I’m amazed, out of all of the places to build his private trophy town, William Koch found the wild pristine, sacred wilderness area of Country Road 12, just below Erickson Springs. My Grandmother, who was related to the original Bear Ranch family, just up the road, would say, “That place needs a trophy town like a pig needs a saddle.” Mr. Koch should display these words of western wisdom prominently at the entrance of the main building. Because of its exceptional beauty the billionaires have found western Colorado and are on a roll buying up large chunks of land, in some cases changing existing county, state and federal regulations.
I’m very proud to be the descendant of a Crested Butte pioneer mining family. I have watched the Roaring Fork and Vail valleys change from some of the most beautiful pristine land in North America into the overdeveloped valleys they are today. What’s the shelf life for Kebler pass, perhaps 15-20 years? There are many native Coloradans who have exceptionally strong feelings that pristine, unaltered land provides a spiritual connection to their being and existence. Development and construction destroys this connection and its spirituality.
My father’s family was very strong members of the United Mine Worker’s union. My mother’s side goes back to Leadville and the Ludlow massacre. My father gave me the greatest gift of all which was the means to travel to many foreign countries and the education to write a letter such as this. I belong to the American Federation of teachers. I am absolutely convinced the UMW and other American unions created the American middle-class which is rapidly disappearing. The Koch brothers are reported to be notoriously anti-union. I hope William Koch is treating his miners and workers well. I sincerely hope he doesn’t fire them for cheaper labor, possibly from another country, or sells out to an entity that does.
Construction of this private town has definitely created employment, provided tax revenue and created local payola. Several decades ago Leadville voted out gambling. The town survived the hard times and loss of jobs and, in most peoples’ opinion, is much better off because of this decision.
Constructing a private town for a few chosen individuals is a very selfish act. Why not move this private “museum” to a very large city like Denver or Wichita and open it to the public? This would give a very large number of deserving middle-class Americans the joy and education of seeing these western treasures. This benevolent relocation would give the average citizen the opportunity to see the only known photo of Billy the Kid, Custer’s rifle and flag, Annie Oakley’s picture and lots of other original western and Native American artifacts. Sharing this exceptional collection would display much more goodwill, class and civility than hoarding it for a privileged chosen few. Mr. Koch would be much more liked, respected and admired if he were to follow the Getty museum example in L.A. He appears to have the capital for such a move.
Who will be among the chosen few invited to view this private collection? A good bet would be: Texas oilmen, his billionaire brothers, very far right-wing politicians, Wall Street tycoons and Middle Eastern potentates. These individuals should be overwhelmed with Koch’s display of wealth.
In conclusion, a lot of people I have spoken with do not want Koch’s private trophy town being built in this area. He should promptly display the decency to move it to Denver or a friendly city. He could also take it to Texas, where it would be much more welcome, or keep it in Palm Beach, Florida, with the rest of his empire.