Time to save some space
During my nomadic early days in Vail, surfing couches and moving every ski season in pursuit of the optimal place to store my skis and pass out after the bars closed, I voted wantonly for any tax increase.A good tax-and-spend liberal and a journalist to boot, I’ve voted for numerous sales, lodging and especially property tax increases over the years most of which have gone down in flames in fiscally conservative Eagle County. But what the hell did I care? I was renting.Now I own a home. And have a son. And I freak out every time my tax bill comes from the county.Fourteen bucks for every $100,000 in assessed property value (the amount being requested to fund the acquisition of open space) doesn’t seem like a lot maybe another $45 a year.But that’s cash that could go into my son’s college fund, pay off some debt, buy my wife some flowers or, better yet, be blown in a local restaurant on a single entre.I guess I’ve grown up, at least a little bit, and I’ve come to realize there are consequences to my reckless tax-hiking ways of the past.All of that said, though, I’m still voting yes on referendum 1H, which could be viewed as less of an endorsement and more of a kiss of death in some circles.Yes, we’re surrounded by enormous tracts of open space in the form of wilderness areas, National Forest and BLM land, but people want elbow room where they live on the valley floors.If we build on every square foot on either side of I-70 and as far up the surrounding drainages as we can, without setting aside some buffer zones between communities and places to escape right out our front doors, we’re going to wind up with a visual nightmare that will put us at a competitive disadvantage with other resorts areas.Some would say it’s too late. Far-flung ski areas like Crested Butte are already using ads to poke fun at our suburban retirement community ambiance.But for all the big-box stores springing up in the mid-valley, there are still some wide-open spaces between Edwards and Eagle, the first 20 minutes of anyone’s drive who flies into Eagle County Airport.That view can hopefully be preserved somewhat for when my son makes that drive 20 years from now on a trip back home from college for a little skiing and hiking in the woods.
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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.