Letter: Ashamed to be a resident of Eagle County
I am writing you from isolation, kept away from my wife and children, due to my prolonged exposure to a friend who lives in Vail and now clings to life on a ventilator in a Denver ICU.
I am beside myself, and it isn’t because of my friend’s prognosis or my current situation, but because of the way the Eagle County has responded to the question of what to do with seasonal workers in employee housing. I am sickened by the narrow and selfish perspective our leaders have taken in working with Vail Resorts to send them away.
We have a situation where hundreds of young people are being strong-armed to leave their homes and go to another part of the country or even to another part of the world within 10 days. During normal times this would be objectionable and, were these actual leases instead of some shady gray area, it would also be illegal. Officials have thrown people into the streets who have no place to go, many of whom don’t even have a solid grasp on the local language. They are sleeping in their cars and on couches. I should know as I have one that moved into my guest room.
What makes this beyond objectionable and into immoral territory is that a vast majority of these people have been exposed to COVID-19 and are likely carriers. They were in a safe place to stay put as recommended by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Thanks to the pressure applied by Vail Resorts and Eagle County they are dispersing throughout our community, car camping and couch surfing, to small towns that had little to no exposure to the virus around the country, and to parts of the world that do not have modern medical infrastructure. It is very likely that this decision will lead to many deaths, it will certainly lead to thousands more people being exposed to the virus than would have otherwise. Does that represent you, fellow citizens? I sure don’t want my name attached to it.
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The county claims that seasonal workers aren’t really residents but merely visitors. Lets put aside the fact that many people in seasonal housing units actually stay for 18-24 months doing back-to-back work. Even if they are only here for the winter they still are required to get a Colorado driver’s license, register their car, serve on juries, vote in elections, and pay our taxes. If they’re not residents, what are they? Does the state have the same expectations of second-home owners who only stay for one season or another?
As leaders of a compassionate and caring community, the county commissioners had the opportunity to do the right thing for both the workers we rely on and for the rest of the world who sends us the tourists that make our economy function. They failed to do so. They have not represented the people of Eagle County. I completely understand that there are times when you have to make difficult and unpopular decisions, but this wasn’t one of them. The difficult and right thing to do would have been to stand up to Vail Resorts and told its leaders to do the right thing themselves.
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