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Setting the Smith Ranch record straight

Mary Ellen Gilliland - Silverthorne

A flurry of letters to the editor supporting a strip mall in the Dec. 9 vote on the Smith Ranch view corridor has purported to “set the record straight” and separate fact from fiction.

I am dismayed at the “facts” these letters present.

For example, Bonnie Guthrie (SDN, Nov. 22) undermines protecting the ranch as open space by arguing that much of its original acreage was already developed as Willowbrook.

She says, “the Smith Ranch originally included all the land which is Willowbrook and Blue River Ranch neighborhoods.”

That’s just wrong. As a local historian who has spent 30 years in the Silverthorne area researching gold rush and ranch history, I can tell you that the Smith Ranch earlier was the historic Valaer dairy ranch.

Dillon’s Sena Valaer will inform anyone seeking the facts that two brothers, Al and Perry Ault, homesteaded a ranch across the creek from the Valaer property, on the present day Willowbrook site. The Smith Ranch definitely did not spread across the expanse of Willowbrook where the Aults ranched.

If the neighborhood identified as Blue River Ranch, a name I don’t recognize, is meant to refer to Blue River Valley Ranch Lakes, then the assertion that that is former Smith Ranch property also is incorrect.

Earlier, Silverthorne’s town manager was quoted in the newspaper as downgrading the Smith Ranch’s scenic values with the declaration, “It used to be a gravel pit.” Again, this is simply not true. No gravel pit ever defaced this rolling pristine land.

These errors and other erroneous public statements by strip mall advocates are forgivable in the sense that most are newcomers to Silverthorne.

At town council hearings on the project, citizens speaking for preservation came from many different neighborhoods. But strip mall advocates almost all came from Three Peaks. One mall supporter had just moved days ago from Chicago.

When these people take time to let the beauty of the Silverthorne area resonate in their minds and hearts, they will hopefully think better of urbanizing their new town. Why bring here the noise, traffic, lights and sprawl one gladly left behind?

Mary Ellen Gilliland

Silverthorne


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