The ideal retirement community |

The ideal retirement community

Bill Kight

Lately, the thought of retirement has been occupying my mind enough to cause some serious thinking about where my wife, Linn, and I would like to live out the rest of our lives.

Big cities are out. The one I’ve been stuck in for meetings the past week is definitely not on my list. Denver’s brown cloud is a constant reminder of how, as human beings, we foul our own nest.

The traffic in Denver is not something an older person wants to face day in and day out. But the traffic in our valley has been giving me increasing heartburn.

Do I want to stay where people are in such a constant hurry that rude driving behavior has become the norm instead of the exception?

The biggest question for me is simply this: Are the qualities of life that attracted me to this valley still present? If so, then staying here is an option; if not, it’s time to plan for moving away.

The opportunity for outdoor recreation was at the top of the list when we moved here more than 20 years ago. That hasn’t changed. Living in a beautiful place is still very important and goes hand-in-hand with this quality.

But more and more people are drawn to our valley for the same reasons. Like it or not, increasing numbers of people recreating on the same piece of public land brings conflict. How that conflict is resolved will play a large part in our decision to stay here or leave.

Public discourse, debate and dialogue over the use of our public lands are growing more contentious. This causes me great concern because it means we are losing the second-most important quality that drew me to where I now live.

Community spirit is the best way to describe what this is. The willingness to sit down together and be able to discuss any issue in a civil manner is what makes small communities work.

This core value has been present in every local nonprofit board that I’ve had the privilege to serve on over the past two decades. Our sense of community calls us to serve one another.

Why do we seem to lose this ability to compromise and collaborate when the public arena grows larger?

Many people seem unwilling to accept any restrictions on their use of public land in the face of increasing demands on its use. We can’t all have it our way, and only our way.

Maybe I’m crazy thinking that we can collaborate together locally in a community spirit to help solve the difficult issues that face recreational use of our public lands.

But I’m committed to giving it a try. In the twilight years of my public service with land management agencies, it has become my passion to leave a legacy of collaboration.

When I retire to the public sector, a community that wants to help solve the dilemma of how we best use our public lands is where I want to live.

Writing from more than 25 years of firefighting with federal land management agencies and hiking in wilderness, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs shares his stories and thoughts with readers every other week.

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