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Potential new community for county

by Brian Orr
WALSENBURG — Paul Hartford, of the Eco-Logical Institute, a non-profit organization, talked with the Huerfano County Commissioners on Wednesday about his institute possibly building an educational campus in Huerfano county.
Hartford’s planned community, which would take ten years to complete, and cost up to $30 million to build, would teach sustainability by being a living example.
The campus buildings and homes would be of ‘green’ construction and built into a south facing slope. Energy would be generated on site using wind and solar technology, though other sustainable energy production would be taught there as well during seminars.
Multiple water systems- fresh water, gray water and waste water, would be in closed loop systems with no loss, and the institute’s food would be grown on site as well.
Classes and workshops would be tuition-based, and would teach the sustainable concepts individually (i.e. just the water system, or just the energy system) or the entire concept of a independent sustainable community.
Huerfano County is one of five counties the institute is looking at building in, but Huerfano is their top choice. They have their eye on two potential properties that would be ideal for their needs. “This is where we want to be,” said Hartford.
Teaching staff would live on campus, but be part of the local community; sending their kids to school here and shopping here.
“Localization is a key concept here,” Hartford said. Local contractors and and construction crews will be reached out to first, with 35 to 50 jobs being generated within ten years.
The commissioners were receptive to Hartford’s plans, but didn’t leap out of their chairs in joy. Making sure water is on the property will be a key first step before building permits would be issued.
Commissioner Max Vezzani asked County Administrator John Galusha to work out having Hartford talk with the county planning and zoning commission for the next steps.
“We’re not hippies, we’re not treehuggers, and we’re not building earthships,” Hartford said. “We want to bridge the gap from treehuggers to conservative people.”

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