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Saving the Valley One Beer at a Time


In the back of my cupboard, there’s a plastic beer cup collecting dust. It has a drawing of a cow screened on it—it is perhaps my favorite cup.

It serves as proof of my donation to the save the Valley Floor just outside my favorite ski town (and former home) of Telluride. One day toward the end of the ski season, there was a street party to celebrate another great year on the hill, and raise some money to preserve the pristine Valley Floor that serves as entrance to town. For years, a developer, against the will of the people, has tried to build a golf course, hotels and condos on the wetlands. The town, just prior to my arrival, voted to condemn the property in the name of open space preservation.

Neal Blue, the owner, has fought hard to save his development dreams. The town has fought back. Even harder. Raising millions of dollars for the legal fight and the eventual purchase of the land, worth $50 million, according to a court ruling.

Blue brought his fight to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled yesterday the town had the right to force the sale and save the open space.

Blue has said all along it was the wealthy elite, not the town’s everyday men and women, trying to block his project, which means he should be able to build and prosper as he pleases.

That’s a load of you know what. I paid five bucks for that cup at that street party five years ago and I chipped in another 20 or so to a donation box. I made about $11 an hour living in one of the most expensive towns in the state. Hardly wealthy elite, I was. But I am part of that fight as were all my friends (none any wealthier than me), coworkers and acquaintances.

The will of the people of Telluride has spoken loud and clear, over and over: They (me included) want open space guarding their precious town.

Thankfully, the courts agreed.
—Jacob Harkins

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