Call it Paradise.
Kiss it Goodbye?
~ from a posting in response to a letter in the Aspen Times (formatted for web) See the full article on the Media Links Page
In the Feb. 15 Aspen Times article, "Ascendigo Plan for Missouri Heights Camp Meets Neighbor Opposition", a letter was posted attacking the views of those of us living here in Missouri Heights. I realized then that Ascendigo appears to have done a great job of keeping people in the dark as to their goals and what they hope to achieve. So, here is my response.
In today’s world corporations and politicians often say one thing and do another – the ole ‘Bait and Switch’. In your view Ascendigo is a horse-riding camp held a brief few weeks during the summer for autistic children. Who could be against that? Not me!
With many of our wells suffering from contamination, water flow depletions, or going dry altogether due to decreased snowpack and climate change.
Ascendigo’s plan includes tapping into these water sources to create two summer lakes for swimming and winter ice-skating and irrigating 8+ acres for horse feed as well as supplying all their living onsite and housed visiting guests.
Their available water supply numbers are based on data gathered in 1992…not now in 2021 as the Western U.S. has slipped into a permanent climate drought phase.
Summer activities scheduled from May 1 through Sept 30th, accommodating up to 100 people every Sunday night for farewell dinners for guests leaving replaced by new guests checking into their rooms
These expanding water needs do not mesh with the original plans for adding limited new homes (13 in number) or address today’s growing water problems.
Wildfires Lastly, some may have forgotten that 2020 was the largest and most destructive wildfire season in the history of Colorado but here in Missouri Heights we have not forgotten.
All of us were evacuated during the Lake Christina fire, needing to grab children, belongings, clothing, pets, as quickly as possible leaving our houses behind only to join long lines of cars and trucks, horse trailers, herds of cattle being driven to safer pastures away from the encroaching fire.
The roads were then blocked off and for days we could not return home for anything left behind. And, we had to find somewhere else to set up temporary housing.
We were put on evacuation alert again when the Grizzly Creek fire broke out last summer!
If nothing else, we learned that wildfires driven by the gusting 40+ mile an hour winds we have here in Missouri Heights can destroy an area the size of three football fields per minute. There is no way to stop a fire like that or get out of its way.
As our local fire chief has said, the only way to slow a wildfire down up here is with aircraft stationed hours away.
Wildfire could start at the camp, below in Blue Lake, in any of the HOA’s surrounding the camp and move so quickly it would be a disaster in the making.
It is well documented that people on the spectrum do not react well to emergencies, especially fires.
A fast wind-driven wildfire inferno would spell disaster for the camp and surrounding homeowners, and especially to those trapped in the middle of it.
As the effects of climate change increase, so do the dangers of potential human or lightning started wildfires in our area that could race towards Basalt, Aspen and Carbondale in a New York second!
Emergency Vehicles Another interesting point is found in Ascendigo’s usage plan:
As summer activities wind down, winter activities begin with Ascendigo hosting conferences, accommodating corporate guests in their housing complex, and rental of space to other organizations that may want to use it.
The programs are not just for children, but more challenged adults will be included.
Accordingly, their land planner Bob Schultz alerted the neighborhood that they could see at least three emergency vehicles a week coming down their dirt roads to address problems at the complex.
Think of that, three emergency vehicles now screaming past your house, day, or night, three times a week, from this day forward.
Tax Dollars But wait, here comes the switch! That is NOT what it really is.
As details slowly leak out, we find Ascendigo is a non-profit (no taxes paid to the community), outside-supported corporation
Ascendigo is proposing to build a year-round housing, conference complex for 100-200+ visitors, counselors and workers, food services, campers, etc. here in rural Missouri Heights.
The two narrow dirt roads (Harmony and Sunset Lane) privately maintained by homeowners leading to the complex will now have to handle the burden of an additional (in their numbers) 450 (now 210) cars a day. (This number was later retracted by Ascendigo)
Imagine that dropping into your neighborhood out of the blue!
Summary These are my concerns and those of my neighbors. We are people living in this historic rural western slope community suddenly facing out-of-control corporate development that has turned its eyes from the mid-valley floor to rural neighborhoods like ours. There is no reason why this project could not have been placed on the valley floor in better proximity to emergency services, state maintained paved and snow plowed roads, and a more buffered wind-free fire environment. The one thing my friends and neighbors do know is that if we lose Missouri Heights to corporate development, it could happen to others too. Ten years from now, we will not know if we are living in Colorado or Southern California. The overbuilt sprawl congestion will look the same. Remember, developers tell you they will make your lives better...what they really mean is that it will make them rich. As the Eagles said in their song,
“Call a place paradise - kiss it goodbye”.
*Note that some of the claims by Ascendigo have been retracted or revised over time. For the latest information, read the Documents provided on this site.