Park County has the answer: Delay

Letter from Linda Spielman

Local government – March 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Park County has the answer: Postpone, Delay, Study, Examine & then File a Suit

A Follow-up to Charlie Spielman’s letter, from Mrs. Charlie Spielman


Although I agree completely with Charlie’s analysis of our problems, both past and present, I completely disagree with his solution.

We do not need to have action-at-all-cost become the goal of government officials. Rather, we need to follow the example set by Park County and its county seat, Fairplay, where they have always known that a town can remain serenely unbothered by what goes on in places like Breckenridge if it institutes just one rule: TAKE YOUR TIME.

If you don’t want everything you hold dear to be destroyed by itinerant workers who impose unbearable strains upon services your long-term tax-paying citizens support, you only have to remember why you have representative government and zoning laws.

Some out-of-state speculator wants to build acres of cheap and ugly low-income housing on the best land you’ve got? And he couldn’t care less about the stresses it will place on your schools, sewers, scarce water supply, and social services — not to mention the scenery? No problem!

You simply advise the speculator that no approval can be granted until the county commissioners have studied the matter.

Then you have the county attorney advise the commissioners there’s no way to know if this development is legal until the zoning board says so.

The zoning board says legality can’t be decided until new land-use regulations have been adopted and approved by the planning commission.

The planning commission says it can’t adopt land use regulations until a citizens’ advisory group has studied the matter.

Then you tell all fifty members of the citizens’ advisory group that they have a year or two to consider federally-mandated worries such as how many pheasant nests might conceivably be displaced by hypothetical boat ramps.

You never let the citizens’ advisory group forget that they can’t actually make a formal recommendation until every bureaucrat between Main Street and Washington, D.C., has decided whether it will break any law of any kind.

As this slow-as-molasses process follows its true-blue American course, you create a whole series of wonderfully useful “Catch 22’s” that will keep the rich speculator waiting in the wings while everybody in the county wrangles with everybody else for years and years and years.

Every interested party must have a say — every rancher, prospector, land owner, store owner, summer resident, Realtor, history buff, tree-hugger, glider pilot, well-meaning mom, and old lady who demands preservation of her shortcut to the bank (which is only five blocks away). Oh, and don’t forget the sheriff and the expert who claims to know when the water will absolutely run out.

If worse finally comes to worst and the commissioners actually dare to approve a new development, you call on a local nutcase to take ’em to court and keep everything on hold for years. It’s all right there in The Fairplay Flume week after week.

And it works, folks. Just look at the Fairplay area today. You won’t find one instance of urban sprawl or commercial progress or high-density housing. Best of all, you won’t find a commercial airport parked right there in the Park.

What you will find is a proud little old town surrounded by rolling land and high mountains. A place that is still empty enough and quiet enough to stir one’s soul and restore one’s sanity.

I say, “Let’s hear it for GOVERNMENT FAIRPLAY STYLE!”

Linda Spielman Horseshoe Gulch, outside Fairplay