It’s locally vogue to verbally trash San Miguel Valley Corp.’s Neal Blue. Why is that? Because he wouldn’t donate the 572 acres the Town of Telluride just wrestled away from him to the Town? Because he had differing development ideas for this prime piece of Telluride property than does the TOT? (Development is a key word here.) Because he took a strong private property rights/anti-condemnation position on land he bought fair and square?
Let’s be fair and honest here. Over the years Mr. Blue floated various development plans for the Valley Floor, thankfully all vociferously opposed, officially or unofficially, by the TOT or by at least a substantial number of individuals living there. In each instance Mr. Blue did not initiate court action to force some kind of development resolution. Is there any redeeming social value in that inaction to Mr. Blue? As in a letter of thanks; apologies no longer being applicable. How many owners would sit on a piece of prime development land in the Telluride region, where real estate is so expensive it tends to be sold by the square foot, for some 26 years? None that I know and I doubt if you know any either.
OK, the TOT won in a case that sets a very disturbing precedent in the State of Colorado. It’s now recreation open season and many other uses imagined and unimagined that are going to be put on the table in the years to come for the Valley Floor. I initially supported the action by the TOT, until, through pragmatic observations and obvious intentions I came to realize the impending “conservation easement” most likely won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. One very important TOT elected official recently told me as much in so many words; “I don’t think we paid $50 million for that piece of property to let it just sit there.”
Where is the Sheep Mountain Alliance, supposedly an environmental watchdog organization, on the issue of protecting the Valley Floor from human incursion ruination: Proactive or silence of the lambs? Are they going to insist on an absolute environmental protection so-called “conservation easement” or gleefully endorse the prevailing recreation expectations? How much “conservation,” which, incidentally, is not the same overall philosophy as environmental protection, will the San Miguel Nature Conservancy capitulate to the TOT?
Everybody and his dog are ecstatic about this new-found and now official canine-and-irresponsible-dog-owner playground. A year ago, when Mr. Blue opened up public usage of his Valley Floor property, dogs supposedly were not allowed. Did any other than a pathetic few dog owners respect that rule and did the TOT make any attempt to stop the dog abuse on the valley floor? The answer is no in both cases. So what else is new, other than a proposal to build a dog park in Telluride’s new-found $50 million recreation bonanza? Why build a designated so-called dog park when the entire south side of the boondoggle spur is now basically one giant dog-gone disgusting disillusionment?
My final comment on this issue is to suggest to the Evergreen, Colo. consultants that the town has just hired to come up with environmental evaluations that the first item they ought to tackle is a precise definition of the term “open space.” Does anyone think this group will provide a report detrimental to the recreational ambitions and associated fantasies (development) running wild through the minds of about 90 percent of the people living in the immediate greater metropolitan sprawl region? Isn’t consulting mostly about finding a method to justify the means?
Now, on to that other proven issue of horrendous government failure, the boondoggle spur, or as it’s more famously known, that approximately four-mile portion of highway 145 from the Idarado Mine to Society that the State of Colorado “gifted” to the TOT along with $3 million to take it off their hands. You know, that portion of highway that the TOT urgently needs $13 million or so to immediately fix. You know, that portion of highway that the TOT will now plow, pave and police forever, with incurred ownership costs that will soon be approaching $30 million for the items just mentioned. Taking this highway off the state’s hands has to be the biggest mistake the TOT government has made in its entire history by far.
One must ask: How could such a colossal blunder be made? Couldn’t a wary populace see this glaring mistake and nix the deal? The answer to the first question is easy because the answer is just that: easy. The answer to the second question is that people put too much faith in government and are too busy with their own agendas to think about important issues such as this constructively or are too busy working and/or recreating to be bothered by such trivial issues turned horrendous mistake.
The Valley Floor just cost $50 million plus several million dollars more in attorney fees and incidentals…so far; $25 million of which was raised through private donations. The boondoggle spur has cost upwards of probably something like $20 million up to now and counting. Is the purchase of the Valley Floor and its coming development destined to be as big a mistake as was that of acquiring the boondoggle spur? Nobody thinks so at this time, but I remind you that the theory behind acquiring the spur has proven to be four miles of pothole saturated hell paved with good intentions. Baby, given how governments, particularly how those in a recreation-demanding regions operate, the so-called development-oriented “conservation easement” to “save” the Valley Floor is languishing as a misnomer fiasco in the womb.