Thoughts On Lot 4 And The Wellness Center
To The Editor:
As a long-time resident of Estes Park and a Realtor for nearly thirty years, I found the letter released last week by the Estes Valley Land Trust Board of Directors to be very disturbing in view of the dishonest effort made by the “Friends of Lot 4” to create a permanent conservation easement on Lot 4.
The EVLT holds the conservation easement for three properties in front of The Stanley Hotel including the viewshed from Wonderview Avenue towards The Stanley Hotel and the wetland area on Black Canyon Creek southwest of The Stanley Hotel. The EVLT letter does not list the Knolls/Willows property (19.6 acres) that is contiguous to the viewshed and wetland conservation easements (5.56 acres)… a combination of 25.27 acres of open space adjacent or near Lot 4!
Clearly from the EVLT letter, Lot 4 does not meet much of the criteria for an EVLT conservation easement :
— it fails to provide open space in the entryway into Estes Park, RMNP, or Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest
— it fails to be valuable to community for scenic character (since it’s view is the concrete block backside of Safeway and upper Stanley Village)
—it fails to be valued as a wetland, floodplain or riparian area
But most importantly of all, based upon the evaluation criteria stated in the EVLT Board letter:
—Lot 4 has cause for a major deduction in desirability for EVLT acceptance as a conservation easement because it is “contiguous with commercial development or properties that demonstrate hazardous issues”. Lot 4 is contiguous with not one but TWO commercial developments (one includes a dry cleaner) — the TWO LARGEST commercial developments in Estes Park!
IF the EVLT accepted Lot 4 as a conservation easement, the long-term cost would be thousands and thousands of dollars to the taxpayer in conversion costs and a stewardship investment fund for it’s monitoring and enforcement. This does not include the additional loss of the $1.1 million Town investment made for the purchase of Lot 4 in 2006. This does not seem well thought out by the “Friends of Lot 4” at all.
IF the EVLT does not not accept Lot 4 as a conservation easement, what is the plan of the “Friends” then? They have represented this rosy picture of picnic areas and trails along the concrete block backside of Stanley Village. We, the taxpayers, would pay for this expensive liability in perpetuity and who would want to “picnic and hike” with that ugly view?
The master plan for the EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center on Lot 4, is now approved by the Town planning commission, and includes 40% open space (10% more than required by development code). Of Lot 4’s 6.88 acres for the EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center, 2.752 acres would be open space and MAINTAINED by Grand Heritage Hotel Group, not us the taxpayers. This open space is located along the east end of the property, providing a wildlife corridor and preserving the historic Otie Whiteside Trail in perpetuity.
The EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center and its open space would provide millions in income to stabilize our medical center, tax revenue to our Town for on-going road repair and revenue to the many businesses throughout the Estes Valley. This is a privately-funded enterprise that will re-invest itself over and over to our community for years. A conservation easement on the entire 6.88 acres does none of this except cost the Town and taxpayers millions of dollars.
I urge you to vote yes for the EPMC/Anschutz Wellness Center on Lot 4 and vote no for a conservation easement on Lot 4.
Realtor, Estes Park