Lodge owner: Cordillera Lodge argument is about addiction, nothing more (column)
Editor’s note: This column was submitted in response to Thomas Wilner’s Saturday, Aug. 26, column, “Vail ruling on notification rights for property owners gets it right.” Find a cited version of this column at http://www.vaildaily.com.
Mr. Wilner would like to have readers believe that the Cordillera opposition to the conversion of The Lodge to an addiction-treatment facility is not typical “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) behavior; we beg to differ. These emails are just a few of more than 50 that Cordillera homeowners who are opposed to this facility wrote to the Eagle County Commissioners:
“The idea of raising my young children in a community where recovering opiate addicts are living so close, dining in my favorite restaurants, shopping in my same grocery stores, buying their morning coffee at my Starbucks and driving the streets of my neighborhoods deeply concerns me. I am immediately concerned for my young childrens’ (sic.) safety. Clinics like this attract predators who prey on those suffering from addiction, bringing crime and unrest to our community …”
“The presence of such a facility in our community would be poisonous to the essential values of the community by introducing a population destructive to our neighborhood’s peace of mind, real estate values and carefully cultivated reputation. No longer would my grandchildren be allowed to play outside unguarded, my doors be left unlocked, my burglar alarm inactivated or my firearms not at hand. The population enrolled at this facility, and the always present predators accompanying this population, are precisely the population we attempted to avoid by investing in the heretofore Cordillera lifestyle.”
“This is insane. How can this be? Yes, the loss of The Lodge will impact our lifestyle but turning it into a Drug Treatment Center will negatively impact our life even more significantly. I will no longer feel safe, I will no longer leave my doors unlocked, and I will no longer hike alone with my dog, as I will be fearful that a drug addict may be lurking around. I am scared. … This will ruin our Paradise.”
Mr. Wilner would also like for people to believe the community was not involved in or aware of the changes made to the PUD back in 2009. But that isn’t a fact, either. In truth, the Cordillera Property Owners Association gave redline edits to the very language that was adopted by the county. Their claims that the PUD changes made in 2009 were improper only came about when an addiction-treatment facility chose to open its doors in the community.
If Mr. Wilner had told the whole story, then he would have mentioned that in 2009, Cordillera specifically added language into the PUD that allows a cosmetic surgery center where patients could have surgeries in the clinic and then recover post-surgery in The Lodge rooms. So, in their minds, you could have a clinic that performs surgeries on-site and patients can recover in Lodge rooms; however, they are adamant that people recovering in their rooms following a day of counseling and talk therapy in a clinic is not allowed. Does that make any sense to you?
Addiction is a chronic disease. When we think about other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, we all understand that it is a chronic disease. Diabetes must be monitored and treated daily, but it is treatable. Addiction is also treatable; however, the stigma that we place on it creates huge barriers to treatment for those suffering from this disease.
Imagine if we treated those suffering from cancer, another chronic disease, the way that we treat those suffering from addiction? The stigmatization of addiction needs to end. Addiction has no boundaries; it crosses over all socioeconomic borders, and no one community is unaffected from this disease, including Cordillera. If Mr. Wilner didn’t believe that this was about addiction, why does he continue to bring it up?
Mr. Wilner and others who are involved in his “Committee to Preserve Community Access to The Lodge” have changed their claims about why we should not be able to operate this facility so many times it is difficult to keep up. The Cordillera Metropolitan District and Property Owners Association have spent nearly $500,000 trying to keep us out of the Cordillera community. Mr. Wilner would like for you to believe that this has nothing to do with them being opposed to the treatment of people suffering from addiction, when in fact that is the only thing that this is about.
We believe the opposition understands that they have violated the American Disabilities Act and Federal Fair Housing Laws, and we fully intend to enforce those claims, at the appropriate time. But right now, we have a treatment facility to open — and the need is urgent. In this country, more people died in a single year from this disease than died in the entire Vietnam War, which was more than 15 years long. Eagle County is reported as the highest binge-drinking rate in the country, and Colorado is reported to have the third-highest drug problem of any state.
We will be good neighbors; we will invest in the community and bring in amenities for our clients, as well as members of the community. Amenities that are rooted in health and wellness: yoga, Pilates and other fitness programs. Our patients suffer from a chronic disease; they are not horrible criminals, as many people want you to believe. They are people who have fallen victim to a health epidemic our country is facing.
The Lodge will be a place for them to find solace and safe, innovative treatment. Contrary to Mr. Wilner’s words, The Lodge will be open to anyone who seeks to get help there, including the residents of Cordillera. But please don’t let any of Mr. Wilners words fool you: Addiction is what this is about; it is all this is about.
Noah Nordheimer is the managing member of CSMN Investments, which is the owner of The Lodge at Cordillera. Nordheimer is also the president of the management company CCG Management, which will manage day-to-day operations at The Lodge. To contact Nordheimer or members of his team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.