaton Ranch that will be acquired is not flood plain or wetlands and is well-suited for commercial and residential development and it lies adjacent to over 100 acres in the Edwards valley floor zoned and protected as flood plain and wetlands. Indeed, a recent sketch plan by a local developer showed a scheme for approximately 400,000 square feet of commercial development and hundreds of houses on this very parcel of land. The fact that Route 6 and the Spur Road are at or nearing traffic design capacity, concerns about where the water to serve such a large development would come from, the appropriateness, desirability and need for such a large development, and the inability to secure adequate financing apparently took this proposal off the table. However, the land is there and will remain in play unless protected by acquisition for open space in perpetuity. Eschenlohr’s concerns about “where will future growth occur if not on the Eaton Ranch in Edwards” are valid, and it is up to all of us who enjoy (and wish to pass on to succeeding generations) the quality of life that Eagle County offers to residents and visitors alike to make it so. In this regard, it is important to elect officials to our town and county governments who will join forces and set some realistic limits to growth, and to encourage only desirable “smart growth” in appropriate locations in the county. The sad alternative is “growth at any cost” in the form of congestion, sprawl and strip developments that are so characteristic of “anywhere USA” until finally there is no “there” there.Conserving open space is the best tool we have to weave parks and playgrounds, bike paths and trails, sports fields and water features, woods and meadows throughout our communities and to provide green buffers to ensure that neighboring communities do not one day ooze together into one, unrelieved and unattractive mass.The vision has been articulated, and with considerable effort and cooperation this worthy goal will be achieved. Peter BerghEdwardsA couple of pointsI am writing in response to the Vail Daily’s Nov. 9 article “Russian student exchange an eye-opener.” Exchange student Chelsea Craig is brave and tough. Russians themselves are the first to tell you that life is difficult, especially in the Russian Far East. That Chelsea is sticking out such drastic changes in living conditions and culture is remarkable.I train teachers of English in Russia – often in Ussuriisk, where Chelsea now lives. … Many Russians in Vladivostok and Ussuriisk have read your article, and they would simply like to represent one or two facts more accurately to your readership. This is no reflection on Chelsea: those quotations excerpted from her e-mails reflect the reality of life in Russia. First, the city of Ussuriisk, is referred to in the article as a “Siberian outpost.” Americans generally refer to all of eastern Russia as Siberia; Russians do not. The eastern seaboard is called the Russian Far East (RFE). Nor could it really be considered an “outpost,” since it lies one hour by car from Vladivostok, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the RFE. Calling Ussuriisk a Siberian outpost, then, is akin to calling Bakersfield, Calif., a Midwestern outpost. It is true that soldiers walk the streets of Ussuriisk. Given that the town is nearly on the border with China and North Korea, it is amazing, in fact, that there are not more. The soldiers are not on patrol, however. They are unarmed, and the town is not under “strict military rule.” No curfew exists in Ussuriisk, though at night the streets are unlit, dark as pitch, and there is always the danger of stepping into a lidless manhole, as I did several nights ago. …Kevin McCaugheyVladivostok, Russia Vail, Colorado
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.