Vail Daily letter: Preserve Red Cliff
July 3, 2015
I live in Red Cliff, a quiet, small town nestled up in the mountain above Minturn. I return home at midnight from work and step out under a blanket of stars and hear the sound of creek and look down on a dark town with only the soft glow of light coming from a few homes. Far from the hustle and bustle of one of the largest ski resorts in North America, Red Cliff is a unique and cherished town for those who live here, a refuge from the bustle of the valley below.
I recently attended a town meeting to discuss a possible reversal of a decision the town made to allow another snowmobile/ATV, unguided business to set up shop here — a business where the owner says he will start with 30 snowmobiles, some ATVs, but will allow the market to dictate how many machines they will have. A small snowmobile company has already come into town and for the most part is supported by the community.
One by one, residents stood up and expressed both gratitude for the business and the benefits this company has had on the town of Red Cliff and also shared some concerns over negative impacts they have experienced as a result of it. We've learned from this experience that while we want to welcome new businesses into town, there are consequences and unseen impacts that often come with those decisions, and in moving forward with a vision for the town, we need to keep this in mind.
We were asked to share our experiences and concerns. We did.
At the end of the night, after we shared stories and fears of new and future impact of noise, public safety, garbage, air pollution and decreased enjoyment of walks with our dogs up Shrine Pass, the concerns and pleas for limiting the size of this particular business in our small town fell on deaf ears and eyes blinded by the almighty dollar sign.
Those who actually live here and desperately want to preserve the quality of life we have and the integrity of a small, quiet town where children play in the streets, residents sit out on their porches and in their gardens on Sunday afternoons listening to birds and watching elk on the hillsides went home knowing life in this town has just been degraded for the benefits of few. Coincidentally, the family of two board members just happen to own the only bar and hotel in town, who would financially benefit from this cancerous growth. No conflict of interest there.
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As for the small snowmobile business already here, they spoke outside the meeting expressing grave concerns that the competition of another exact same business will most likely put them under as well as thanked those of us who don't see in black and white. Bigger is not always better. Size does matter.
The Town Council seemed to completely miss the concept that while the town may support a small retail shop opening in a small community, a super Wal-Mart may not be such a great idea and may destroy quality of life and negatively affect the other small businesses that actually work. While one small entrepreneur bravely successfully opened a small business in town, the town can support that while rejecting the increased impact this type of business would have if it was to be supersized.
This was not some personal attack on someone who wants to provide a valuable service to a community desperately in need of financial support from small businesses. This is not a case of discrimination. It was simply an attempt to save a small town from becoming a playground to those who have no understanding or personal investment in what this town or its treasured lifestyle mean to those who live here.
We don't live here because we want or need street lights, paved roads or a bustling downtown. That's the vision of a few, who clearly sit on a board to push their personal agendas onto a community of those who just want to preserve a small, quiet, unique town with the tranquility so hard to find anymore.
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