LETTER: Dr. Syzek Responds to “Gravel Pit Wars” Series

Dear Editor:

I enjoy and appreciate Cynda Green’s series of articles on the Salida “Gravel Pit Wars”, and would respectfully like to add a few observations.

The owners of expensive homes along the “gentrified” CR 140 corridor are not the only folks in opposition to the gravel pit. How about the Boardmans and the Delucas, who live very close to the pit and whose families have been here for a century? How about other residents who have lived nearby for many years in modest homes?

Not that Ms. Green has portrayed it this way, but I don’t think the gravel pit issue should be characterized as a class war of wealthy NIMBY’s vs. a self-serving ex-county commissioner & mining company. This should be an open, respectful and robust debate about the risks & benefits, based on facts and concerns without resorting to demonizing.

There are very real concerns about health effects of noise, dust, and emissions; safety issues of road & traffic; decline in property values and net effect on local economy and tax base; short-term benefit vs. long-term harm; appropriate use of modern road technology; and the duty of county officials to represent, protect, and act in the best interest of all county residents.

It is incumbent on the applicant for the proposed gravel pit and our county officials to directly address these key issues and proactively prove what is stated in the application, as Ms. Green pointed out, that “the change in land use [from grazing to surface mining] shall not cause any impacts to the surrounding area.”

The pending decisions of the Planning Commission and the County Commissioners on this proposed gravel pit may be viewed by many as a bellwether for the future direction of Chaffee County.

Thanks again for Ms. Green’s illuminating reporting.

Thomas E. Syzek, MD
Salida

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