Sept. 2, 2009: They saved us from bigger problems

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To The Editor:
A recent letter claims the “negativity to development” of Save the Mountain had the “unintended consequences” of the “most severely depressed economy in the entire region” for 40 years. Haven’t the letter writers tuned into the news this past year?
Save the Mountain was formed to minimize the destruction of our mountains by the Belleayre Resort project, not to prevent development anywhere else. Our economy is depressed because the nation’s economy is depressed. Las Vegas and Phoenix approved and built resorts and golf courses and housing developments without questioning where water to keep them going and people to fill them would come from. The resulting booms (largely speculator to speculator sales) were followed by record bankruptcies and foreclosures. Some of these same unfinished developments are unsaleable at any price, and are being torn down because it’s cheaper than the costs of holding on.
The Belleayre Resort developers undertook a massive gamble in the upscale market fever that overtook the country. The country is now suffering “unintended consequences” of this fever, in the form of bailouts to the same banks and speculators that raked in billions in bonuses and fees while everyone else got screwed. They made us believe “if you build it, they will come, and they’ll pay any price.”
The Belleayre Resort never made economic sense. It turns out the upscale market is a lot smaller than the hordes of people willing to sell to them. I believe the resort developers intended to put together all the elements, permits, tax breaks, etc., sell the project to a bigger investor, take the money, and run. Now that their gamble is not paying off, they are scrambling to sell the land to the state, threatening to sell to another, less forgiving, developer if their price can’t be met. The idea is to get an inflated price from the state for land that is mostly unbuildable. It is not our obligation to provide a developer with profits when the market can’t.
In the meantime, although our area suffers an economic downturn with the rest of the country, we are far better off then those who never questioned motives or promises of developers. The “Save the Mountain” people saved us from a disaster. I am proud to live where people are smart enough to have done so.

Gabrielle Kirch,
Andes