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Letters to Editor

Nightmare

Dear Editor:

Pagosa Springs residents should know that the Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a very little publicized public meeting on Wednesday, March 30, at 5:30 p.m. at the County Extension Office. The purpose of this meeting is to hear a Concept Plan presentation by the developers of Square Top Ranch. Square Top Ranch is located in the Upper Blanco Basin amidst some of the most outstandingly beautiful scenery in Archuleta County. The plan, put forth by the developers, is to add 225 new homesites to this pristine area.

In their Concept Plan, the developers tout what a boon this will be to Archuleta County as these will all be “second homes.” With almost 500 homes currently on the market, and another 100 expected to come on soon due to foreclosures, this represents a 37-month supply of homes and 87-month land inventory. Average sale prices have been falling each year. And promoting new second homes is not — as The SUN has noted in previous articles — a formula for long-term economic stability, bringing no industry or long-term jobs to the area.

Even if not one lot was sold for this proposed development, I urge you to consider the almost irreversible damage that will be done by ripping up this important wildlife habitat to construct roads, ponds, and utility lines. A once beautiful asset to our county will become just another development nightmare designed to do nothing other than put money into pockets that are already stuffed too full.

The most reprehensible action by the BoCC is that this meeting has been scheduled at a time when most Upper Blanco property owners are not here for the summer and gives them no opportunity to voice their opposition to this egregious insult to everything Upper Blanco property owners have fought to protect over the last 100 years.

I urge you, as members of our community, to be at this meeting and let your voice be heard. We want to keep the beauty of our area intact and we are sick of greedy developers who make a quick buck and then move on to other lucrative prospects at the cost of all of us who are left behind.

Sincerely,

Mary K. Carpenter

Water rates

Dear Editor:

In January 2011, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) raised water rates, which is not surprising. What is surprising is how little they were raised. In these difficult financial times, it is hard to swallow even a modest 12 percent monthly increase. So often we get wrapped up in our own struggles that it is easy to forget how the other half live. Each year, March 22 marks World Water Day which seeks to raise awareness of global water issues. Although the actual day has passed, the problem is far from gone.

According to the United Nations (UN), 27 percent of urban residents in the developing world do not have piped water in their homes. Every second the urban population increases by two people. Worldwide 884 million people do not have access to safe, reliable drinking water and 2.6 billion have limited or no access to adequate sanitation facilities. Because of this lack of water/wastewater infrastructure, the poor pay more as they tend to live in sprawling informal settlements that lay beyond the pipes. In Nairobi, an individual living in an informal settlement pays five to seven times more for a gallon of water than the average US resident. Every 20 seconds a child dies from water related illness.

We are blessed to live in a place where our essential needs are cared for unquestioningly for a small monthly fee. God help us should ethnocentrism cause us to forget the needs of others, both here at home and abroad. It’s a big world out there and we are all in this together.

Mat deGraaf

Public servant

Dear Editor:

I was saddened to hear of the resignation of John Ranson as county commissioner.

John, as a volunteer on the task force, was a beacon of light during Archuleta County’s dark days. John had a vision during the early days of the recession and offered hope of a light at the end of the tunnel.

As an ex-teacher of government, I am aware of a term that you don’t hear often anymore and young readers may not be familiar with it. The term is public servant.

John was a public servant and a dedicated one. I hope his stepping forward during hard times will prompt other good men and women to step forward and offer their talents and serve Archuleta County.

Thank you, John.

Gary Gray

Too bad

Dear Editor:

Three years ago this month I met Steve Vassallo. I am a dean at a major research university in New Orleans and Mr. Vassallo contacted me hoping that I would consider opening a satellite campus in Madison, Miss. (200 miles away), where he served at the economic development officer. It took a year, but I was finally convinced. Madison, Miss., is a very unusual town. It enjoys a dynamic and forward-looking mayor who decided to employ the services of Mr. Vassallo more than a decade ago. Today, Madison is ranked by a national magazine as one of the Top 10 cities in the United States in which to raise a family. By yet another national magazine it is ranked as one of the Top 10 cites in the United States in which to retire. Mr. Vassallo played a central role in the recruitment of major businesses and corporations to the town of Madison. For all stakeholders in economic development patience is vital. For Madison, the patience has paid off. Today, Madison beats the U.S. national average in four very important categories: 1) percent per capita of high school graduates; 2) percent per capita of college graduates; 3) median household income; and 4) percent of married households. Its public high school is recognized as one of the Top 50 public high schools in the United States. All of these achievements were not accomplished overnight; they took time. A constant throughout this magnificent growth and development was the dedication, vision, and tireless efforts of Steve Vassallo.

I am also no stranger to Pagosa Springs or Wolf Creek. Each year, I travel to your lovely community to enjoy the warm hospitality of your citizens and the welcoming powder of Wolf Creek. Days before Mr. Vassallo resigned, I visited him and his wife in Pagosa Springs. Steve managed to spend some “down” time with me, but he never stopped answering his phone or promoting upcoming events. Saturday and Sunday were just as much workdays for his as any other days of the week. I am not sure I have ever seen Steve “relaxed;” he is a multi-tasker of the highest degree. An economic development officer cannot function like a bank officer, it is not a 9-5 job. One does not turn off the economic development thought process. Every idea is not a great one or even a good one. However, the more ideas one has, the greater the likelihood that one turns out to be great.

Maybe a Golden Retriever “Convention” is not a good idea, but then again, maybe it is a great idea. Maybe the Nashville connection that has been criticized would have led to new exposure for Pagosa Springs. Then again, it could have been a total dud. Remember the “thousand points of light?” Mr. Vassallo was never the enemy. You never allowed him the time he deserved to be evaluated and fairly criticized. Too bad for Pagosa Springs.

Richard Marksbury

New Orleans, La.

Amateurish

Dear Editor:

Wondering about all the fuss over the PSCDC I visited the official website. Surely our own local website developers can match Bone Marketing when it comes to amateurish work. I winced, I winced, I winced. The Bone built site is saying in so many different ways, “We are a bunch of aspiring rubes! Come see for yourselves!”

Please, let’s keep our tax money out of ill-considered, ill-begotten, ill-wrought exercises in tasteless boosterism like this. If our local business people think this is a good idea, let them do it on their own dime.

Jim Milstein

Unselfish

Dear Editor:

Just wanted to give a big thanks to Davey Pitcher and Wolf Creek Ski Area.

As spring approaches, the boating community is super excited about the new “play features” recently completed on the San Juan river through town.

I have heard some misguided rumbling in the community something to the effect of “why is the town dumping all this money into this project?”

Just to set the record straight, Davey Pitcher provided the machinery (three trackhoes, hammer, etc.) as well as the operators during this project. Davey also hauled the rock in (from pass construction several years ago) necessary for the building of the features, provided pumps, all at his cost ... not taxpayers.

This project would not have happened without Davey’s contribution,

It’s nice to see business unselfishly investing in the local economy, and locals can’t help but notice the huge increase in activity in the town stretch of river.

Thanks again, Davey.

Kelly Ralston

Beautiful

Dear Editor:

The Colorado Kids 4-H Club has been picking up trash along U.S. 84 as a community service project for the past eleven years.

This past Sunday our club got together once again to clear the route of trash. As a club we would like to thank the community for keeping the route the cleanest it has been in the past eleven years.

Usually we can pick up loads of trash, but this past clean-up there were only nine bags.

Thank you again to the community for keeping Pagosa beautiful!

Gwen Ray and the Colorado Kids 4-H Club

Not Aspen

Dear Editor:

As residents on the Upper Blanco Basin Road off U.S. 84 south of Pagosa, my wife and I moved here to get away from the city, pollution, crime, traffic and other unpleasant and dangerous aspects of urban living. We enjoy the quietness, wildlife and natural benefits of living in close proximity with nature.

A group of developers bought the Square Top Ranch above us and want to develop it, which would eventually destroy the pristine beauty of the Upper Blanco. Basically outsiders with no deep appreciation for the area or knowledge of the history or of what it means to live in snow country and in harmony with nature, they are greedy men simply motivated by money.

RPI Consulting is the firm hired by them to get their plans approved. In May 2007 an Archuleta County Planning Commission meeting was held in which they tried to get a proposal passed to build 325 homes on the 1,700 acre Ranch. One of the largest turnouts in the history of the commission attended, with people spilling outside the doors to listen. The group was sent back to the drawing board, in spite of the dangling carrot they offered of all the monies to be infused into the community from their development. In large part, the local newspapers never reported on it.

A meeting scheduled for this March 30 is proposing a revised plan with 225 homes, a number still in opposition to the county Master Plan. RPI Consulting has done a study, the Economic Effects and Public Sector Cost-Benefit Study, which presents the so-called positive reasons to go ahead with their plan. They have sent a letter to local builders and contractors to come support them; they ask for only “friendly” people to attend. The residents of the Upper Blanco have not been invited. Many of the concerns of the Planning Commission set forth in 2007 are not addressed in the study nor are any detrimental effects of the project mentioned.

The water, of great concern, must support 225 homes plus horses at the equestrian center. Besides water, what of the effects of a large septic system, of the effects of this project on wildlife migration, of the many hunters whose favorite place to hunt is near that ranch. They camp out on the Blanco, buy gas, food, supplies, go to the hot springs, buy lumber to repair their cabins. It’s clear the hunters alone put a tremendous amount of money into this community.

An analogy put forth by the consulting firm is that we’re like Aspen. We are nothing like Aspen. These people need to stick to the truth instead of twisting things to suit their greed. They would change this part of Pagosa Country forever. It could never be put back the way it was. The traffic and noise during construction and afterwards will ruin the serenity of this little bit of untouched country. There are far too few places left on this planet that haven’t been ruined by man’s footprint. This project should be again sent back to the drawing board.

Respectfully,

Richard and Lynne Wooldridge

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