Opinion: Why we live here — in Grand Junction, Colo.
WHY WE LIVE HERE
Free Press Opinion Column
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We arrived in February 2010 because of a job with the energy industry. Everything was gray and I thought the Book Cliffs were ugly. This didn’t look like the Colorado from our honeymoon.
I soon discovered the Tabeguache trail system and left road running for trail running. People said “hi” when you passed them on the street. Our son started kindergarten at an incredible school. We spent the winter skiing at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
I decided the Book Cliffs were breathtaking. The peaches and wine speak for themselves. My husband kept turning down “promotions” to Houston until he was told he could no longer turn them down. So he left that job — a job he loved — and took a job with a local company so we could stay in the Grand Valley.
It’s now been over four years and we’ve never looked back. We’ve built a community of friends that all have similar stories – sacrificing lucrative careers in culturally rich cities full of “opportunity” in order to live in the Grand Valley and raise families where access to hunting, fishing, skiing, biking, kayaking, hiking, and cross-country skiing means stepping out your front door.
It isn’t easy — carving a living out of this desert. You have to make your own opportunities because they don’t exist in the job postings. The cost to fly from our airport is hard on entrepreneurs. You can’t drive across the valley without dropping your phone call and Internet is slow.
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Sometimes we have to fight hard for things that shouldn’t require fighting. I can’t think of a better argument for a Grand Junction rec center than the shutdown of the downtown splash pad because it was loved to death. The $35 million cut from the school budget in the past four years is insanity no matter how conservative you are.
The resistance to change is shocking. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I get that. Except that we are broke. Energy picked up and moved to the Front Range where they drill on private lands because we can no longer drill on public lands. A ban on fracking will be the final nail in the coffin for the primary industry that’s supported this community for decades. People leave for better opportunity elsewhere. Small business suffers. Sales tax revenues suffer. Schools and public facilities suffer. But some of us stay. For all the reasons above and because we believe that something great is on the horizon.
Colorado Mesa University continues to grow and attracts students that want the lifestyle offered here (if we could only figure out how to keep them after graduation). The medical facilities are impressive for a town of our size and tend to draw active, well-compensated medical professionals. The Avalon Cornerstone Project — deemed dead in the water just one year ago — is weeks from completion. Las Colonias Park is moving forward and will begin construction this fall, opening up our riverfront to a variety of recreational uses. Events such as the Grand Junction Off-Road are ending up here instead of Front Range destinations, bringing with them thousands of people from outside the community to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and ride on our trails.
Every day I see vehicles with license plates from states as far as both oceans in the parking lots of my favorite trail heads where I can run and get home by the time my kids get up for breakfast.
We have over 10,000 miles of trails in the Grand Valley. It’s our future. It’s why we live here.
When not fundraising for the Avalon Theatre, Robin Brown coordinates special events for downtown Grand Junction. She’d like to hear why you live here. Contact her at email@example.com.
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