Opinion | Scott M. Estill: Changes are coming | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Scott M. Estill: Changes are coming

Thank you. Two words that express gratitude and are easy to say but not said often enough. I would like to begin my first column by saying “thank you” to the Summit Daily News for offering me a platform to present some different perspectives on living in Summit County in the 21st century.

I have titled my column “Challenges, Choices, Changes” because I believe that the next decade will grant us an unparalleled opportunity in our history to review where we’ve come from, where we are today and the changes that will continue to take place in our mountain communities for the foreseeable future.

Does anyone really doubt that the changes that will affect all of us in Summit County have already begun? These changes will impact individuals and businesses big and small. What will be the outcomes of the choices we make concerning education (including job training), health care, land use and affordable housing? Who will pay for the choices we implement? How will small, local businesses locate (and be able to afford) qualified employees? And where will these employees live when a quick web search for available rental properties yields few results? How about $1,800 per month for a one-bedroom, 771-square-foot apartment, or $21,600 for the year not including gas and electric?

Will further diversity and viewpoints continue to feed our current divisive political landscape? Can we even agree on what are facts in this age of lies, distortions and disinformation? How will our small, local businesses be able to compete in an era of technological advances and a very tight job market? How will the influx of work-at-home employees and visitors in Summit County affect our quality of life and the cost of simply living? How will we handle the reckoning of economic and other forms of inequality that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront?

These are just a few of the issues that I will attempt to tackle, and by doing so, I encourage discussion and opposing viewpoints. Without all meaningful viewpoints and perspectives out in the open, it is impossible to weigh the pros and cons of any issue in order to make an intelligent and beneficial decision for our community. As Nelson Mandela famously stated: “I learned to have the patience to listen when people put forward their views, even if I think those views are wrong. You can’t reach a just decision in a dispute unless you listen to both sides.”

I have been blessed to call Colorado my home since 1994 and to have the opportunity to experience Summit County living since 2005. It has been a great place for my wife and I to raise our two daughters as we balanced our parenting and careers. I have been a licensed attorney for over 30 years (now semiretired) and have run several small businesses during my time in Colorado. During this period, I also devoted a substantial amount of time as an author and educator. And while I have spent the last few decades as a lawyer fighting the government (specifically the Internal Revenue Service), I do not believe that our government is inherently bad or laden with corrupt intentions.

Unlike a fellow Summit Daily News columnist, I do not believe that the Frisco and Breckenridge town councils (along with the mayors) and Summit Board of County Commissioners are manufacturing a crisis (or two) in order to establish more governmental control. It seems to me that our elected officials — along with private sector businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals who call Summit County home — should all be granted a seat at the table when we consider alternatives and solutions to the problems we are collectively experiencing.

I will end my first column the way I began, with a “thank you” for this opportunity to provide readers with a different viewpoint. Agree or disagree, I hope you enjoy thinking about the challenges we have in Summit County, the choices available (good, bad or indifferent) to meet these challenges, and the changes that will indeed occur as a result of moving on our collective path forward.

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