Vote Gustafson, Buckley |

Vote Gustafson, Buckley

Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on open space in Eagle County. Are you happy with the choices?

Since the open space tax was approved by a very narrow margin (51 votes) in 2002. The Democratic Board of Commissioners have spent $2 million on a conservation easement on the Bair Ranch at the mouth of Glenwood Canyon, $1.925 million on a conservation easement on the McNulty Ranch in the Roaring Fork Valley, $1.75 million for a conservation easement on the 32 acres surrounding the Basalt sewage lagoon, and (my personal “favorite”) $2.1 million for a conservation easement of the Gates Ranch in Burns.

In addition to the millions of taxpayer dollars, these folks also received hundreds of thousand of dollars in Colorado state “tax credits” to either use to pay for future tax debt to sell to someone else to use to pay future tax debt. Conservation easements leave ownership of the land with the rancher or landowner and remove the possibility of development. These easements provide “zero” public access. You cannot hike or picnic or walk your dog. A lot of the land covered by these easements is not suitable for development in the first place. Clearly, these easements provide little, if any, public benefit to the Eagle County taxpayer.

To say the least, some of these easements had highly questionable appraisals. The Open Space Advisory Committee recommended to the commissioners that there be a second, independent appraisal on the Gates Ranch, but that recommendation was ignored by a Board of Commissioners that has a well-earned reputation for not listening. The Board of Commissioners did donate $6 million to the purchase of the Eaton Ranch gravel pit in Edwards. It was intended to be a public park, however, and it is a disgrace to call it a park in its present condition. It is still only a used-up gravel pit. See for yourself, visit and look at the pictures of the “Edwards Gravel Pit Preserve.”

If you believe, as I do, that millions of our tax dollars have been misused, wasted and spent for the benefit of a few, at the expense of many, please join me in voting for a new, common sense majority for the Board of County Commissioners. Vote for Debbie Buckley and Dick Gustafson on Nov. 4.

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