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Letters to the editor

Dear Editor,The recent news regarding the purchase of a conservation easement on the Nieslanik Ranch was very disheartening. While I support the preservation of open space and agricultural land as much or more than most residents, I feel that conserving land atop the East Mesa in Carbondale is inappropriate and very shortsighted. I think we need to take a step back and look at the big picture. First, we need to ask ourselves if we believe that the economy of the Roaring Fork Valley is sustainable without ensuring that the people that live here and keep it going, mainly construction-related workers and service industry employees, can find a place to live? I think the answer is no. It is clear that we need affordable housing. The only way to address the shortage of affordable housing is to build more affordable housing. Next, we need to recognize that building enough affordable housing to have a meaningful impact will require that it be built on what is now open land (most likely agricultural land). To avoid sprawl and promote walkable communities, the obvious place to build such housing is immediately adjacent to or within established municipalities. A large portion of the East Mesa is within Carbondale’s “Urban Growth Boundary,” as established by the 2000 comprehensive plan. It does not make any sense to remove land from development that is located within an UGB, especially when the goal is to discourage suburban sprawl. It is my opinion that the Aspen Valley Land Trust is actually working against its goals of preserving open space when it pursues conservation easements such as the one on the Nieslanik Ranch, as development will now be pushed further outside Carbondale. I strongly encourage a valley-wide symposium on affordable housing where planners, open space advocates and developers can sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan that identifies how we can meet the need to supply affordable housing while simultaneously preserving critical open space. Clearly, the piecemeal method that is now in place is not working.Louis WilsherCarbondale

Dear Editor,As I walk around our town in this season of joy in the land of plenty, one questions nags in my mind. Why haven’t I heard or read anything in the paper about the homeless woman who froze to death, other than the facts of her death and the funeral arrangements?Is this not a glaring defect in our community and in our hearts? No religious leader, public official or socially aware person has responded in any way. Are we content to say “that she is in a better place,” and what does that say about us and our community?We have places to swim, play hockey, build our bodies and keep our criminals. Churches, schools and other public buildings, plus extra rooms in our homes, all heated, but no place for a disenfranchised person to escape the cold on a free and regular basis. Buster the dog, parrots and other animals fare better in our community than our own species.No one was looking out for this woman. As we gather with our friends and families during this Christmas season, we should think of one of our own who bears the mark of Cain and falls through society’s cracks. We better hope it is the dog, “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” OdettaGregory DurrettGlenwood Springs


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