Saturday, October 15, 2011

Exhibit Two: The Wolf Creek Wars ~ by Marcia Darnell ~ April/May 2007

Here is some more history. I recommend this 3500 word article for it’s pre-May 2007 chronology of Mr. McCombs’ development dreams and tactics. . .
I also found it an interesting case study in Developer Hubris reading VWC’s ex-developer Bob Honts’ prognostications . . .

The following are unauthorized quotes from:
Village or Pillage?
The Wolf Creek Wars ~ Marcia Darnell ~ Inside Outside Magazine
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As it goes in Colorado, the battleground of this civil war is located in the courts. Since there is no legal way to prevent the development on private property, opponents have aimed an avalanche of legal documents at the U.S. Forest Service, which decides access to the property, and Mineral County, which approved the development.

Bob Honts is president and CEO of The Village at Wolf Creek Development Corp., and he's been Red McCombs' business partner since 1973. He's confident about the future of the project.
"We would like to start some on-site construction this summer,"

As with any juicy conflict, the Wolf Creek war has divided neighbors in the surrounding communities, with some hopeful about change, others dreading it.
South Fork writer Wayne Sheldrake describes himself as "a concerned citizen and concerned skier," but points out, "If environmentalism was the motivation for blocking the Village, we'd all be against the ski area, too."

"The last thing North America needs is another megaresort," he said. "Half the storefronts are empty at the new village at Aspen Highlands and it's three minutes from an airport.

Last year they were auctioning condos in Steamboat. They have an airport, too. This village won't work. There's not a model for it anywhere on the planet. Nowhere is there a strictly winter resort that accommodates 10,000 people at a ski area that has 1,400 vertical feet of skiing more than four hours away from a major metropolitan area. Nowhere."

Sheldrake's hope is that the land is preserved in a trust.
"Why botch it up forever with an experiment that benefits only a very few investors, is destined to fail, and will forever be a black eye on skiing?" he asked.

In Creede, the seat of Mineral County,
resident Jim Turnbull knows water. He's a semi-retired water resources analyst who also focuses on wastewater. "I find the whole proposal to be inappropriate for that location," he said of the Village. "The scale is inappropriate. There's a lack of assessment of damage to neighboring counties: health care, law enforcement, schools, water quality and supply. Those need to be addressed before construction."
Turnbull has studied the Village's water demand analysis.

"The independent study overestimated their supply of water and underestimated their demand," he said. "They estimate demand of 256 acre feet per year, but Alamosa uses 2,700 acre-feet per year, for about the same projected population."

Del Norte Mayor Glenn Graham, on the other hand, is gung-ho about the Village.
"I think it will have economic benefit for the town of Del Norte"

In May (2007), a court decision is expected on the EIS appeal. The enviros, CW and SLVEC, if victorious, see an opportunity for negotiation. Visions vary as to what the end result will be.

"If Honts and McCombs could shift their dream onto their ranches in Del Norte," said SLVEC's Canaly, "residents could go to the ski area, to Del Norte, South Fork, Alamosa, Creede. They could use those ranches as the hub. That's more ecologically and economically feasible way to do it. And when they're skiing at Wolf Creek, they'd be able to stop and look over The Red McCombs Endangered Species Sanctuary. That would be a great legacy for the people of Texas and the people of Colorado. That would be elegant."

Sheldrake's view is more glum.
"The Village is obviously a scam," he said. "If it goes through, a few buildings will be propped up, lots will be sold, real-estate prices in the surrounding communities will skyrocket, and within two years the Village will be a veritable ghost town. Yes, we need jobs around here, but I don't want to see Wolf Creek become the Summitville of skiing."

Marcia Darnell lives and writes in Alamosa.
read the entire article here

(The article includes a timeline of important events from 1986 to 2007)

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