Citizens voice road concerns
SUMMIT COUNTY – The initial flareup surrounding a possible Wildernest-Frisco road connection has tempered a bit. However, it is still very much on the minds of many local residents.
At a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners Monday, the leader of a group opposing the road’s construction, Jim Anthony, presented a letter signed by a group calling itself the Citizens Opposed to the Proposed Frisco/Wildernest Road.
The letter listed 204 members of the group and claimed a growth rate of about five people per day.
“We want to keep pressure on it so the committee will see the light and cease and desist and save itself the energy and expense and save us energy and expense,” Anthony said Wednesday. “(We want to) nip it in the bud.”
He said he had planned to present the letter to the group of local business leaders investigating the road at a meeting Wednesday, but the meeting was canceled.
As conceived, the prospective road would enable Wildernest residents to travel to Frisco without having to negotiate Interstate 70 or Dillon Dam Road. The road also would be a fourth east-west option for traversing the county.
Gray Pearson of Silverthorne, an engineer assisting the committee in researching its options, said the meeting was canceled because not enough progress had yet been made to make it productive.
“The reason we slid the meeting back was we didn’t have that much to report,” he said.
Pearson said the group was still looking into the different possibilities associated with a Frisco-Wildernest connection but that it remained very much a nascent project.
“It’s still in a formative stage,” he said. “We’re still picking through the fundamentals.”
Though they seem to recognize that fact, opponents of the road continue to pour energy into making sure it never gets off the drawing board.
“While we understand your proposal is quite preliminary, we … are concerned that the envisioned road between Frisco and Wildernest would significantly and detrimentally impact the quality of life for White River National Forest users, the wildlife habitat and residents of Wildernest,” the opposition group’s letter reads. “Therefore we strongly oppose your proposal.
The group has started a Web site to help its members network and stay informed of any new developments.
In addition to the opposition group, the Buffalo Mountain Metropolitan District, which provides essential services to the unincorporated Wildernest community, officially took a stance opposing the road at its July 15 meeting.
“The board felt that based on the information it had at this point, that it was appropriate to take a position opposing the road,” district manager Gary Drescher said. “With the information that we had – both more or less formal responses as well as informal conversations – no one that I have talked to has really been in favor of it.”
Drescher pointed to citizen concerns he had heard dealing with the possible cost of the road, who would be charged with funding it, and a disturbance to the recreational amenities available in the area.
“The comments that I have heard or heard second hand have been more along the lines of it being a recreational area that many people in Wildernest enjoy using,” he said. “They are concerned about the impact that will have on their use of the forest.”
Pearson said he felt much of the opposition was due to a misunderstanding of the project and a significant amount of misinformation that was circulating among local citizens.
“Everybody we talk to seems positive,” he said. “It seems like the people that don’t talk to us get the press that’s negative.”
“It’s just that people invent their own versions and pass them around,” he said.
Pearson re-emphasized the fact no one has officially proposed the project, something County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom echoed.
“It’s still very much in the discussion stages,” Lindstrom said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a group of citizens in the community who have an idea and they’re currently trying to come up with a plan and a proposal.”
However, he said he’d been “very impressed” by the amount of citizens associated with the letter Anthony presented. He said the commissioners each had informal discussions with people on both sides of the issue, but that they were “very informal.”
Pearson said the group would continue to study the idea and that he had been confirming traffic counts and soliciting proposals from surveyors and aerial topographers.
“It has it’s own evolution,” he said of the project. “If it’s a real project, you submit it before a government body, and … we’re just not there yet. I’m not out there campaigning for anything. It’s just a potential project and it has a ways to go.”
Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or
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