Monday, December 7, 2009

Archuleta County Commissioners, please reject Red McCombs proposal

Open Letter to the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners regarding Red McCombs current land grab scheme:

Here we go again. On one side we have “Red” McCombs who back in 1986 through shrewd manipulation of the golden rule wrestled Alberta Park away from the Rio Grande National Forest. Visit Friends Of Wolf to view their whitepaper for documentation. Also Mike Soraghan’s Denver Post article: “Wolf Creek develop-ment tangled with political ties” (2-5-6)

Now nearing 2010 McCombs wants to wrestle another more “advantageous” parcel away from the Forest Service > and environmental oversight toboot. For this plan to work he must enlist the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners as accomplices. It’s easy to understand what’s in it for the developer. But, why would Archuleta Commissioners stand behind and support such a boondoggle in the making? The potential for harm, to the Alberta Park watershed and to future county finances far outweigh the flimsy potential for a viable luxury village up at Wolf Creek Pass.

We are dealing with a man’s dream of taking that pristine high mountain watershed resource ~ part of the headwaters to the Rio Grande River ~ and turning it into a chunk of Real Estate and a Backlot for some fanciful Luxury Resort Village for eight or ten thousand wealthy vacationers. But, how many would actually want to live there year around?

This is at ten thousand feet elevation, just to the lee side of the Continental Divide at 11-12 thousand foot elevation? In an average winter thirty-six feet of snow will fall, with wind blown drifts that can bury homes. They can expect freezing temperatures eight months out of the year. The average wind speed is 11 mph, stormy weather brings 50 mph winds and when things get intense it’s a gale topping a hundred miles per hour. Is this an appropriate setting for a successful luxury town?

The Village at Wolf Creek is a dream born during the heady Reagan years when America convinced itself there were no limits on our expectation for ever greater luxuries. Haven’t we learned better? I sincerely wish Red McCombs and those of like mind would STOP and seriously look at how their blind compulsive grasping for ever more consumption is robbing our children’s future.

Look around at our economy, our commitments, and the flow of events. The dream of a Luxury Village of eight or ten thousand wealthy vacationers enjoying cold alpine weather conditions, belongs in a Hollywood movie... > Not perched on the edge of the Colorado Great Divide.

What about the vast operational expense$ and the infrastructure that must be maintained whether the homes are sold or not, lived in or empty? The town at ten thousand elevation will need well planned, faithfully executed civic infrastructure: police, medical facilities & personnel, schools(?), communications & IT infrastructure, providing & maintaining power utilities, street maintenance, water supply & sewer system maintenance through a long winter and deep blanket of snow. Oh and snow removal, just where will they put all that snow they need to scrap off the roads and roofs? Are they planning streets a hundred feet wide like in Silverton? The list goes on. Who will be picking up the tab?

What part of this plan is feasible? A developer’s smooth sales pitch and lubricating gold should not be enough to convince civic leaders to fall for such a chimera! Look at the lower elevation areas around Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado ~ they have a frightening saturation of unsold vacation homes, as documented in a Pagosa Sun article by James Robinson (7-8-9). Why add to the glut? Also see Mark Pearson’s (3-5-9) Durango Herald: “(Luxury) Resorts morph into “toxic” real estate assets.”

How is this going to work given the current economic prospects? Especially since the only purpose for this alpine Village at Wolf Creek is satisfying the dream fulfillment of rich people with too much money. Considering what’s happening in the financial world, even rich folks don’t have the loose change they used to. “If you build it, they will come” sounds great in the movies and ad campaigns but in the real world of flowing seasons and the 2010’s it rings mighty flat.

McCombs finds himself on the side of American thought that proclaims ‘Too Much Is Never Enough.’ This faith is coupled with an outlook that demands a ‘Full Speed Ahead With Eyes Glued To The Rear View Mirror’ mindset. This project is all about such 80/90’s thinking. We have seen time and again how this free wheeling self-certain focus on development at all costs, has saddled communities with precious resource, money, energy & time robbing obligations. Why allow this community to be led right into another such trap? Why invite an expensive destructive White Elephant into our community?

So, what about the other side? It represents a conservative perspective. It looks beyond grand fancies and short term profits and believes such irreplaceable biological gems as Alberta Park with it’s surrounding meadow and forest land is a precious biological resource and part of the national endowment that belongs to our younger generations. Akin to a national treasure or even a National Security Water Resource Area. It believes Red McCombs should do a truly patriotic thing and grant that land back to the American trust through some sort of conservation easement arrangement: “The Billy Joe ‘Red’ McCombs Fresh Water Biological Preserve” dedicated to all down stream kids yet to be born !

As representatives you have been entrusted with looking toward the future and the greater good. Truth be told in general representatives have too often failed we the people, in carrying out that mandate due to the golden rule.

Therefore, we the people stand before you powerless ~ yet, pleading for your better judgment to out shine your faith in economic notions that are proving to fail us when we need them most. Protect that productive natural resource up there at Alberta Park. Reject Red McCombs fanciful and dangerous notion of a new land grab. Reject the pipedream of bulldozing a luxury vacation town into the middle of that pristine biologically productive high mountain alpine watershed.
Please vote in favor of Leaving It Alone.

Sincerely, Peter Miesler ~ Durango, Colorado ~

{For the record I am unaffiliated with FWC or any other entity involved in this matter.
My allegiance is with Alberta Park... and that fantastic gem of a watershed. pm 12-7-9}
Thank you for the image of Alberta Park.

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