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When an expert speaks, do you listen?

So many experts.

Which one do you listen to?

When you listen, does it make a difference? When you hear something contrary to your opinion, do you go out and find an “expert” who supports your point of view, so you can proceed along a path you’ve convinced yourself is right?

The topic of proposed developments on Reservoir Hill remains hot, with proponents pushing to have a ski lift installed on the hill, as well advocating amenities such as zip lines and alpine coasters, observation towers and hot air balloon concessions. Proponents also champion a project to enhance the existing festival site on the hill, with attendant road improvements, but often this notion is linked to the amenities noted above — and in particular the ski lift — with the caveat that development must “cash flow” in order for the amphitheater project to go.

We think not. As do others.

One of them, a true expert.

Last week, Davey Pitcher, from Wolf Creek Ski Area, again notified the Town Council of his opinion regarding the proposed ski lift. As in: Don’t do it.

Pitcher tendered this advice once before, but the council chose to ignore it, or misinterpret it, and proceed ahead with purchase of a lift once used at the Cuchara Ski Area.

Now, Pitcher has given the council another opportunity to consider his reasons for stating that he and Wolf Creek want no part of the proposed lift project. Those reasons include concerns about terrain and its limitations when it comes to skiing. He also stated concerns about potential liability and visual impacts on the hill should ski trails be cut, and highlighted a number of well-documented points concerning the cost of running a lift — many of which might not be considered by someone with less experience.

He made points regarding the possibility of, and problems involved with, night skiing on the hill and the water and noise problems associated with snowmaking operations.

Also noted were concerns about the lift itself — about whether it is long enough for the site and use, about the difficulty with mechanics involved with the uphill/downhill transport use envisioned by proponents, and about permitting and inspection requirements.

Pitcher made clear his desire to see the community prosper and said that he does not believe the proposed lift on the hill will hasten that prosperity, casting it as an amenity that will burden the town with debt and ongoing, steep costs. In his letter to the council, Pitcher wrote, “In no way do I see this vision of Reservoir Hill as either supported by the community or having a chance of success.”

He advised the town to sell the lift, as soon as possible.

The Town Council ignored the advice of this expert once before. It, and project proponents, have likewise ignored rising opposition to most aspects of the Reservoir Hill development scheme and appear to be moving ahead with some form of implementation.

We have expressed the opinion several times that the only projects on the hill worthy of consideration — and likely to be productive in the future — are improvement of the festival site, road and trail system. The remaining proposals are the products of a committee system allowed to run relatively untethered, spending enormous sums of public money with little actual accountability and oversight.

Fix the road. Improve the festival site. Determine whether there are realistic possibilities for creation of an amphitheater on the hill and the infrastructure needed to support it. Look at grants, look to use of capital improvement funds over an extended period of time.

And listen to the experts.

One has spoken, clearly, on the topic of the lift.

Do you hear him?

Karl Isberg

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