Land exchange urged
July 30, 2009
I do not need to be lectured at by the Pitkin County commissioners concerning open space.
Garfield County three times defeated development proposals at Sanders Ranch/Cattle Creek Crossing. Pitkin County has allowed the monstrosity that is Base Village in Snowmass. Garfield County residents are aggressively fighting oil and gas development in Thompson Creek and the Roan Plateau. Pitkin County allows its streams to be sucked up for snow-making so wealthy tourists can ski two weeks earlier.
I organized the open space ballot in Garfield County. Hundreds worked to get it passed, and thousands voted in favor. To deny the Sutey/Sopris exchange is to punish those residents in Garfield County who are open space, environmental advocates because of the votes of those who are not.
Unlike Sarah Palin, who can see Russia from her back yard, 99 percent of Pitkin County residents cannot see Mount Sopris. Those who can have not voiced opposition to the land exchange. And they are the ones who are most familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of the exchange. Pitkin County is not going to lose revenue as a result of the exchange. The Sutey property will be anesthetized from development, and the Sopris property will be put in a conservation easement.
It is a financial reality that Mr. Wexner will not donate, nor should he, the Sutey property. And it is a political reality that Garfield will not have an open space program anytime soon. However, Pitkin County’s decision should not be based on criticisms of the wealthy or political entities over which it has no control. The decision needs to be based on the benefits and detriments of the land exchange.
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Are the political leaders of the Roaring Fork Valley going to start making decisions based on the merits of a proposal? Or shall we continue to have turf wars where commissioners continue to refuse to cooperate based on the perception that the other has not done enough?
I urge the Pitkin County commissioners to recommend approval of the land exchange.