Unauthorized trail in Spanish Cr. greenbelt

Dear Editor,

One of the greatest benefits of living in the Crestone/Baca Grande area is our ability to enjoy the peace and serenity of communing with the natural world. Our unspoiled greenbelts offer a quiet respite, a sanctum we all can enjoy and in which native flora and fauna can flourish and thrive without the disruption and destruction caused by mechanized human intervention.

Over the past couple of weeks an unauthorized trail has been cut in the Spanish Creek greenbelt between Indian Well Way and Wagon Wheel Road. Cutting this trail has involved removal of flora—raspberry bushes ripped out, branches and small trees cut and tossed aside, etc.—as well as dead and down trees cut and moved. Two improvised bridges have been erected over the creek. Flags and ribbons have been set out marking the trail.

The purpose of this clandestine trail building, apparently, is to provide an off-road course for mountain bike riding. Tire prints are evident along the new trail, and erosion has already begun due to the poor soil conditions and topography of the area in which this trail has been cut.

Any number of POA covenants regarding public space in the Baca have been violated in the cutting of this trail. The greenbelts belong to all of us, and our continued enjoyment of the Spanish Creek greenbelt, as well as its ecology, is threatened by this unauthorized trail-cutting and use. We ask anyone who has information on who is responsible for this wanton destruction to please come forward and contact the POA office.

-—Bob Herman, Lisa Scalise, Noah Baen, Sandia Belgrade, Judith Yarrow Lawn, Larry Lawn, Paul Kloppenburg, Sugandha Brooks, Joanna Theriault, Catherine Alelyunas, Keith Conway, Margaret Vrana, Thomas Fox, Julia Voss, Everett Buss, Sherry Black, Jack Barton, Cheryl Waschenko, Tim Allen

Greenbelt  at risk

Dear  Baca residents,

We are writing regarding  our deep concerns about mountain bike trails being illegally blazed through the greenbelts behind our land and others, as well as along Spanish Creek. Perhaps elsewhere too.

We have owned property in the Baca Grants for  about 20 years. This bike corridor is less than a few feet from our rear border. It is even possible that there has  been trespassing. There has been destruction of plants, branches,  trees and several metal rung bridges built over Spanish Creek.

We plan to build a home near the rear of our property and this bike trail poses a very real privacy threat to our property and to all properties along any greenbelts. There have been no rights of way, easements, wood or construction permits granted for this activity. As a land owner, tax payers and POA members for many years, we feel these actions violate the sanctity of the greenbelt, break covenants, disturb wild life corridors, destroy natural habitat and violate the privacy of land  parcels that border the greenbelts.

The greenbelts are to be preserved for the future  enjoyment of all and are intended to remain in their natural state. Property owners must follow very strict rules. Allowing such rogue activity in greenbelts would certainly set a precedent  that could open other such destructive activities.

We ask that you report names and any information to the POA, so that appropriate sanctions, fines and possible consequences can be administered. This issue will impact all of us sooner or later. This community has taken strong stands to keep outside interests from destroying our natural environment. Why would we allow a few of our own residents to do the same?  Please sign the petition being circulated, call the POA and/or file a complaint if your greenbelt  has been affected.

Thank you,

Judith Yarrow-Lawn

and Lawrence Lawn

Local generosity keeps food bank in service

Dear Editor,

Community donations make up a substantial portion of the resources needed to operate the Crestone Food Bank. Fortunately, we have many generous supporters that help keep the food bank supplied so we can continue to serve the Crestone community, week after week, year after year.

In July, Cathy Amenta organized EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week which raised $500 for the food bank. These funds went directly to our account at the Mercantile to buy meat, cheese, and eggs—items needed by our food bank users. We are very, very grateful to Cathy and the local massage therapists who donated their time and hands-on work to provide us with this much needed food! And thank you to the community members who participated in this successful event.

In April, Bill Aldinger presented a drumming, flute and bowl concert that raised over $600. Thanks to Bill and generous supporters, we bought a freezer for the food bank that has improved our ability to keep more food on hand.

A special thanks, too, goes to the staff of Dharma Ocean. At the end of their retreats, organic produce and prepared foods are donated to the food bank. This is a special treat to many food bank users!

We welcome individual donations of food or cash, which can be delivered to the Crestone Town Hall during business hours. We are grateful for your continued support.


Denise Peine

Manager, Crestone Food Bank

Lakish announces for POA board

Dear Editor,

I have been a resident of Saguache County, have lived within the Crestone/Baca area since 1993, and have been a POA member since 1995. I have worked in education and social work, as well as in local businesses. I am employed by Saguache County Department of Social Services. Currently, I am on the Board of Directors of the Baca Grande POA and I am seeking to serve the remaining year of a three-year term. I have served in a volunteer capacity for a number of organizations, including SLV Ecosystem Council (SLVEC), Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (ScSEED), The Crestone Charter School, and on the Moffat School Board. I have been a writer for The Crestone Eagle and have been covering the Saguache County Commissioners meetings for over three years, as well as other local government, energy and agriculture topics. 

I am the mother of three grown sons, one of whom is currently a volunteer with the POA Ambulance as an Advanced Life Support EMT, for which he receives a modest stipend from the POA. When I am not working or serving my community, I find peace and inspiration in my garden, from the awe-inspiring landscapes, and on my forays into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

I feel that the next POA board should hold public educational forums to inform owners about issues and get feedback on owners’ desires regarding important questions. Should we renew the Hammersmith Management Company’s contract? How should dues be apportioned for consolidated lots? The Fire and Ambulance services are very important, and should be well supported, especially in this fire-prone area with an aging population. Should voters choose to fund the Crestone Fire Protection District, should the POA work with that district to provide emergency services to members? 

In 2013 a lawsuit was filed over the 2012 election at which I was elected. In order to help achieve a settlement to the suit, I volunteered to resign the last year of my term. If elected for the remaining one year, I will try to bring some peace, order, and sound governance to our POA community.

I urge Baca Grande POA members to vote for Sugandha Brooks and Joanna Theriault. Our team of dedicated women will work hard to restore clear, honest and positive communication with members. Thank you for your support.

Matie Belle Lakish

POA endorsements

Dear Editor,

Wouldn’t we all like a new kind of POA experience?  Well, after watching Matie Belle’s well-prepared, patient, respectful performance on the POA board I think maybe we could have it if we reelect her and give her some support. Matie Belle Lakish has been in a minority and often under heavy, unjustified attack by BGCAN both before and after they took over the board majority.   Her coolness under fire is remarkable.  No whining! Her intelligent reasonableness is refreshing. No evasiveness!  Her integrity is singular.  No blaming!  Let’s vote in October’s POA election for Matie Belle Lakish and two other mature, aware, responsible women: Joanna Theriault and Sugandha Brooks. Change is inevitable. Transformation may finally be possible!

—Anne Silver

A new direction for the POA board

Dear Editor,

This letter is about the upcoming election for the POA board. Those who attend POA meetings and readers of The Crestone Eagle are aware of the turmoil within the current board, engendering conflicts that have driven our community into antagonistic camps.

The majority of the current board is attempting to fulfill a narrow personal agenda (attempting to do away with lot consolidation, publishing a very biased POA Newsletter, seeking to end the contract with our management company) and seemingly self-destructing, drawing all of us in their wake. We need to elect the three of us to form a majority on the board and begin the process of renewal.

We (speaking for the membership in the last election) let the last election get away from us because of the threat of unreasonable lawsuits causing most people to choose not to run for the board. This intimidation has got to stop.

The financial status and activities need closer scrutiny by the board. Implementation of the recommendations of the financial risk study should be pushed as well as a comprehensive assessment of the dues structure. As a corporate structure we will employ sound business practices.

The three of us insist on a board that is transparent, sensible, concerned, responsible and professional. We respect the fact that our primary mandate is to maintain and enhance property values. We also understand we have different approaches to what that requires. We seek rational discussion as the only real way to assess our needs. We understand we belong to a unique community with unique challenges but we can meet them with input from all. We are not politicians but concerned citizens who want this place to be a prosperous, beautiful and fun place to be.

Come talk with the candidates at the Elephant Cloud Station on Thursday mornings between 10 and 11.

In celebration of our great community we will be holding a dance and fun event at the Elephant Cloud Station in mid-September. Stay tuned.

Sugandha Brooks

Joanna Theriault

Matie Belle Lakish

Vote for a new vision

Dear Editor,

I am writing in support of Sugandha Brooks and her vision for the POA board. I have known Sugandha for many years and know her to be a person of impeccable character, a calm and easy presence, and a clear  perspective on the needs of the community. She is a an active listener who speaks directly and without personal bias.  She has a solid grasp of the problems facing us, a deep interest in serving the community and a warm heart.

Sugandha is working closely with Matie Belle Lakish and Joanna Theriault who are also on the ballot and share her vision of a more cohesive and caring board that will listen and respond to the needs of the community.

  This new board will be such a welcome relief to our community as we recover from the fallout created by the actions of some recent board members who dominated the board through litigation.

 I would urge you to vote for these three talented and dedicated women. This is our chance to usher in a new era for the Baca Gramde POA Board of Directors.

Curtis Ramsay

Vote for good governance

Dear Editor;

I am grateful that Sugandha Brooks, Joanna Theriault and Matie Belle Lakish have decided to run for the POA Board of Directors. They will get my vote. I have attended many POA board meetings since November 2013 and these aforementioned individuals have devoted their time to regularly attend board meetings this past year. Matie Belle has hung in there as a director on the board, despite the unnecessary confrontations she has had to endure from other board members. We have an opportunity to bring a majority of decency back to the board. These candidates are all good listeners and have a strong understanding of the issues we are facing as POA members.   They will focus on unity, as opposed to divisiveness. They will be thoughtful yet decisive. As a POA member, I look forward to respectful dialogue taking place once these candidates are seated. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this positive transition. Please give the time and vote; good governance is essential.


Christine Canaly

Thanks to candidates

Dear Editor,

I want to thank Joanna Theriault, Sugandha Brooks, and Matie Belle Lakish for their integrity and caring and for having the courage to run for the POA Board.  Serving on the board is a considerable commitment, especially in these stressful times.  I know these three will bring their highest consideration for the well being of the community to the task and they have my vote.

Joann Reeves

Community in mind

Dear Editor,

We enthusiastically endorse the candidacies of Sugandha Brooks, Joanna Theriault and Matie Belle Lakish for the positions of Baca Grande POA Board of Directors. All three candidates are reasonable, intelligent and compassionate people who hold the good of the entire community in mind and who will listen to community input on the many difficult issues our POA is facing.


Joanna and Eli Dokson

Bad news

To the Editor,

Soon all Baca owners will be the recipients of our latest POA Newsletter. It is supposed to be “news” and fairly objective. Unfortunately this latest edition is filled with one man’s, and his fellow travelers’, opinions, slanted articles, misleading information and conspiracy theories. If that is not bad enough, we, the property owners are paying for it!

It was railroaded through the August 14 POA meeting by a vote of 2 (Bruce McDonald and Nigel Fuller) to 1 (Matie Belle Lakish voted no) with 1 abstention (Janie Thomas). Bob Garnett turned up for the board meeting earlier to find that his position of running the meeting had been usurped, so he left. I trust that our membership can see through this pathetic and desperate maneuver and banish the newsletter, unread, to where it really belongs.

This shameless bit of propaganda is meant to arrive with the election material and to drive a further wedge between residents and non-residents: “divide and conquer” is the name of the game. In their effort to garner the votes of the non-residents McDonald and Fuller have abused their power as directors and alienated their own community.

Go figure!

Martin C. Macaulay

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  Lot consolidation works

Dear Editor,

Our POA board majority surprised no one by promoting their personal agendas in the POA newsletter, at our expense.  However, as directors of a 501c3 nonprofit, they are legally bound to present balanced facts, something that seems alien to them.  They dissolved their own Lot Consolidation/Dues Structure Committee, apparently fearing that our conclusions might challenge their agendas.

The POA Lot Consolidation/Dues Structure Committee, which I chair, has been diligently working since April.  The more research we’ve completed as to why we have the One Lot; One Dues policy, the more we realize, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

This POA board wants to reverse the One Lot; One Dues policy that 90% of voting members approved in a binding Referendum in 1999 [1514 for; 160 against].  In 1998 a comprehensive member survey explains why the vast majority supports lot consolidation by giving an incentive to owners who invest their own finances to permanently reduce density, thus protecting that which we value: preserving pristine, natural beauty, scenic views, open space, and protecting our natural ecology and wildlife.

Lot consolidation results in fewer residences, thus lowering the demand on infrastructure services, e.g., road maintenance, emergency services.  Long term, fewer residences cost all POA owners less.

Any attempt to change our One Lot; One Dues policy would involve changing half a dozen sections of our governing documents, and invites another potential, expensive lawsuit for our POA.

This board claims “We’re hemorrhaging income.”  However, over the past 6 years, only 21 lots on average have been consolidated each year, for a “loss” in potential POA dues revenue of $5,523 or $1.40/lot.  Compare that with an average annual loss in POA revenues from unpaid dues of $200,000 or $51/lot.

The POA still has 3950 buildable lots.  Do we want that many homes here?  We don’t think so.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Respectfully submitted,

Kate Steichen

Friends of Library find Crestone location

Dear community members,

After much visioning, planning, and speaking with many like-minded community members, plus driving a gazillion miles visiting libraries around the Rocky Mountain regions from Jackson Hole, WY, to northern New Mexico, a plan for a new library came into focus.

Special thanks to Carol Lee Dugan, Library Director in Monte Vista; Jeff Donlan, Library Director in Salida; and our very own Sarah Koehn-Frey, Library Director of our Northern Saguache County Library District; and never to forget Suzanne McGregor, of our own Baca Grande Library.  I wish to thank them for all their wise input.  The first Friends of the Library meeting was called three years ago on September 29, 2011.  Twenty-one interested and like minded community citizens attended. Wow, the ice was cracked.

My main objectives were two-fold: 1) Create and build an interest and energy to move the present library into the immediate Crestone area; 2) Continue to support our present library and functions with small fundraising events, to help purchase needed supplies, and to keep our community aware of whatever progress we make.

A lot of time and energy has gone into this endeavour, and now as chair of our small but committed group, I am very pleased to announce that we have received our 501(c)(3) status. This means that all contributions are now tax-deductible.  Yes, we are now 501(c)(3) approved.

OK, where do we go from here?  The library Facilities Committee has unanimously chosen a wonderful site, and it is a work in progress.  The Baca Grande FOL will now begin meeting quarterly.  Yes, yes, and yes, we are on a roll.  I want to give thanks to all the hard work by our dedicated community members.  Let’s keep on rolling.

Thom Ontko, Chair,

Baca Grande Friends of the Library