Letter: County to Windstar hikers and equestrians: We don’t care
After reaping praise for their promise to the community to maintain access to Windstar’s storied nature preserve, the county has backed out of purchasing the property that would have provided the critical public parking for Windstar visitors. While there is an easement once you are inside that allows you to walk into Windstar, there is no public parking for miles, effectively taking it out of reach to the public.
The owner, a Windstar devotee, deliberately did not sell to a private buyer because he wanted to preserve access to “John Denver’s gift to us.” The county’s “money-saving” decision, he said, “is like appraising a painting based on the costs of the canvas and oil paints.” Furthermore, he pointed out, the county’s $500,000-plus investment in the Windstar 927-acre nature conservation easement (which is worth $8 million-plus now) is now thrown away “because what good is a public nature preserve for hiking and riding if your only access is to parachute in?”
If they argue about appraisals, remind them that the Smuggler trail was appraised for $7 million and the County bought it for $14 million. The county is not bound by appraisals. Dale Will of Open Space and Trails (a Windstar alumnus) did his best to portray what was at stake, and what would be lost, to no avail.
This is a case of being pennywise and pound foolish and missing the bigger picture. The “Windstar nation” of John Denver’s hikers, riders and nature devotees have just been given a giant “no trespassing” notice from the Pitkin County commissioners.
Well played, public servants, well played!
Perhaps with the taxpayer dollars the county saved by not buying the nearby property for easy access to Windstar, it can purchase a small fleet of Segways to whisk hikers and equestrians (and their horses) the 2 miles from the Conoco parking lot via Snowmass Creek Road (in traffic) to the Windstar Nature preserve. Oh, I forgot. No parking at Windstar. Never mind.