Vail Daily letter: Open space, harrumph! |

Vail Daily letter: Open space, harrumph!

Duke Gerber
Vail, CO, Colorado

As a longstanding member of this community, I would like to voice my opinion in this editorial about some recent articles that mention the sale of the government property in Minturn referred to as the “Boneyard.”

First, a little about me: The “when did you move here?” question I am asked all the time does not apply to me. I am a third-generation local, not native, local.

My grandfather spent nearly one-third of his adult life in the service of the New Jersey Zink mine in Gilman.

My Uncle Jim graduated from high school at Battle Mountain High School in Red Cliff.

My father, John, graduated from Battle Mountain High School in Minturn, and I graduated from Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail.

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We have a family member who will be attending Battle Mountain at Miller Ranch if he keeps his grades up. That means you, J.S.!

We haven’t been around. We’ve been here!

We as a family detest the phrase “Vail Valley.” You show me a Vail River in Eagle County and I will use the term “Vail Valley” correctly.

Now to the point: the articles in this paper have referred to the bidding war over the “Boneyard” in Minturn as another great victory of the Eagle County open space tax. I beg to differ!

For those who don’t know Minturn, it is a small town located a couple miles west of Vail.

Like Red Cliff to the south and Eagle to the west, it has been incorporated for over 100 years, compared to Vail’s 50. Minturn is flanked on the east by Two Elk Creek, Game Creek and Lion’s Head, all public land and open space.

To the west is Cross Creek, thousands of acres of land designated undevelopable because it is in the Holy Cross Wilderness and also Grouse Creek, very nice and accessible Forest Service land.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a horse in this race. A new park in Minturn, small commercial space or a couple of houses all seem suitable for this piece of land the “Boneyard.”

The problem I have is with the open space tax. Wasting $1.68 million (latest bid) of taxpayer money to purchase a measly 4 acres of open space in a town surrounded by open space seems ludicrous. Really?

It seems obvious that Eagle County’s elected officials regard millions as leisurely as Obama regards trillions.

We would all love to spend someone else’s money, but at some point we must ask, “Really?”

There’s that multi-million dollar courthouse expansion. If we really needed it, don’t you think we would be using it? Please tell me that I am not the only taxpaying citizen of this county who thinks that if the government, be it local, is going to take money from the people in the form of taxes, that this fine should be put to better use.

If the county is going to excessively tax the public and spend it willly-nilly, shouldn’t it go to a good cause? Aren’t our schools failing? Isn’t there a lack in funding for college? Isn’t there funding needed to help the mentally ill so we can prevent another Columbine, Newtown, Virginia Tech or Aurora Theater?

Millions were spent on Bair Ranch as open space. Name me one person in this county who has been able to hunt, fish or hike on the Bair Ranch as a result of this “purchase”? But as taxpayers we spent millions, may I suggest wasted millions? To what end, I don’t know.

It is not a crime to ask your elected officials to justify their actions. It is your duty as a God-fearing American to require them to justify their actions, it is your money after all!

The consensus is that Washington is broken, but I beg of you to study what our county is doing with the tax revenue it receives, and you may realize the problem is much closer to home.

A concerned, taxpaying member of the Eagle Valley!

Duke Gerber

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