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Activists learn democracy doesn’t always move fast

Foes of a government office building at the Mount Sopris Tree Farm scored a minor victory Tuesday night despite getting stonewalled by the Eagle County Commissioners.

After enduring a 55-mile bus ride and a two-and-a-half-hour wait outside the county commissioners’ meeting room, about 40 midvalley residents got their elected officials to grant a simple wish.

The commissioners agreed to come to Basalt March 15 to hold a hearing on whether or not they should build a 15,000-square-foot government office building and community center at the tree farm in El Jebel. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at a location to be determined.

About 40 residents of Basalt and El Jebel made the trip Tuesday to lobby against the proposal, but the meeting resulted in the political equivalent of a baseball game rainout. The crowd didn’t get before the commissioners until after 8 p.m., even though the meeting was scheduled at 5:30 p.m.

Eagle County Commission Chairman Tom Stone said the delay couldn’t be helped because the board was considering other matters. It shouldn’t be construed as a snub, he said.

“That was not an attempt to send any message,” said Stone.

Neither Stone nor Commissioner Mike Gallagher apologized for the delay, but Commissioner Arn Menconi thanked the audience for coming over and waiting.

The crowd ultimately got what it came for – getting the meeting moved to the mid-Roaring Fork Valley. But some audience members were angry it took a two-and-a-half-hour wait to accomplish the goal. The Basalt Town Council and a citizen petition signed by 200 midvalley residents sought the same result two weeks ago, but the commissioners didn’t respond.

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Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2001


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