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Letters to the Editor

Compiled by Vail Daily staff

Mountain mannersOnce again, another letter to the editor concerning another collision on Vail Mountain. This one, however, has a bit of a twist. Our friend and ski instructor Ken Zimmerman was proceeding with his class down under chair 4 when out of nowhere he was mowed down and left with a severely dislocated shoulder. The culprit wasnt an iPod-addled youth on a snowboard, but rather a guest, a gentleman in his upper 70s, who perhaps had taken a day off from assisted living to enjoy the speedy thrills available on Colorados newest answer to the roller derby, a.k.a. the front side of Vail mountain. This accident was due, I believe, in part to three major contributing factors. First, perfect pistes promote potentially perilous progression. The grooming on an already-easy slope encourages speed and lots of it. Gravity allows more and more chances for accidents and this isnt something new. It seems every year a number of Vail locals get flattened by errant day-ticket holders. Second, new ski design promotes easy turning, that is, if people learn how to turn in the first place. Dollar to a donut that the Grandpa Gomer who ended Zimmers season hadnt seen the inside of a ski lesson since Ike was fishing down on the Fraser River. Third, a real stunning lack of courtesy is being shown on the slopes lately. Case in point, Ive witnessed not one, but two fist fights at Vail this year. This aint the NHL its Americas No. 1 ski resort. John ElmendorfBoulder History lessonDo you remember the Iranian hostage crisis in November of 1979 when 66 American citizens were held prisoner in the United States embassy? Can we ever forget the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut during October of 1983 when 241 Marines were killed? Lets recall June of 1996 when 19 servicemen were killed in Saudi Arabia as the Khobar Towers was bombed. How about October 2000 when 19 sailors were killed and 40 more were wounded as the U.S.S. Cole was bombed while at harbor in Yemen? You may very well be concerned about those incidents, but Mr. Bush totally ignores them as he continues to strive for a permanent presence in Iraq. Civil war be damned, we can overcome sectarian violence, disregard the hatred towards us, full speed ahead! Build that billion-dollar embassy, plan for five military bases, we will have a presence in the Middle East!Unfortunately, our presidents idiotic desire ignores history and the obvious truth that our continued presence will never be accepted. The vast majority of the population in Iraq, and throughout the Muslim Middle East, want us to be gone. As far as theyre concerned, we are foreigners and infidels and occupiers; and furthermore, their religious beliefs tell them that our very presence on their land is a gross insult. Like it or not, history tells us that as long as Americans remain in Iraq, Americans will be killed.Bring our servicemen home now!David Le VineEagle moratorium? I am a second-home owner in Eagle who has been in the valley for more than a decade. I am frustrated by the debate over development of Eagle River Station, because it seems that we are not hearing the loud, clear voice of visionary leadership staking out the ground of what is in the best long-term interests of Eagle residents.It seems to me that the political leaders of Eagle have put us in a bind. By approving growth in residential development without the tax revenues or infrastructure assessments to fully support it, the town is now looking at a long-term structural deficit, and it gets worse with every new home approved and built. Since increases in residential property taxes to close this gap are not a viable or attractive option, the town is grasping for more revenue by considering a retail development that is completely out of scale and character to its history, quality of life and commitment to values of open space preservation. I am not anti-development, but this situation begs for intervention by the town leaders to stop the rush toward irrevocable changes until they have clearly laid out a balanced long-term plan for Eagle and sought the approval of the voters.First, Eagle should put in place a complete moratorium on approval of further residential development. This is not a suggestion to stop growth indefinitely, but a fervent request to stop it until we have been shown how it will impact our operating budget, traffic and congestion, the small businesses of our downtown, and the quality of life and open space trade-offs that can never be reversed. We need a balanced discussion that is not influenced by the desires of developers or contractors, but is centered on the citizens who live here and will be here long after the developers and builders are gone.Second, we need to see the debate on long-term planning encompass not only residential development and Eagle River Station, but downtown redevelopment, school district building issues, traffic and congestion management and water issues. How is it possible for a developer to talk about building an indoor water park in a retail shopping mall, when water is the lifeblood of our valley and the West? Are we going to simply let Eagle River Station take the water from others who currently use it? How is it possible to add thousands of cars daily to the traffic patterns of Eagle, when we already see backups and bumper-to-bumper crawls through town? The convenience of a nearby Gap or Barnes & Noble will seem far less attractive when it takes us 45 minutes to snake through the traffic lines to the new mall.Third, we need to engage in serious discussions with our neighbors in Gypsum about the retail development at the airport. We missed a historic opportunity to make the whole airport development part of Eagle. Still, there is a difficult debate about the costs and feasibility of an airport interchange from I-70. Is there a way for us to join Gypsum in long-term financing of such an interchange, in exchange for substantive sharing of the commercial tax revenues from the airport retail development? Could we combine those discussions with real attention to the re-development of downtown and the area surrounding the fairgrounds, with a goal of building a multi-faceted solution that will not sacrifice our quality of life and change the character of our valley forever?The proponents of Eagle River Station sing a beautiful sirens song of the benefits their plans will bring, and they smoothly minimize or deny completely the real negative implications of their project. We should remember that nobody is trying to take something from them. They bought a piece of agricultural land, got the town to annex it, and now want it re-zoned commercial. If we ultimately decide that we have to go down this road to make Eagle viable for the long-term, we deserve from our leaders a realistic assessment of the implications. We also need an aggressive push to make these developers give us what we deserve, through substantial downsizing of the project to reduce the impact on our quality of life, through elimination of water parks and trolleys that have no substantive connection to our wonderful home and will require direct takings of rights from our residents, and through a far more comprehensive and balanced resolution of traffic issues that will not leave us living a nightmare long after they have taken their profits and moved on.Our leaders have taken on the responsibility of caring for our future. It is time for us to insist that they live up to that obligation.Scott SchoenEagle


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