Open space deal may force out families
SUMMIT COUNTY – An Open Space plan to buy 1,840 acres in the Golden Horseshoe area from B&B Mines is forcing a number of backcountry cabin dwellers from their abodes and lifestyles.The Breckenridge and Summit County Open Space programs are expected to close on the $9 million-plus purchase by June 2004.Open Space is not supposed to have people living on it in dwellings. Eviction notices have gone out.East of Tiger Road, past the multimillion-dollar homes lining the golf course, surrounded by the national forest and expansive mountain views, are the abandoned cabins where miners once dwelled.For the past two or three decades, these cabins have been the homes of a special breed of families.Approaching the dirt and gravel-strewn thoroughfare, with mountains of dredged up river rock obliterating the view of the peaks beyond, there is a fork in the road, where a right turn takes you into the rutted entry of Good Times Inc.The enterprise is a well-known tourist attraction where visitors can sign up for dog-sled trips, snowmobile adventures and horse-drawn sleigh rides through pristine meadows and breathtaking countryside.It is here that manager John Paiement and his son Orion keep track of the almost 90 sled dogs and maintain the sleighs.It is a thriving business, generating tax dollars for the community as well as repeat visits by the coveted tourists who want to experience the mountain life as it once was.The Paiements have lived in this area for almost 30 years. Son Orion graduated from Summit High and is closing in on his degree in finance at Colorado State University.Other families also live in the area, all with jobs, several with children.The distinguishing fact is that they live in some of the very same cabins that were here long before skiing became an industry and a vacation home market sprang up.The spirited Paiements live in their pioneer-like settings because they choose to.It is a way of life that is harsh and reflects a long ago and faraway time. None have indoor plumbing, some are without electricity, most heat with wood, and use a generator for power.Some are without phones. It is clear they wouldn’t want it any other way.”I’m still here because I love it here. I’d be sad to see it go. I grew up using a snowmobile to get in and out,” Orion Paiement, said.”It’s more work as a lifestyle, but the freedom you get in return is pretty neat – well worth it. We are all hard-working people. What I”m upset about is not so much that we’re getting kicked out; we hadn’t gotten any word as to what was going on. I had to research it to find out.”John Paiement has been here since 1978.”The place was a mess when I got up here. We cleaned it up, hauled out abandoned cars, scrap, and mining equipment lying around. I’ve been here 25 years. We’re willing to pay more rent to B&B and help maintain the area (to stay).”Said Orion, “You have to respect property rights, but the profound irony is that you’re being evicted from your home by your own tax dollars that they’ll (the town and county) turn around and make a profit on.”He and his father said B&B had been good to them and they don’t want to offend the soon-to-be former property owner. At the least, they said they want to be informed about what’s going on.”I provide eight to 10 jobs (per year) and upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 tourists come through here every year,” John Paiement said.Good Times is a private business and will not be affected by the sale, however, the Paiements live in a cabin down the road and will be evicted by June; their home bulldozed.Others to be affected include Jeremy, a carpenter, and Megan, his wife, a seamstress with an infant child. John is a tile setter; Patrick is a ski instructor as well as a musician with a master’s degree, and a part-time teacher.”I guess what we’re trying to say,” John Paiement mused,” is we’ve spent a lot of work, and pain, and tears here, and don’t want to leave if there’s anyway (not to).At Wednesday’s meeting of the Open Space Advisory Council, several of the residents came out to plead their case. Council chairman Scott Hummer agreed to a meeting in early December to hear a plan devised by the tenants.Although it would seem that the sale of the parcel by B&B Mining would negate any chance for the families to remain, the tenants expressed a willingness to maintain trails and the surrounding area in exchange for the ability to stay put.However, Environmental Protection Agency regulations regarding open space versus land that is occupied might render their proposition moot.Stew Mosberg is a regular contributor to The Summit Daily, lives in Blue River and believes in preserving the pioneer spirit that made this country and the state of Colorado what it is today.
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