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Notes and Commentary for October 1994

Brief by Central Staff

Various – October 1994 – Colorado Central Magazine

Saving South Park

PARK COUNTY — Park County strikes us as a land divided. For one thing, it has two telephone area codes. For another, it serves as a bedroom community for three urban zones: Denver metro around Bailey and Summit resort around Fairplay, with some commuters venturing to Colorado Springs from the Lake George area.

Little wonder that its politics are contentious, and now there’s a group called Save Park County. Its stated aims include growth control and protecting the rural lifestyle. Other goals:

— Stopping overbuilding, especially around Bailey.

— Restricting new subdivisions.

— Stopping the proposed airport.

— Stopping the paving of Guanella Pass.

— Stopping the proposed Guanella Reservoir.

That list looks pretty negative, which is one of the problems with ground-level activism. It’s possible to organize and stop certain projects (although they always seem to come back), but it’s difficult to organize toward a positive view.

That is, “what kind of place do we want to live in, and how do we get there from here?” rather than “can we stop this dam, that road, or the airport?”

At any rate, if you’re interested in keeping Park County from turning into Wheatridge with an airport, you can reach Save Park County at Drawer C, Alma CO 80420-0403, 719-836-2345.

Parents & Friends

HARTSEL — Now there’s a local chapter of the national organization P-FLAG: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The Collegiate Peaks chapter, one of a dozen in Colorado, has 16 member households and about 40 on its mailing list in Chaffee, Park, and Lake counties. Its goals include support, counseling, education, and advocacy.

Although the group concedes that some members’ fears of discrimination may be exaggerated, one parent said she felt her job would be threatened if her employer ever learned that her son, who lives in another town, is gay.

For more information, call 719-395-2544 or 719-836-2685. The group hopes to offer support, but notes that some people are afraid even to attend meetings.

Upscale Blues

TELLURIDE — A few years after the Russian revolution, the American socialist and writer Lincoln Steffens took a tour, and returned to announce that “I have seen the future, and it works.”

Steffens couldn’t have been more wrong, but if resort development continues, one might observe that “Time magazine has seen our future, and it doesn’t work.”

The flip side of last year’s “Boom Time in the Rockies” piece was called “Down and Out in Telluride,” and ran in the Sept. 5 edition.

It was a tale of waiters and lift attendants living in the woods because they can’t afford the rent in town, where a shed with a bed served as a rental and the bank president struggles to get by on $200,000 a year.

Jim Davidson, editor of the Telluride Times-Journal, observed that the tourist economy “brings instability and a surly work force. We can’t expect nice worker attitudes when people come to work begging a shower.”

Time writer Gregory Jaynes noted that “The situation in tourist towns is an extreme version of the trend that affects the rest of America — the dearth of working-class jobs that pay enough to support a life with even the bare necessities.”

Further, “Life for the working class in resort areas has always been short on personal amenities, but the situation is now reaching crisis proportions because of stagnating wages and high real estate prices.”

The article is a reminder that rural areas can’t stay rural in the face of industrial tourism, which brings urban poblems and needs like public transportation, day-care, clinics, and housing.