Predicting the future

Thursday, June 2, 2022


There is a saying that old physicists accept new ideas when they die. They say that change comes slowly in the Paradise Valley, one funeral at a time.

It is the next generation that brings new ideas to their full fruition. Garrett Hardin, who wrote about the Tragedy of the Commons, said that lots of seemingly small changes to an environment create an entirely different landscape than what was originally there. It is difficult to be part of the old guard and not wanting

It is difficult to be part of the old guard and not wanting change. Today we see change is happening regardless of our time on the clock. Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. One cannot protect what one wants without facing the changes that are happening around them now. If you don’t like the new pig farm next door you can not do much about it. To think that government is the problem is to miss the point. Self-regulation in any form gets messy when the masses try to self regulate.

Remember the sign at Tombstone … visitors must leave weapons at the sheriff’s office or have written permission to carry. Even in the 1880s the West wanted some reasonableness in their communities.

We all care about clean water, bucolic scenery, fish in the river and elk in the hills. But the new turn lane off U.S. Highway 89 South onto East River Road did not happen because the neighbors were tired of the traffic jams and accidents at that intersection. There was planning and coordination between the community and the state.

It seems to be fine for someone to sell off a square mile of their property to anyone with the money to buy it. This current plan makes a millionaire of the seller and a big question about what the purchaser will do with the property. And the seller is your neighbor.

With over 3,000 undeveloped land parcels in Paradise Valley, they will be sold off as the owners decide to sell off their parcels piece by piece or in divisions. Think of the water wells drilled. Think of the septic systems put in use. It certainly will create a market for more well drillers and more septic system pumpers in the area. Imagine the Paradise Valley with 3,000 additional homes. Additional fire and 911 assets will be needed, a wider Highway 89 and changes to East River Road and the paving of the Old Yellowstone Trail to Emigrant and beyond. As all of this occurs without any oversight someone will have to pay for all the infrastructure and amenities that go along with development. Affordable housing is needed for the folks who will provide the services associated with any development. Xanterra and Sage are building housing for their employees. All the rental housing stock has been converted to VRBOs. I have heard some oldtimers complain they can not find help because the help can not find a place or the rent is out of their reach financially. Be careful of what you wish for. No zoning equals no workforce to wait on your table, fix your appliance, clean your house, be casual labor for your business or respond to your 911 call for assistance.

The current plan of no zone is a good plan ... for disaster. Unrestricted development can be seen from every road in the Paradise Valley. It has been said recently that the most dangerous invasive species on Earth is the Homo Sapien. As Pogo said so long ago: We have met the enemy and he are U.S. The Park County Planning Board has a really hard task. They need our support. No one is going to make you paint your door blue or red but there is a need to face the future looking forward and not looking back.

I for one do not want to see a sign at the entrance to Paradise Valley that reads: Where Nature Done Her Best. Do not drink, swim or take fish from the Yellowstone River.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. When we create the future we can have clearer expectations of what is to happen. Support for the planning process in Park County can provide something for everyone. Keep Ag, clean water, sustainable public lands, meaningful development, while avoiding the whims of speculators and out of country mining operations.

Peter Murray



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