Wednesday letters: Ascendigo Ranch board, health care consumers, Cooper Avenue barrier, Glenwood growth, and Ascendigo neighbors
Ascendigo board voices support for proposed Missouri Heights ranch
Ascendigo Autism Services is a Carbondale-based nonprofit founded in 2004 by local parents right here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Ascendigo’s mission is “to elevate the spectrum by empowering people, inspiring lives and shattering expectations.”
Ascendigo Ranch is an inspiring, thoughtfully designed low-density project that meets the unique needs of individuals with autism by allowing them to enjoy and learn from rural recreational amenities. As proposed, Ascendigo Ranch will have approximately 42,000 square feet of improvements, substantially less than the alternative use, a subdivision of single-
family homes. Ascendigo has six buildings planned over 126 acres. In contrast, the single-family home option would have up to 21 buildings plus two approved ADUs. If approved, Ascendigo will develop the land in a significantly less dense and
Ascendigo is committed to environmental stewardship, water conversation and storage, and wildfire preparedness for the property. Our team of local experts includes land use planning, water rights advocates and traffic engineers. Extensive due diligence has been done to ensure stewardship of resources, wildlife protection, fire mitigation and open space. Meetings with neighbors and stakeholders have been productive and positive, resulting in a project that reflects concerns from local residents and increases access to services.
As local board members, we are not only aware of the details of this project, we strongly support it. Ascendigo is a local nonprofit with the goal to create an inclusive space, which we believe will honor Missouri Heights’ rural character and is well-aligned with other uses in the area. We are pursuing a mission that meets a crucial need for individuals with autism and related disorders to belong and thrive. Please learn the facts about the project at Ascendigo.org/ascendigo-ranch-
property. Ascendigo Ranch will be reviewed by the Garfield County commissioners as an educational facility, permissible under existing zoning.
Sallie Bernard, Aspen
Peter Bell, Basalt
Larry Butler, Aspen
Pete Hayda, Aspen
Frances Lewis, Carbondale
Julie Manning, Old Snowmass
Kate Weitz, Glenwood Springs
Health consumers in Garfield County deserve better
Do health care consumers in Garfield County deserve a quality, less expensive health care system? That’s the question in front of local consumers. As members of a health care advocacy group, we think the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Fortunately, in Garfield County, we have two organizations helping us solve our health care dilemmas.
Valley Health Alliance is actively working on a system that would significantly reform local health care beginning with primary care, which treats the individual in a holistic way. This solution would focus not only on hospitals, physicians and specialists but on everything affecting a patient’s health. The VHA has also worked hard to reduce costs in a way that keeps our care local, and it has brought competition back to the local health insurance markets. United Healthcare and Rocky Mountain Health Plans now compete directly with Anthem in the small group and individual marketplaces.
Next is Peak Health Alliance, which started in Summit County but could expand to Garfield and other counties. Our Garfield Peak would primarily concentrate on local negotiations between Peak, insurance providers and our local medical facilities. Those negotiations would be focused on reducing health care costs.
Having more insurance competition in the valley benefits all residents, and there is plenty of room for negotiation. Peak’s cost analysis shows that at the national level, hospitals have a profit margin of 7%, and locally it is twice that high at 15%.
Higher hospital margins drive up insurance rates and/or consumer cost sharing. Peak incents primary care by providing all outpatient care (including primary care and mental health therapy), with no deductibles. Removing financial barriers incents people to get care as soon as they need it, and to get it from their provider, not the emergency room. Grassroots folks need to join forces, creating an independent voice at the table.
On behalf of the Western and Rural Colorado Health Care Coalition coordinators, Scott Beilfuss, Emily Tracy, Bob Shivley and Paula Stepp.
Reverse decision to remove barrier on Cooper Avenue
Today, I gave one of my special neighbors (a gentle soul) a ride to pick up his car from the mechanic. He shared with me that since the barrier at 10th Street and Cooper Avenue was recently taken down, he counted 20 cars in an hour going the wrong way down Cooper Avenue. A neighbor’s child was almost run over by a car that was driving the wrong way down the one-way street. And, our most special neighbor on Cooper was pulling out of her driveway, and someone going the wrong way almost hit her car.
We have a lot of young kids and old people on Cooper. It sounds like they are in danger ever since some newcomer complained to Glenwood City Council because they thought the barrier that has kept people from driving the wrong way was ugly.
I’d like City Council to reverse its decision and put the barrier back at 10th and Cooper Avenue. We all take pride in our homes and keep them looking nice. And we like the barrier that kept our quaint street safe.
Gradual course correction needed on Glenwood growth
Mr. Gillespie’s letter (“Wait on confluence planning,” April 14) and Mr. Rob Anderson’s letter of some weeks ago encourage us to look soon and hard in regard to the issue of growth. Glenwood’s citizens have loudly and repeatedly implored our leaders to consider “small town feel” as the No. 1 planning priority, but the look and feel of Glenwood is fragile and is now in peril.
Multiple large new developments are being contemplated, none of which will add to our citizens’ quality of life. Quite the opposite, with inadequate parking, stress on water resources and increased congestion. We are headed down the rabbit hole.
I believe that it is beyond time to invoke the concept of a steady state community and a somewhat steady state economy. Many European communities have done this very successfully, particularly in mountainous areas that depend on their natural beauty and recreation resources to draw tourism. We are both that and a regional economic center and will remain so, benefitting from the current and inevitable growth of smaller communities around us.
It is well known that residential growth does not raise enough tax revenue to pay for the additional services required to support it. Perhaps, as a control on growth, we limit the percentage population growth we allow to the percentage growth of our commercial tax base? But whatever mechanism we employ, now is the time to bring it forth.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a great believer in capitalism. People taking advantage of perceived economic opportunities has benefited our country enormously.
But unbridled capitalism can lead to hurtful excesses, and we are headed in that direction. Of course, we have community members with a vested interest in growth whom we need to treat with respect. A moratorium on growth is neither the correct nor the desired course of action. We need a gradual course correction that will turn us onto a sustainable path to the future most of us envision.
Ascendigo camp ‘not OK’
I was born and raised in this valley. My parents were among the first to move down valley in the early ’70s. I moved back to the valley and purchased my home in Missouri heights in 2014. Recently, it came to my attention the Ascendigo Autistic Services group in Carbondale has applied for a permit to build an almost-50,000-square-foot facility in the middle of our rural neighborhood. This is not OK. This is a rural community composed of single-family homes and ranches. Commercial enterprises have no place in the middle of this quiet neighborhood.
Ascendigo has applied to build structures rivaling the size of a Walmart Super Center store, permanently housing more than 100-plus people and guests, restaurant food services, conference centers, barns, stables, caretaker cottages and a parking lot for 100-plus cars. There is even a plan for a man-made lake.
Their development would propose an additional 450 cars a day added to our two rural dirt roads. This is a 50% increase on our roads.
In addition to an already super scarce water supply (Did I mention they are building a lake?) and the dreaded fire threat — adding this kind of drain to our limited resources up here is not acceptable.
Let me be clear: Ascendigo is a worthwhile enterprise, and what it does for autistic children is phenomenal. But that is not the subject here. In a time when corporate America has essentially taken over every corner of our country, we have to stand up to this commercial corporate bullying.
Missouri Heights is zoned as residential; rules don’t change just because they want them to.
Ascendigo’s plans do not fit with the rural environment of Missouri Heights. There are plenty of places on the valley floor to accommodate such an enterprise.
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