Saturday, November 20, 2004
The editorial in the Nov. 10 Steamboat Today depicts a dream-world fantasy or wishful thinking. Journalism 101 teaches that when stating an opinion, the facts it is based on must be correct.
The city of Steamboat Springs and the Colorado Division of Wildlife are in the process of purchasing the Lafarge North Pit for open space and public access recreation. The reader is led to believe this too will happen at the proposed Lafarge gravel pit at the More site. This is not the case. Lafarge owns the property where the North Pit is located and leases the property at the South Pit. At the proposed site, Lafarge has a lease and nothing more. All this was documented at the April 22 hearing for a special use permit before the Routt County Board of Commissioners. At that meeting, Lafarge's Gary Tuttle was questioned about the future use. He answered, "When we are done (mining) we have legal commitments to other people who may acquire the property, so we do not have any rights to make commitments ... as we will not own it when we are done."
Under these circumstances the attempt to connect the dots does not correlate:
Former gravel pit equals open space.
The editorial states the projected Stagecoach development will drive the need for gravel in the south valley. This may be true, but there are closer existing pits for these demands.
n County planning said there is only five years of gravel left in already permitted pits in the county. The former Punch Hewes pit, now called King Mountain, has at least 100-plus years of gravel reserve based on present consumption.
n Routt County Road 14 is not improved from its north intersection with Colorado Highway 131 to Stagecoach, but it is improved from C.R. 14's south intersection with Colo. 131 to Stagecoach. Because King Mountain is south of Stagecoach, materials from it would be hauled to the Stagecoach area via the improved section of C.R. 14, not the unimproved section.
n The King Mountain gravel pit is an excellent alternative as trucks do not have to go through any towns to deliver to areas north or them, and the travel time/cost factor is the same as present gravel pits, except for the closer Redmond Pit.
n The King Mountain pit is not in any visual corridor, and most people have not seen it in its many years of operation.
Regarding "benefits outweighing the drawbacks," the drawback that should not be forgotten is the safety issue for drivers who suddenly will encounter trucks turning in and out of this proposed More Ranch site when hitting the fog bank.
Couple that with the Colo. 131 expansion, the big curve, the lack of adequate acceleration and turning lanes that will put every driver, school bus and other highway user (including wildlife) in harm's way.
If benefits outweigh the drawbacks, it may be worth the risk. As proposed by Lafarge, the benefits will accrue to them, not the community, and the drawbacks will burden the community and may even kill the goose that lays our golden eggs. I think the editorial's Fantasy World is just that.
Can we afford this risk?
Marian "Sam" Marti