Springs groups send strong message to Governor Ritter

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Colorado Springs business groups sent a statement of opposition yesterday to Gov. Bill Ritter’s support of legislation that blocks the sale Pinon Canon land – and they didn’t mince words.

“Members of the Quality Community Group are stunned and extremely disappointed with the governor’s expressed intent to sign HB 1317,” the statement said. “All the arguments offered in support of this decision pale in comparison to the mandate to provide our men and women in uniform the necessary training to fight and win our nation’s wars, today and in the future.”

The statement went on to call the legislation an “aggressive assault” on the rights of land onwers. It said it “sends a chill throughout the fabric of the freedoms we enjoy” and that the group is “challenged and dismayed” that the governor took action without initiating dialogue .

Stephanie Finely, Springs chamber of commerce president of governmental affairs, said the strong message was necessary.

“It’s too important to the region,” she said. “This pits one community against another and that’s detrimental to our region. We need to help our elected officials understand that.”

The governor’s office has not responded to the message, and Finley doubts it will, but she hopes it will prompt more consideration about the Pikes Peak region in the future.

“We’re hoping this galvanizes the governor into a more thoughtful approach to our community,” she said. “What we’d like to see is some leadership in helping two groups come together to reach a concensus.”

 The Quality Community Group is comprised of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. and the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association.

Business groups are worried that the legislation will send a negative message to the Army and to the rest of the military in general, which is the cornerstone of the Springs economy.

10 Responses to Springs groups send strong message to Governor Ritter

  1. Yet the Army has yet to clearly justify the purchase or use of the land, so what would the business community expect the governor to do? Until the Army provides justification for the land the argument is pointless.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

  2. Govenor Ritter has “consulted” and has been open to “dialog” very few times, all along while pushing his agenda through fast (like Obama has done with the Fed Gov) in hopes of nobody catching it or having time to debate it. He has shown over and again HE DOES NOT CARE. Nearly every tax he has been able to get his hands on has been raised this year. You don’t see it too much yet, but you will…..

    John- Colorado Springs
    May 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

  3. This message is directed to Ms. Stephanie Finely.

    With all due respect – this whole proposed expansion pits one community against the other….NOT HB1317. The Pikes Peak Region would benefit, but Southeastern Colorado will not. I encourage you to visit our website http://www.pinoncanyon.com and read the articles from the late 70s and early 80s. Economic benefit was promised to Las Animas county back then and the county agreed to the current site…and then all of the “economic benefits” were pulled, one by one. The county has not even received the PILF taxes yet!

    There have been plenty of “leadership” trying to find a “win-win”. Where have all of you been? This issue has been going on for 3 years now…and now you all are trying to solve it? There isn’t a win if a rancher or other landowner loses their property because of this expansion. I know, I know….the Army has taken emminent domain off the table. But, if one person sells to the Army, which is their right, their neighbors are now in jeopardy. The Army cannot conduct maneuvers on a patchwork quilt. They need continous land….so….someone in the middle sells and everyone around them will have their land condemned so that the Army has viable space to use. THAT is how this works. Please wake up and realize this.

    And as far as leadership goes….MY elected officials, Rep. John Salazar and Sen Ken Kester, represent me. THEY have watched how the Army has treated us down here…with no respect. THAT is why they have taken such a strong stand with us. And they too tried to find a way that all would win….but it’s just not possible when you are talking about someone’s home…a home that they don’t want to leave.

    I understand how important the expansion of ANY military base is to Colorado Springs. But are we to pay the price for the poor management of El Paso County and Colorado Springs? We aren’t closing any county offices down here. We live within our means…and our economy is a strong one based on our ranching community. We don’t want YOUR economy down here! We see how well it is working for you.

    Please understand that we mean you and everyone in El Paso County no harm. Just please don’t harm us. My dream is on my land….that dream cannot be transferred. My land makes my heart sing. Which is maybe something you cannot understand…but that does not mean it is any less important than what your dream is.

    Please reconsider your position. These are your fellow human beings that you are messing with…not some inanimate object. Please do not take my dream from me.


    Shelley R. Quartiero

    Shelley R. Quartiero
    May 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm

  4. The Pikes Peak Board of Realtors, Chamber, EDC, and CSHBA are behind this. Enough said. So where have these groups been the last few years that this has been debated?

    “…The statement went on to call the legislation an “aggressive assault” on the rights of land onwers. It said it “sends a chill throughout the fabric of the freedoms we enjoy” and that the group is “challenged and dismayed” that the governor took action without initiating dialogue.” I guess the rights of land owners who don’t want the expansion don’t count, huh? And as far as the accusation that the governor hadn’t “initiated dialog” on the matter, it’s just irresponsible and incorrect to say that.

    Moe DeLaun
    May 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  5. The poll you are taking does not represent reality. The money moved from the PCMS expansion would have gone into Las Animas County landowners’ pockets, not the Colorado Springs economy. Those funds were for buying land from willing sellers…of which there are none.

    Shelley R. Quartiero

    Shelley R. Quartiero
    May 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  6. Where were the members of the Quality Community Group, and the realters, and the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce when House and Senate hearings were held on HB 1317. That’s how the process works. It’s not the Governor’s job to conduct a re-do on legislation after it has been through hearings and debates and voted upon.

    I’m sorry that Colorado Springs’ economy is so completely dependent upon the military. That is a tough situation. But down here in SE Colorado we are pretty dependent upon cattle ranching. This issue has set our two communities against each other. But in many ways we will continue to support the Colorado Springs economy, as we always have. I am currently shoping for a new car and I’m looking in Colorado Springs as well as Pueblo and Trinidad. (Of course I’ll buy it locally if I can.)

    I know that you are fearful that the Army will take offense if they can’t expand Pinon Canyon and retaliate by cutting investments in Springs. But I don’t think you should worry too much about that. If the Army is really as short on training land I doubt that they would abandon Fort Carson or Pinon Canyon. This is what they say about the current site; ” “PCMS surpasses the training experience of any Combat Training Center in the Continental United States.” It would be pretty silly of them to pull out of Colorado Springs just because they can’t have more land at Pinon Canyon.

    The State of Colorado making a judgement that they don’t want to sell lands that are set aside to generate revenue for our schools is hardly an “aggressive assault” on the rights of land onwers. It is a responsible action by the stewards of our state resources. It is one thing to violate the property rights of private citizens to buy and sell their land. But it is an entirely different thing to exersize oversight of agencies of government who are using our money to transfer State and Private land to the Federal government.

    How much of Colorado’s land would you like to see Federalized? How much of Colorado’s economy would you like to see militarized? I’d say 40% of our land area, and 40% of your economy ought to be plenty.

    Doug Holdread
    May 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  7. I see a lot of emotion in the comments posted on this issue so far. Emotion is good so far as it goes. Unfortunately, public policy cannot be effectively made on the basis of emotion. It is a good thing that the landowners affected by Pinon Canyon love their land. These are good people with long-standing connections to the region. On the other side of the issue are other good people – some with similarly compelling reasons for wanting the Pinon Canyon expansion to proceed.

    Because the proponents of the two sides of this have not been able to reach agreement, the issue now falls on our elected representatives to sort out. Our elected leaders must de-emotionalize the matter. The Governor and others leaders must recognize that they are charged with making the BEST decision possible for their constituents as a whole. Regrettably, when tough decisions are made some will likely be happy and some will likely not be happy.

    The fact is that the Army needs a place to train. An adequately trained Army is essential to our national defense. Wherever the Army trains there will be economic consequences at the local, regional and state levels. The Governor’s job is to maximize the benefit to all of the citizens of Colorado. I believe the maximum benefit to Colorado will be achieved by keeping the Army in Colorado. The national security will be served by providing a place where our troops can train. Regional businesses will benefit by the increased activity throughout southeastern Colorado. People needing employment throughout southeastern Colorado will have increased job opportunities as the result of both government and private sector business growth. Colorado will benefit as a whole by solidifying the Army’s presence at Fort Carson.

    Regrettably, there will be those negatively affected by the Army’s expansion of Pinon Canyon. For some the negative impact will be substantial. Nonetheless, when considered against the gain the the region, the state and the nation, the right answer is for the Governor and our other elected representatives to support the expansion. Expansion of Pinon Canyon is the best choice for the majority of those affected.

    Knowing the way emotion controls politics, and the Governor’s apparent predisposition against the project, I am not confident that the right thing will be done.

    Chris - Colorado Springs
    May 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm

  8. Shelley, why does your small group continue to deny that there are willing sellers in Las Animas County who ought not be intimidated by an angry mob of ranchers and farmers? Why should Gov. Ritter be more concerned with the 10 local families who hate the Army instead of 5 million Coloradans who will benefit from Fort Carson’s expansion? $17 million just got sucked out of our state and is headed south to Louisiana. Do you see any connection between Colorado’s hostility toward the military and the Pentagon’s recent decision to locate the new Cyber Command and its 400 jobs elsewhere?

    Dick Burns
    May 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

  9. Mr. Burns,

    Our very large group speaks with the current affected landowners on a daily basis. We live amongst them. That is how we know that there are not willing sellers. Do you live amongst them Mr. Burns? Do you speak with them on a daily basis? We are not an angry mob. And NO ONE hates the Army. We care about our troops. Many of them are from this area. I cry when watching our troops return home. I travel quite a bit and have given up my seat on the airplane so that a soldier could get home quicker. Please do not accuse us of being something that we are not. Many of us are veterans. But we are trying to protect our way of life. Sorry that you can’t seem to understand or care about that.

    The 17 million was targeted for landowners pockets, not Colorado Springs. And no, there is not a connection. The decision to locate the Cyber Command was made well before this decision by the Army to move those dollars.

    The Army isn’t going anywhere, Mr. Burns. They tried to railroad this process through, which worked before. As stated just yesterday by Secretary Pete Geren during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, “We got off on the wrong foot with the landowners in the Pinon Canyon area and I acknowledge that…….I’d like to see us take a pause and do a better job of listening to the landowners…”

    This isn’t going away and why would any entity put money into a fiscal year budget before the project is that far along? They redirected the money to where it could be used right away. Makes sense.

    And just maybe, El Paso County and Colorado Springs should try to attract other industries besides the military. That area is so desparate that they are willing to sacrifice someone else’s livelihood, to boost their own. That just plain isn’t fair. And you need to know, that I love Colorado Springs. It is one of the most beautiful areas ever, nustled right up against Pikes Peak with the Garden of the Gods right there and lots of outdoor activities. Its a great city. But I love Southeastern Colorado too with the Indian Paint Brush in bloom, and the baby calves running around playing, the Golden Eagles flying above, and being able to see as far as the eye can see. It really is something!

    This is an emotional subject. And it takes a big toll on those directly affected. Holidays, birthdays, marriages, etc….none of it is quite as bright with this dark cloud hanging over our heads. And, I guess, unless you are living it, you could not possibly understand. But, please, just try.


    Shelley R. Quartiero

    Shelley R. Quartiero
    May 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm

  10. Hey, Shelley, have you read the news today?! Texas Sen.Kay Bailey Hutchison would like to rob our local Fort of its troops and transfer them to Fort Bliss. Does any of this sound familiar? Have you and your band of agri-thugs threatened to burn any barns lately? What what you do if the federal government jerked your farm subsidies? You might have to work for a living like the rest of us here in El Paso County! That’d be something, wouldn’t it?!

    Dick Burns
    May 27, 2009 at 7:51 pm