Commissioners deny river park, festival venue
Before the county commissioners on Monday was an application that would have been the first step in seeing Garfield County host its own music festival, but after hours of public comment and deliberation the commissioners elected not to move forward with the project.
The meeting began with a presentation from the applicants, in which Jason Segal outlined his vision to turn the Laidlaw property, approximately 75 acres in between Silt and New Castle, into the Peach Valley River Park. Segal promoted the concept of a public river park, and proposed hosting a concert on the property, the Peach Valley River Festival, twice a year.
First, he proposed to host a concert next year for around 3,000 people as a sort of proof of concept.
“The rural nature of what we are doing is why we are here,” he explained to the commissioners. “I think a plan like this creates a vision for New Castle and the rest of the valley for the future.”
This Peach Valley Park Festival remained the sticking point for many nearby residents, who criticized the project for not fitting with the interests and expectations of the community.
Though the town of Silt wrote a letter of support for the project, New Castle Town Administrator Tom Baker spoke at the hearing over his concerns that approving this project would have a domino effect for other landowners to change their land uses for similar reasons and questioned the benefit to the community.
Peach Valley residents including Jamie and Chandler Roth also questioned whether the event fit with the area. Others expressed similar concerns about access, traffic, noise and other impacts.
In the end, the commissioners needed only minutes to make their decision.
“It’s not there,” commissioner Mike Samson said of the applicant’s proposal. “Don’t take it personally. It’s not the right thing to do on that property.”
His motion to deny, based on compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood and the general logistics of the proposal, was seconded by commissioner Tom Jankovsky.
“Not a one-time event, and I don’t see where this is in the best interest of Garfield County,” he explained. “This event does not fit the area.”
The proposal was denied 3-0, which received applause from the packed-house audience.