William A. Wallace: Lafarge duplicitous

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Regarding your story about the Lafarge pit in Friday's Steamboat Today, there are some additional facts your readers and the Routt County commissioners need to know.

Having worked with Lafarge representatives on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development for many years in my role as a liaison delegate, I thought they would recognize that their proposed site in the South Valley would be incompatible with our community's natural assets and values. I now recognize that Lafarge's actions in Steamboat Springs fly in the face of the company's supposed commitment to the principles of sustainable development and to host communities' well-being.

I contacted my friends in Lafarge at their Paris headquarters in September 2003, asking them to work with us to find an alternative site for their proposed gravel and cement operations. Some weeks later, I received a call from Lafarge's Gary Tuttle, agreeing to meet and start a process to identify alternative sites that would meet the needs of Lafarge while preserving the South Valley. At that meeting, Gary and his staff outlined site criteria while Concerned Citizens representatives pulled out area maps to identify possible alternatives.

Those efforts continued for about six weeks, until I received a call from Gary saying that Lafarge was discontinuing all further discussions with us, ostensibly over the fact that we had informed the Routt County Commissioners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about our discussions. The cutoff of negotiations puzzled us until we realized that if more practicable gravel sites were identified in the process, Lafarge would have to evaluate them in accordance with Army Corps permit procedures. I am left with the impression that Lafarge always intended to site its pits on the More Ranch in the South Valley regardless of the wishes of the community.

Concerned Citizens has been working diligently to preserve the South Valley's signature views, wildlife and agricultural assets -- values that contribute to the local economy through tourism -- and create a unique quality of life for visitors and residents alike.

We understand that gravel resources are essential for the county's growth and development. However, we see no reason to approve the proposed gravel pit site, because there are other sites in the area that can meet our gravel resource needs for the foreseeable future. Also, we see no reason to support the expansion plans of a duplicitous operator.

William A. Wallace

Steamboat Springs

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