In response to various letters that have appeared in the local newspapers during the past two months, please note the following corrections of fact:
Ascendigo is NOT requesting new zoning. Garfield County staff rendered the opinion during the pre-application phase that our proposed use fits under the ‘Education Facility’ land use, which is an allowed use, but one that requires approval by the Board of County Commissioners. This project will not change any zoning in Missouri Heights to commercial use.
Missouri Heights IS the ideal location for Ascendigo Ranch. We have engaged a team of local experts who are following industry standards to closely examine traffic mitigation, water usage, availability and storage, wildfire preparedness and land management. Our application details the availability of these resources, the infrastructure that is in place, and the improvements we will make to accommodate the development. Most important is that the autistic individuals we serve will thrive in the safe and serene setting offered in Missouri Heights.
Increased traffic will be mitigated. Ascendigo’s traffic study completed by McDowell Engineering determined peak day vehicle trips will generate up to 210 trips per day on Harmony Lane, NOT the 450 trips reported in the letters. Furthermore, Ascendigo’s planned use projects only 26 peak days per year, 20 during summer and six during non-summer. Traffic volume during non-peak time periods will be considerably lower than alternative uses including the development of a subdivision of single-family homes, estimated at 269 vehicle trips per day.
Numbers matter. Maximum residential capacity will be 82 individuals (NOT 100-plus people). Proposed parking calls for 94 spaces dispersed across the 126-acre property in 8 designated areas (NOT a parking lot for 100-plus cars). Our main basecamp building will have indoor-dining for 72 people (NOT a conference center or event venue that hosts up to 250 people).
We encourage community members to visit our website at ascendigo.org/ascendigo-ranch-property for more information and to learn the facts of this inspiring project.
Ascendigo Management Team
Re: Ascendigo Ranch
In response to the letter from the Ascendigo Board I would like to assert that they are presenting a false narrative. To say “meetings with neighbors are productive and positive” is contrary to the opinion of the more than 380 neighbors that have signed a petition in opposition to this development and the vast majority of property owners who came to Monday’s tour (April 19). We came with hope of getting real answers, but yet again the details changed right before us and is another sign of dishonesty by Ascendigo.
My home is directly across the street from where they plan to have their entrance. We were told in July that it was an “eight-week summer camp,” a quiet and small operation. There would be a camper lodge, dorm for interns, a pond for agricultural use and a maintenance barn. This is not what we heard from Dan Richardson and his PR team at Monday’s tour. Not only will there be 24 campers and 48 staff (2:1 ratio due to higher needs to support these campers), the building plans have changed to accomodate housekeeping, laundry, medical, caretakers and a guest lodge. Catering staff would come daily and not reside on premise. And 94 parking spaces! Presumably to accommodate family dinners on Fridays and Sundays and other non-summer programs. A smaller capacity camp in May and September is planned and other non-residential programs in fall and winter. We were suspicious from the beginning, in part because the drawings included a sledding hill – not a summer activity. I can list dozens of items that have changed or have been misrepresented, from water usage and increased traffic to the frequency of ambulance visits.
This program would likely strain our local emergency responders in this remote area, not to mention disturb longterm citizens, day and night. My husband and I have been ardent supporters of and have helped many people with autistic family members. We appreciate the mission, but are disheartened by the clearly dishonest approach to placing a large corporate facility in the middle of this tranquil residential area. The message is clear – Ascendigo will say whatever is necessary to build their facilities in this neighborhood with disregard for the harm it may cause others.
Re: re: Ascendigo Ranch
Ascendigo Autism Services has been a stalwart part of our mid-valley community for decades – providing much-needed nurture for those on the autism spectrum and providing support for families that cannot address all of the behavioral and mental health needs of their dependent children. Ascendigo also employs dozens of skilled caregivers, and thereby contributes meaningfully to our community and economy.
Ascendigo has identified an optimal property – 126 acres in Missouri Heights that it proposes for a ranch that will expand care and service to children on the autism spectrum. Sadly, facts are being misrepresented. So here are the facts:
Ascendigo is a non-governmental organization that provides nationally-recognized health and education services to people with differential learning.
The property is already zoned for “educational purposes,” and to this end the ranch will construct six buildings, including a barn, and a stable and riding ring that are the quintessence of our valley’s rural landscape.
Ascendigo will also construct buildings where they will teach, nurture and support campers, house counselors, and provide administration. This is a far cry from the 20+ high-end homes that will otherwise be built under the approved planned development. The intense pressure on resources, notably water, wildlife habitat, and transport will be far greater under a housing development.
Many homeowners in Garfield County, where the Ranch will be located, embrace the project because it will preserve open space, viewsheds, and the rural way of life that attracted them to the Heights, and us to the valley.
Advent of the Ascendigo Ranch on Missouri Heights represents an optimal land use that will better protect the social, environmental and economic values that we all want to safeguard in the Roaring Fork Valley. Garfield County commissioners are implored to protect against suburbanization, wanton sprawl and expansive residential home-building by welcoming Ascendigo Ranch.
Bill and Betina Infante
Dispatch from Marble
In approximately 30 days, Marble and the surrounding backcountry will begin its descent into a throbbing, congested hellscape of internal combustion engines. Last summer, we saw an unprecedented number of visitors and an exponential increase of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV). This traffic is unmanaged and unregulated. There are no bathroom facilities and the headwaters of the Crystal River continue to be fouled with toilet paper and human waste. If immediate action is not taken, an environmental and human safety crisis is imminent.
We have been imploring our elected officials to take action for years. A county road OHV ban is not a radical or untested idea. It follows the same model that Aspen successfully implemented a few years ago and is the only viable option until the Forest Service can put together a permit system.
Gunnison County has the authority to reinstate this ban immediately, but apparently the town and the county have concerns about possible repercussions. These concerns should be clearly defined and directly addressed, not dismissed with vague generalities and false narratives. Affected residents should be allowed to contribute to the discussion, not shut out of private meetings and work sessions. If business interests are to be considered, so too should the property devaluation of homeowners who live on the front line. And when our representatives present arguments based on incorrect information, they need to be called out.
Colorado is potentially facing another summer of extreme drought conditions. Considering that one very popular OHV manufacturer recently recalled hundreds of thousands of their vehicles due to fire hazards (yet these machines continue to burst into flames even after the recalls), the fear of forest fires is real.
Fire extinguishers, spark arrestors and low-emission/low decibel exhaust systems should be mandatory on all OHVs traveling in the National Forest, but until there is sufficient enforcement, a ban is essential.
The wilderness belongs to all of us. So why won’t our commissioners take a meaningful step toward protecting it? Please ask them.
I would like to give a warm Carbondale welcome to Officer Jerry Alcorta! Jerry has recently joined the Carbondale police force. I first met Jerry at the ice rink years ago where both of our boys play hockey together. Hockey parents spend a lot of time together in cold and smelly rinks at random hours of the day. Jerry is a parent I always enjoy chatting with. He puts up with my “what if…” questions regarding anything from traffic stops to teenagers getting into mischief. His answers are always thoughtful, bringing in the other side of the argument that I sometimes forget. I could not think of a better addition to our community. He has years of experience, a calm and friendly nature, and is fun to hang out with. I hope to see you around town, Officer Alcorta. Welcome to Carbondale!
Glancing down I spot
$20 looking lost
Misfortune my luck
Crow cawing loudly.
No answer from companions.
Crow flaps off, alone.