Vail columns: Carnes –I like this proposal for open space |

Vail columns: Carnes –I like this proposal for open space

VAIL, Colorado – Doing a quick search for “open space” directly from the Eagle County Home Page returns the following:

“We searched Eagle County for: ‘open space’

We’re sorry, there are no results that match your search criteria.”

Oh, delicious irony, why do you come in so many titillating flavors?

Go ahead, try the search yourself, with quotes around both words. Until they change it, which any governmental agency with the slightest sliver of dignity would quickly do, you’ll get the same results.

Trust me, it’s a matter of principle (and timing).

Don’t get me wrong. I am as much a fan of open space as anyone and truly enjoy swinging a dead cat without hitting a single soul whenever possible. Coming out against it is akin to saying one is against oxygen and, except for my ex-wife, have yet to meet anyone who could live without that particular element.

Anyway, I’ll never forget reading an article in the Vail Daily about 25 years ago that announced Vail (proper, from East Vail to almost Dowd Junction) was 92 percent built out, meaning we only had 8 percent more developable land to “improve” before it would be time to roll up the welcome mat and celebrate our collective completion as a town.

Lo and behold, a quarter of a century later, there has been more Vail construction in the past few years than downtown Dubai (Solaris, anyone?).

It seems we never bothered to take into account the possibility of anything ever having to be rebuilt.

I also remember when a group of local taxing authorities came together, led boldly by the town of Vail, to purchase and hold the Berry Creek 5th Filing until something “smart” could be decided by the powers that be with that particular large chuck of valley floor land.

Employee housing, employer housing, open space, ice hockey rink, water treatment plant and even a full 18-hole golf course were considered and then summarily tossed aside before one entity sold to another, and then another, and so on, until we finally arrived with the ball fields, skate park, somewhat affordable housing, four schools and outdoor bidets for children that we have there today.

Initial plans rarely come to fruition.

Which brings me to the brilliant suggestion by David Williams (of fame) of looking into the possibility of saving the soon-to-be-defunct Ginn property from future development. (Brightwater, anyone?)

Instead of wasting our tax dollars on land no one will ever see or, in most cases, ever be able to even access (Bair Ranch, anyone?), why not take advantage of the massive land devaluations about to occur in Eagle County (see: 2010 property tax valuations for further details) and use that money to purchase what amounts to basically most of the land between Blue Sky Basin and Minturn?

Besides a few, very select, ruffled feathers in Minturn and a developer desperately trying to keep his head above water in South Florida, who’s going to get hurt in the process?

As my friend Bubba says, “It don’t get more ‘open’ than those spaces up around there.”

Something to think about.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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