Letter to the editor: Threat of conservation condemnation opens opportunity for negotiation
There is a possible compromise for the Fiester Preserve.
For too long, our local governments have shirked responsibility to the senior community, following a mining-era attitude that aging residents will move to lower elevations. Yet the Summit Daily News’ series on seniors proves that many older residents can age in place in Summit.
The county has targeted Fiester Preserve for senior housing since 2008, as I well know as the former director of Continental Divide Land Trust.
The Fiester Preserve is named in honor of Mark and Roberta Fiester, who bridged the transition years between depression-era Frisco and Summit County ski resort ascendency. Reverend Fiester resurrected the Father Dyer Methodist Church in the 1960s and wrote a history of Breckenridge.
It was Roberta’s love of wildflowers that really identifies the conservation values of Fiester Preserve. This is the only place in Frisco where pasqueflowers bloom in the spring.
The greatest conservation values are found on the southern end of Fiester Preserve and along Miner’s Creek Road, where these beautiful wildflowers grow. The road access is zoned as open space in the County Commons planned unit development. Yet the commissioners want to take this land for county infrastructure, and zoning has little teeth.
The county knows as well as I do that no Colorado judge will approve the extinguishment of this conservation easement because it sets a terrible precedent. The threat of condemnation opens the opportunity for negotiation.
This is the best compromise in my opinion: Allow the county to take the northern portion of Fiester Preserve for senior housing, permanently preserve the southern portion of Fiester Preserve and all of the strip of open space land along Miner’s Creek Road with an adjusted conservation easement boundary, and improve access to Bill’s Ranch by decommissioning redundant roads.
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