Alan Keeffe: Humble coverage wrong

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Your recent coverage of the public access trails in Agate Creek has been unprofessional and misleading. First, your articles state that the Trousils do not allow public access on the Agate Creek Trail. Your articles go on to mention lawsuits, no trespassing signs and fences, as if the Trousils had closed public access across Humble Ranch. Neither statement is true.

For those who care to research the facts themselves, the trail easement is recorded in the county at reception number 510343. The Agate Creek trail is described as segments 1 and 5. What you failed to say in the articles is that the trail up Agate Creek remains open for to the public for hiking, except when closed by the Division of Wildlife for wildlife protection and that the other trails described in the easement have never been open for public access.

Second, you imply that the $950,000 paid to the Trousils was for a public trail system across Humble Ranch. That is not true. Those funds were paid to acquire the development rights on 1,131 acres owned by the Trousils. In exchange for the funds, the Trousils granted a conservation easement to Yampa Valley Land Trust. The conservation easement does not require opening the trails that have never been available for public use. For those who care to review it, the easement is recorded at reception number 510344. The citizens of Routt County have received the full benefit of that money because the land remains protected under the conservation easement.

Third, you imply that the Trousils breached their agreement for the LPS subdivision by not opening up trails to the public. That is not true. The county did not impose a public access easement across the ranch as part of the conditions for the LPS, which they could easily have done if that had been the understanding. For those who care to review it, the LPS development agreement is recorded at reception number 512334.

Your articles intentionally mislead your readers into concluding that the Trousils failed to honor some undefined right of unlimited public biking access. The documents for the Grant Ranch transaction were orchestrated by the best land use professionals we have in the county from the Yampa Valley Land Trust, the Routt County Board of Commissioners, the city of Steamboat Springs and the Trust for Public Lands. If unlimited public biking access across Humble Ranch was such an important part of the transaction, then why wasn’t that contained in one of the documents, and why did the court rule in the Trousils’ favor? The answer is quite simple — because it was not. The access easement on the Agate Creek trail appears to have been the only requirement and it remains available for use by the public.

Alan Keeffe

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

George, It is not fair to blame the legal system which is designed to resolve conflicts according to the law and written contracts. The lawyers that wrote and approved this contract for the land board and the city fundamentally failed in their client by failing to have the contract specify what their clients wanted. Having access to the trails dependent upon a cabin and failing to have any requirement that the cabin is built is a massive mistake.

The attorneys that made mincemeat of logic were the ones working for the City and Land Board that allowed the contract to have logic making trail access dependent upon the cabin being constructed.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

But Mr Keefe's arguments are not a what is wrong with the legal system. That is just someone trying to distort the truth so that the Trousils do not appear to be people that scammed the public of nearly $1M on verbal promises that lawyers failed to effectively enforce in the written contract.

We should acknowledge the cleverness of Mr Keefe's letter because he is arguing that the contract is what the courts have ruled can be enforced. So he cleverly argues that the contract was not to provide trails because the contract failed to properly require that the expected trails were provided.

The joy of the situation is that we have both the contract and the verbal promises so it is pretty clear what sort of trail access was envisioned because the contract contains specific detail on the trails that would be opened if the cabin was built and they made public comments saying they planned to build the cabin.

If anyone believes Mr Keefe's version of the situation then I can sell them shares of a bridge in Brooklyn. I'll have my lawyers draw up the sales contract and since I am as trustworthy as the Trousils then you don't need to read it very closely.

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dave fisher 4 years, 2 months ago

sooo, forgive me for sounding so ignorant... the Trousils will be giving back all the loot then, right Alan?

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aichempty 4 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Keeffee is well known around the county as a property law attorney.

The reasonable question back to him is, "How much were you paid to write this, and by whom?"

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John Fielding 4 years, 2 months ago

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Another reasonable question is whether the access that was agreed to by written, verbal or implied contract is the same as what was being demanded once the land changed ownership.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

John, I don't understand your question. Though, maybe the following answers your question:

The contract specified precisely the location of trails that were to be open once the cabin was built.

The verbal comments by both sides made at the time suggested that the cabin's construction was planned and the trails would be open once the construction was finished. The only trouble is that the written contract did not require that the cabin to be built. When the Trousils said they didn't have the money to build it, the City tried to build it then the Trousils went to court to stop the cabin from being built.

I certainly hope the Editor determined whether or not Mr Keeffe was representing the Trousils before publishing this letter. At the very least, if he is representing them then that should be mentioned.

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John Fielding 4 years, 2 months ago

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Scott,

What was planned beyond location? Seasonal closings? One way designation? Equestrian, Pedestrian, ORV, XC ski ?

What is the expectation of the user groups, if the court should find in our favor?

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John Fielding 4 years, 2 months ago

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Scott, what will be the agency administering the use of the cabin and trails, park and rec?

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John Fielding 4 years, 2 months ago

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OK, I'm surprised no one answered that, maybe because it's the weekend.

Here is another, Mr. Keeffe may be qualified and interested in answering.

If the court does not find for the City, and the contract is all we have, does it stipulate the cabin will be constructed by the Trousils? If they fail to do so will the City have standing to encumber the title to prevent its transfer prior to that obligation being fulfilled?

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

John, I have no idea what would be the agency in charge of the trails. I think there is also a question that if the trails were open that whether the trails would be subject to DOW closure (for wintering herd) or if local biologist could use DOW criteria to adjust the closure. Ie if the wintering herd has left then maybe trails could be opened earlier.

The lack of anything saying that the cabin had to be built within a certain timeframe is the great flaw of the contract. If the contract failed to say that the cabin had to be built then I'd be extremely surprised that it said anything that would stop title from being transferred. Presumably, any buyer would still have to open the trails if they built the cabin.

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John Fielding 4 years, 2 months ago

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What agency attempted to build the cabin? Was city council aware of that department's actions?

Are there any stipulations for the types of users allowed on the trails? If not that is another very large flaw in the agreement.

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