Maybe that's why its fate has been a top news story in Telluride for the past six or eight years.
The Valley Floor clearly has symbolic meaning far greater than its 840 acres, beautiful though they are. Why else would the region's politics be so thoroughly dominated by its fate?
What if the Valley Floor wasn't there – at least not in its current undeveloped state? What if it got developed? Would that change Telluride unalterably? A majority of town residents clearly believe that it would, and not for the better, and so they have given their strong support in a number of referendums directing town government to proceed with a process aimed at preserving the property by acquiring it, exercising the town's powers of eminent domain.
That legal case pitting the town against an extremely wealthy landowner who has vowed to use all legal means available to prevent the forced sale of its property is now formally underway.
Whether the town wins or loses its court battle, this has been the story that has defined Telluride for the past few years, and will likely define it for the next few, as well. To win the condemnation case will commit the town to vast spending on open space protection. Some worry that it's more than the town can afford to pay. Winning would also leave questions about the future of land owned by the San Miguel Valley Corp. that is not part of the condemnation. On the other hand, to lose may set the table for future development of the property.
The legal maneuvers surrounding the Valley Floor came fast and furious this year, and constitute The Telluride Watch's number one news story of the year.
Other stories in this year's top ten local news stories are mostly economic in nature: to build or not to build a hotel in Mountain Village, to rebuild or not to rebuild the runway at the Telluride Regional Airport, to upgrade or not to upgrade a power line. The region saw two major new amenities open. Real estate took off, after a slump of a couple of years; tourism seems mired in a perennial slump. Can the new owners at Telski turn that around?
The November election once again showed San Miguel County to be an island of Blue in a sea of Red.
The last story on the list is a foreshadow of what's to come. We'll be spilling a lot of ink in the next year or two as the Town of Telluride rebuilds the Hwy. 145 Spur, necessary work that will inconvenience literally every Telluride local and every Telluride visitor. So, too, voters next year may be asked to fund a major new municipal water system. Thinking long term, water, surely, is the number one story not just of the past century but of the next one in the ever arid West.
1. Legal Maneuvers in the
War for the Floor
2. Voters Uphold Mountain Village Hotel Approval, Twice
3 Real Estate Booms, Again, But Tourism Struggles
4. Telluride Opens Two Major New Facilities: A Theatre and an Ice Rink
5. Airport Wins Approval for Runway Improvements
6. Ophir Avalanche Demon-strates Region's Vulnerabil-ity to Power Outage
7. Montrose Airplane
Crash Kills Three
8. Voters Return
Goodtimes for a Third Term, an Unopposed Fischer for a Second
9. New Ownership Takes Com-mand of Telski