The scene at the Cimarron Heritage Center was grim last Thursday.
The crowd was stacked against Richard Andrews, of ODOT, Pam Lewis, of OU, and Cimarron County’s own Phyllis Randolph.
Andrews, Lewis and Randolph, were there in what was a futile effort to save a project they’d been working hard for, for nearly five years.
The Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway, was to meander through Cimarron County and join up with a similar trail in Union County, New Mexico, alas, neither is to be.
The group, landowners in Western Cimarron County, and Eastern Union County were there to protest and stop the byway. They had already been successful in Union County a few days before.
The landowners in the Dry Cimarron, an independent lot, were concerned that the byway was moving hand in glove with Pinon Canyon, a land grab that Baca County, Colorado has been fighting for several years. (The Boise City News has ran several articles about this atrocity.)
Though the crowd had showed some antimosity, it was the late arrival of a polished spokeswoman from Baca County that really tipped the scales; with her arrival, and her use of a brightly colored map, the die was cast.
While everyone had been speaking in firm, but low level voices that were hard to hear over the heater, this woman took the rhetoric and volume up several notches, and she got the response she wanted.
All the plans made for the byway, In Cimarron County at least, (I can’t speak for Union County, but I’ll bet it was the same there.), were above board. Each time there was a meeting it was either announced in the coming events of this newspaper or in the minutes of the Chamber, sometimes both. (And it made no difference if the meetings were held in Folsom, Boise City, or at the lake.)
The byway could have brought tourist dollars and their taxes into the county, and when out of town money and taxes come, we all win, and our schools and hospital win.
As Andrews, Lewis and Randolph tried to make counter points, they were often rudely interrupted and shouted down. What responses were allowed were dismissed with disdain.
Landowners were concerned the document could and might be changed to disallow them access to their property or to use it as they desired.
Andrews tried to explain that when you were dealing with the U.S. Government anything is possible, but this wasn’t good enough.
Indeed the crowd should understand that almost any document can be changed; the U.S. Constitution has been amended several times.
I daresay, many of the people in that room would like to see the Constitution amended to include prayer, stop abortitions and to make English our official language. Change, any change, good, or bad, you see, is in the eye of the beholder .
The Supreme Court recently ruled that land could be taken by imminent Domain for purely business encroachment. With or without the byway, these landowners could still lose their land down the road.
In that room, that day, wasn’t the friendliness Cimarron County is renowned for; people were rude, and they bordered on calling Andrews, Lewis and Randolh liars.
I’ve never been close to a lynch mob, and though last Thursday’s crowd wasn’t a lynch mob, I don’t want to be any closer.
The word for the week-vexing.