Statement of Environment Colorado Land Use Associate Pam Kiely

Environment Colorado

“The choice of the Arapahoe Grasslands team as a conservation partner affirms the fact that the state can meet their fiduciary responsibility to the school trust through conservation uses. As Commissioner Peter Walsh explained at the public meeting, ‘this is a great example of how we can maintain revenue for the land board, for the trust, while maintaining conservation principles.’

“Unfortunately, today Governor Owens’ land board also gave away 3,000 acres of state land, a portion of which is specially designated Stewardship Trust Land, to the Lend Lease development team. The development of the top portion of the property was clearly a pre-determined outcome. The decision today to move forward was not only premature and made without the due diligence required of such a massive regional effort, but beyond that it has laid the groundwork for what will become state-sponsored dumb growth.

“We are disappointed that the despite the fact that a formal process was never instituted to actively encourage and incorporate public input, and a variety of regional implications have been left inadequately addressed, the board has steamrolled through choosing a development partner in under 6 short weeks.

“The timing of this decision is suspect. The fact that numerous special meetings have been called, including today’s meeting with 2 business days left until the holiday break, signals boldly that there was a dramatic desire to make this decision immediately. Given that there are many more questions than answers that are currently on the table, and that this land is not going anywhere, it is only logical to wonder where the urgency is coming from.

“While it may be by chance that this decision coincides with the departure of Governor Owens, appearances most certainly are otherwise. The board has voted to push this forward in the 11th hour of an outgoing administration, and integrity calls the events of the past few months into question.

“Clearly there is too much at stake for the citizens of the Denver-metro region and the state of Colorado for a decision such as this to be made hastily, behind closed doors, with politics overshadowing rationality. “