Since Oz and I have been walking to work from in-town locations, we only get out and about in our own neighborhood on weekends. Last Sunday we took in what used to be the highest of my holy days, High Water Weekend for the Gunnison River; instead of rafting, which I haven’t done in decades, I just watched muddy water rush by.
Mostly, though, we inspect the State of Things. We have a neighbor named Fred, who is married to Lisa, whom I have known since the health food store was owned by someone else and occupied space on Main Street. Lisa worked there back then, and she was nice long ago and is still nice today. Fred is a very affable fellow, and as neighbors they’ve been both friendly and helpful.
Recently they adopted Rufus the Airedale puppy, one of those few dogs (at least for now) that Oz actually wants to play with instead of just greeting and getting along. We frequently run into Fred or Lisa or Rufus or some combination thereof while gamboling about the neighborhood.
Near the end of the Before Time, Oz and I crossed paths with Fred and Rufus over by the house that’s been under construction since January. It’s the Ford house, and the owners’ current address is in Texas; I wondered aloud to Fred if this is going to be a second home or if they might be moving here. I figured Fred would know, since he’s on the HOA board.
But Fred let me down. He knew it was the Ford house and that was it. What is the point of talking to someone on the HOA board if they aren’t going to give you insider information?
He also said he only knew of three construction projects planned for this year here at Riverwalk: the Ford house, and two spec houses by the family trust that still owns 15 lots, not for lack of trying. They maybe have decided the lots will sell better if houses come already installed.
Of course, that was back in the Before Time, and so far I’ve seen no sign of any spec houses — although a lot nearly opposite Fred and Lisa is now under construction. Plans must have been submitted sometime after my conversation with Fred, but I admit to being surprised, because this lot is owned by the people who have been among the most vocal in expressing their displeasure about the communal nature of this development.
My guess would be that these people bought a riverside lot without doing due diligence on the nature of the beast, this private-public hybrid the original developers put in place to keep their costs down. Everything in this development, including the roads that all manner of the public access, is intended to be private — except for a ring of public trails, mostly undeveloped, that goes around the entire perimeter, including along the riverbank.
Earlier this year the attorney who lives here sent out an e-mail noting that the county had completed its survey of the riverside trail, wanting to know if any of the landowners were planning to sue the county before the HOA invests in a rail fence to separate the trail (or riff-raff) from the landowners (the landed gentry). Like most broadsides sent out by the attorney, we only hear the beginning of the story and never the end, and I guess when next I see Fred I should ask if anyone is planning to venture into the world of frivolous lawsuits.
If anyone was going to, I thought it would be this lot owner who instead (or maybe in addition to) is starting a house. He got very angry at all the foot traffic on a clearly-marked path that is included within his lot lines, and paid a lawyer presumably big money and directed angry phone calls and e-mails to all the board members and the resident attorney, determining that nothing in the documents allowed this path to be anything more than ditch access for the City of Gunnison.
This prompted the resident attorney to get prescriptive easements from all other landowners whose lots include the interior (private in theory but hardly practice) trails. This includes the Fords, whose house is set quite near a big curve on one of the trails and who inexplicably opted for a large bedroom window facing the trail to the east rather than the green space to the west.
If this lot owner was that upset by people walking along the boundary of his property, what is he going to do about all the people who would love to walk or fish alongside the river? And yet, here he/they (I think the ownership includes a woman) are, knocking down trees and digging a foundation. Clearly I need another path-crossing with Fred.
Fred and I had a different mathematical approach to the same number, which I found interesting. I was looking at trends and he was looking at averages as we both acknowledged this is a bad neighborhood to live in if you don’t like construction, because it seems likely to be a construction zone for one to two more decades.
We counted 10 completed houses plus the guest cabin, leaving 34-ish vacant lots. A few people bought lots in pairs, including the Fords, so complete build-out seems improbable now. Fred looked at the age of the development, 15 years, and figured we could expect one house per year.
For several years, though, no building took place out here. Starting about five years ago houses did start popping up one at a time, but last year three of us completed construction. Currently two are underway, with — if we can really believe Fred — two more planned, plus I thought someone at the HOA meeting in December sounded like she was planning to build this year.
It could be that the current economy will change plans for some people, but looking at the evidence and doing the math, it seems safe to project that we could all be part of a construction zone for the next several years. Or, if we’d like to be more positive: a neighborhood-in-progress.