Jack BestallOwners representative of Byers Peak Ranch, LLC.

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April 23, 2013
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Op-Ed: Changing facts to bend around the circle

In a previous column, I noted that comments made at recent Byers Peak Ranch annexation hearings sounded like stories you hear around a campfire; the facts change to fit the bend around the circle. In some cases the facts flop out of the circle - yes, like fish. The thing is that some people will do anything to keep Fraser like it is and to try to influence the Fraser board's decision on the annexation even if it means telling big fish stories - whoppers even. One of the stories you will hear is that Fraser has been soft on the agreement. To determine if they have, ask yourself if you would be willing to pay for and guarantee 60 acre-feet of water storage, or invest $40 million in infrastructure without any subsidy or guarantee of success, recognizing the town you are investing in has had a steady decline in revenue for the last 10 years? This is what Fraser is requiring in the annexation agreement. Is that soft? A story bordering on a whopper is that Fraser will place itself at risk if it makes an agreement with the owners of Byers Peak Ranch. These are the same owners that live and work in the Fraser Valley and have been involved with development since 1999, taking the Maryvale plan and working with their partners to make it a reality. They have kept their commitments and complied with Fraser's regulations while completing Cozens Meadow Neighborhood, Cozens Pointe Condominiums, Village at Grand Park General Store, the Grand Park Community Recreation Center, and the Foundry Bowl & Cinema. These owners helped Fraser with the Consolidated Sewer Treatment Plant by guaranteeing the town's debt on its construction, which resulted in making water releases to the Fraser River compliant with state water quality standards. You will also hear fishy tales about environmental impacts - even in the face of ground-breaking work like the biological assessment of the lynx for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a boatload of projects that speak to the owner's genuine concern about the environment and their support of the local recreational lifestyle. Projects include: The Fraser River Open Space dedication to the town; construction of new wetlands and water storage ponds; 15 miles of barbed wire replaced with wildlife-friendly wood fences similar to the original at Cozens Ranch; 5 miles of public accessible hiking/biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing trails and a Frisbee golf course; and a forest management plan that led to the removal of 1,200 acre-feet of pine-beetle infested trees. Another whopper has been perpetuated about not caring about the community - and yet the focus on education, recreation, cultural, and social projects through the Cornerstone Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit initially funded by Cornerstone with $500,000 has contributed nearly $200,000 to Grand County nonprofits like the Fraser Valley Elementary School, Fraser Creative Learning Center, Grand Kids, Winter Park Horseman's Association, and the Grand Foundation. Many events have also been hosted for groups like the Grand Kids Fall Festival, Fraser Valley Recreation Duathlon, Habitat Hobble, MS Society-Muckruckus, Run for Independence-Children's Hospital and NSCD Cross Country races.It's not like it's all been calm water fishing and there haven't been rapids along the way, which is typical if you are getting something done, but the record of commitment, investment and giving back is clear. Byers Peak Ranch will be developed; the risk for Fraser is if it doesn't benefit. If Fraser annexes Byers Peak Ranch and it never develops, the worst case for Fraser would be that it secured critical water storage, a 6 acre-foot municipal parcel, and long-term development control for the Town at no cost. There will always be fish stories - it's tradition. The Fraser Board has a fiduciary responsibility, and basing decisions on whoppers isn't prudent unless you want to pretend things can stay the same, but that may mean muddy water. Jack Bestall is principal of Bestall Collaborative Limited, Evergreen, and the owner's representative of Byers Peak Ranch, LLC, and Downhill Adventures, LLC.

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The Sky-Hi News Updated Apr 23, 2013 08:25PM Published Apr 23, 2013 08:23PM Copyright 2013 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.