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Letters to the editor

Jan Rosenthal Townsend

Dear Mr. Open and former Avon Councilman Buckley: Please allow me to introduce myself as I don’t believe we have met, and I don’t think you were privy to every Red Mountain Ranch hearing in Eagle since October 2004 as I was. I heard it all. Did you?I have no problem with free speech. As you know I certainly take advantage of the newspapers to voice my opinions, but I’d like to set the record a little straighter regarding your last column “The Duplicity of Dialogue,” since you took the liberty of using my name.You are correct in saying that “I hate sprawling regional retail development.” In fact, I abhor it. The operative word here, however, is sprawling. And that is what big box retail is. Regional large scale developments bring major traffic problems, endless sprawl and concrete, pollution and crime. Not pleasant for a small town. We unfortunately have that type of development already in Avon and will have it soon in Glenwood. This was a “quality of life” issue for most of us and we are vehemently opposed to any development that destroys what we moved here for. Commissioner Runyon said in his article just the other day that this valley is out of control in respect to development. I am not anti-development by any means. My business depends on it. But things have gotten a bit out of control in the past few years, to say the least. Our quality of life is disappearing rapidly, and it is a damn shame. Although not an easy task, we can still do something about it.You said in your column, “I wonder how many of those wonderful families living in Eagle Ranch would vote against a lower cost food store like Costco?” I say this: Regarding a referendum, there won’t be one. And Eagle Ranch families aren’t the only ones that would have voted if there were one. Those families moved downvalley for a reason. Regional retail was not here when they did move here. However it is in Avon, will be in Glenwood shortly and Costco will most likely be in Gypsum in the near future, where we will share the tax revenues thanks to Gypsum’s generosity. I personally would prefer to see it nowhere in this valley, but I do sympathize with families that need to save money at stores like that. I am not a NIMBY in this case, but I have no problem owning up to the fact that I am a NIMFY. Not in my FRONT yard. The land where RMR would have been located is the gateway to Eagle and it is one of the first things our guests flying into Eagle pass by on their way through Red Canyon to Vail and Beaver Creek. A Costco or any other national big box does not exude the quaintness, the charm and the historic Western feel that Eagle has always been noted for. We are different than the rest of the valley and America. We should remain different. I realize that the land at RMR will be developed someday, if not bought and put into open space by a private entity. But I believe that there can be a better use than what was just proposed and thankfully denied – a use that is more fitting with what Eagle exemplifies. Unfortunately, that use that all of us may buy into may not be agreeable to the owner-developer of the land (Merv Lapin) due to the fact that it won’t net him (or his investors) the biggest dollars. It is always about the money.The other major opposition point was the actual numbers – they didn’t work. I commend our mayor and those four council members that had the ultimate intelligence and vision to vote no on something that wouldn’t work for this town. Also, we never knew what the project really was, who the anchor would be, and most importantly, we never really knew what the final numbers were nor did we have any guarantees that it would generate the numbers we needed nor that it wouldn’t go dark someday. With a new full-diamond interchange on the property, we as a town would have had to contribute around $34 million. Does that make any sense at all to anyone other than to the developer?Please remember, this project was not about helping small businesses and locally owned businesses thrive and prosper. This was about bringing in yet another corporate-owned large retail operation to a particular parcel of land. Wrong project, wrong place, wrong time. Furthermore, big box chain stores historically do not join local chambers, nor do they support local causes and charities. The small, locally owned stores do. However, if they did come to town, they would have been welcomed by me and the chamber just like we welcome all businesses. I spoke out against RMR as a private citizen and downtown business owner, not as the president of the Eagle Chamber of Commerce. I continuously made statements that I was not speaking out on behalf of the chamber, except for the times when I was speaking for those small, locally owned businesses that felt really threatened by any big box. The main issue was that we are currently undergoing a long-awaited (25-plus years!) $5 million renovation in our downtown, and most every downtown business owner thought that RMR would be detrimental to do concurrently with that renovation taking place. Our completion is not scheduled until 2007 – right when the big box would have opened. I care deeply about the issues facing this valley. I am willing to sit down with anyone on any issue and discuss it intelligently, even if we agree to disagree. I even told Merv several times to call me, that I would have coffee with him and talk about viable alternatives for RMR. He never took me up on that offer. Will you?Jan Rosenthal TownsendEagleCostly gasI have recently moved to the area and have been astonished at the prices of gasoline in Vail. Gas station owners claim that transportation costs and the high cost of real estate and labor lead to these overbearing prices. Higher gasoline prices help to control the amount that people drive, which is a great benefit to our environment, so I cannot stress enough that this argument is not about the right of people to endlessly drive their gas guzzlers all over the valley. But should hard-working locals really have to pay extra for gas because they live in the mountains AND swallow the lies of the greedy gas stations? Now, I applaud the gas stations for paying a competitive wage to their employees, and I do not doubt that their rents, real estate taxes, mortgages, etc, are quite high. But a quick calculation shows that for each 9,000 gallon tanker truck, on average, a Vail gas station will make about $3,600 more than a station in Denver, and that’s using conservative gas price estimates. If that tanker gets only 7 mpg (and again, this is a conservative estimate) and pays an average of the high price of $2.50 per gallon for diesel fuel, the truck’s round trip from Denver to Vail will cost around $70. I would love to know how the other costs justify the price gouging that occurs in the Vail Valley. Gas station owners, speak up. If you can fully justify how you charge as much as 40 cents more than even Frisco or Silverthorn, let alone Denver, I will stop complaining. Rachel FriedeVailVail, Colorado


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