by Bob Reece
CUCHARA AND LA VETA– Organizers of the Cuchara Mountain Resort Project say they are very pleased with the results of two community meetings that took place last Thursday in Cuchara and La Veta.
Before standing room only crowds, Bruce Cantrell spoke about the project and its importance to the community. Over 135 people packed the Cuchara Recreation Hall, and nearly that many, over 125, filled the Community Center in La Veta.
Cantrell took time to introduce his core team of leaders who have been working on the project for several months. Cal and Karen Sandbeck, Jimbo Wetsel, Bob Baker and Marshall Moore, were all praised for their efforts in bringing the project to fruition.
Cantrell presented details of the project, and emphasized how important it is for the community to get behind the effort. He then answered questions for more than a hour in each meeting, to clarify citizen concerns and communicate the correct information.
Among their concerns, the impact of this project on property taxes, increased traffic and maintaining the beauty of the Cuchara Valley.
Cantrell explained that any tax impact will be on those who live inside the Metropolitan District. When formed, the Metropolitan District will encompass the 225 acres of land included in the purchase, and those who choose to build a home or buy land inside the district may have an additional mill levy assessed on their property, but will see a benefit as well. At this time, the only property owners inside the district boundary will be the Cantrells. Those who live elsewhere in the Cuchara Valley or anywhere else in the county will not have their taxes affected by this project.
Cantrell answered traffic concerns by stating that visitor projections call for only about 100 cars traveling up Highway 12 on an average day. The beauty of the area will be maintained, Cantrell said, because architectural standards will be enforced. He encouraged the audience to be proactive with county officials about developing design standards throughout the county. “Nobody wants the beauty of this valley to be destroyed,” he said. “That simply will not happen.”
Jim Gill was introduced as the new general manager for the resort, bringing nearly 40 years of experience to the project. Starting as a ski patrolman in 1971, Gill rose to become general manager of Breckenridge Ski Area by 1978. Of Mr. Gill, Cantrell stated, “this is what we′re talking about when we talk about talented people; this is the type of talent I bring.”
“The reason the community should back this project,” Cantrell said, “is that it will create a sustainable, year round economy and create significant job opportunities throughout the county.” County officials estimate the resort will employ as many as 100 people when completed and will create as many as 500 additional jobs throughout the region. A number of volunteer opportunities will also become available over the coming months.
Community leaders are enthusiastic about the possibilities for the project. Gerald Van Nort, chairman of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water Board has reviewed a number of different proposals over time. “The current endeavor is the best one I′ve heard presented,” Van Nort stated, “and I′ve been here 25 years.”
Bob Reece is the editor of CucharaValley.org, a daily blog about life, events and the people of the Cuchara Valley.