1. The open space measure is wrong for Garfield County.
2. Garfield County is comprised of more than 60 percent federal lands, all open space with access. Then you must add in current parks and municipal open space. There is already adequate open space for recreation, water and grazing. Our citizens have an existing healthy economy of sportsmen and recreationists. The question remains, do we need more open space?
3. There has been no convincing need presented by the promoters. Where are the facts, statistics and proof of need?
4. This measure wants us, the citizens of Garfield County, to give them a blank check for $2 million per year. We have not heard of a specific proposal for any particular property. We may all support a worthy project with a known price; should we blindly trust them?
5. There is an ultimate decision entity, as yet unidentified, that will unilaterally decide what projects are worthy. Shouldn’t we know who they are and what their priorities are before we vote to give them our money?
6. Other means are available to set aside open lands. Agricultural lands can be preserved through conservation easements by the property owner. They would receive a tax break. If the owner truly is a conservationist that would be a good option. Also available are transferable development rights. Owners could sell their rights for development to others that would otherwise not be able to develop their property. Also there are grants from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and other private foundations for worthy open space and trail projects.
7. The proponents also want you to believe the sky is falling. They estimate a doubling of the populace in 20 years; I heard the same prediction 20 years ago. We will continue to grow but no one knows the pace. I would suggest we trust the local planning departments and boards to act in the best interest of the public on a case-by-case basis. They have enforceable tools to ensure proper growth, recognizing needs for infrastructure and open space.
8. Let’s be honest, this measure is not just about open space; it will lead to a certain kind of open space, a space that reflects a certain type of entitlement mentality, favoring not traditional values but values of those that don’t want progress and economic prosperity in their back yard.
9. We all want to preserve and enhance our beautiful valley, but we also want to have access to what we pay for as citizens. Many open space projects result in the owner retaining complete control of the property they preserve with no public access at all. Don’t we want assurance that we can at least access what is purchased in our name?
10. Finally, a tax issue like this, at a time like this, when we see a stumbling and nervous economic recovery, sends the wrong message to the business and tourism community.
Don’t be fooled by appealing overtures. Vote no on Garfield County ballot question 1A.