Resident Ariel Atkins sent this photograph and message to The Times-Independent following a July 2 public hearing on a potential ban on future overnight lodging development.
“As retired folks, attorneys representing clients, business owners, young activists, investors and developers congregated at tonight’s Grand County Council meeting, there was a quiet group of local families working together to participate in the democratic process,” said Atkins.
“Attending lengthy local government meetings is a privilege that can often exclude the masses. Single parents, people who work evenings, people who travel for work, people who lead the meetings as government employees, people who work two jobs, as well as people who quite frankly don’t have the energy or support to work a full day, put dinner on the table, find care for their youngsters and show up to voice their concerns. The voices heard are not always representative of our entire community,” said Atkins’ statement.
“In an effort to be a voice in the democratic process and to express our perspective on the overnight accommodation moratorium, a group of seven young families (all children under 5, and one unborn) showed up … to play on the courthouse lawn, eat pizza and tag each other out with the opportunity to listen in or voice in during the meeting.
“It is important to us that diversified investments are being made in our community. Rather than arguing about property rights, perhaps we should shift the conversation to property opportunities/responsibilities. Overnight accommodations are not the only means to get a return on your investment.
“While they may be the easiest and most profitable, they are only good for a select few in our community. I challenge those individuals, investors and developers with such opportunities to make wise, diverse and creative investments in our community. These investments will require a fair bit of work, cooperation, ingenuity and they might not offer the absolute highest return on financial investment.
“I would argue however, that with a growth mindset, some benevolence and collaboration, those with property opportunities could have sound investments that have financial returns and look out for the greater good. Win-win. You can have your retirement fund and bring good to your community, we just need to look beyond overnight accommodations and selling out to out of town interests.