Bald Eagle Watches Over Private Lake

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Bald Eagle Watches Over Private Lake

by Ari Armstrong, February 6, 2004

It's almost as if Freedom herself has swooped down to watch over the property rights of Colorado citizens. A bald eagle, one of America's most-recognized symbols of freedom, has been sighted around Columbine Lake in Arvada. That property has become the focal point for a debate over the use of condemnation, in which a city government forces the transfer of private property to another private owner.

Gary Wildung photographed the bald eagle as it perched in a tree on the shores of Columbine Lake. This beautiful spot was deemed "blighted" by the Arvada City government, a legal fiction used to rationalize the theft of private property facilitated by city officials.

On Sunday, February 1, citizens and state legislators gathered near 58th and Independence to rally against the abuse of eminent domain. Deb Hamm, a local activist and Libertarian who runs web pages about Arvada and Westminster, reported, "Today's rally was an exceptional success." She said that, in addition to the state legislators, Jessica Peck Cory from Arvada Citizens for Responsible Government and the Independence Institute also addressed the crowd.

State Representatives Shawn Mitchell, Lois Tochtrop, and Fran Coleman addressed the February 1 rally (photographed by Deb Hamm).

A February 2 story in The Denver Post reported the legislators and citizens "gathered with picket signs and petitions to try to protect nearby Columbine Lake from being condemned for a Wal-Mart development." The story, written by Brittany Anas, continued, "Mitchell introduced an eminent-domain reform bill in January, arguing that seizing land by condemnation has been abused by cities that want to boost sales-tax revenues. HB 1203 would prohibit governments from transferring condemned property to private interests... A House committee will hold hearings on Feb. 9 at the Capitol to hear from citizens."

A report from Save Arvada's Lake fills in some additional details: "The Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA), determined this lake to be blighted in 1981 and is now using this same old determination to 'take' this lake from it's rightful owners and give it to the wealthiest corporation in the world."

That web page comments, "The Constitution of the United States of America clearly states that they do not have the right to take private property and give it to a private business... We also have the right to petition government for redress of grievances. But this Arvada 'government' continues to demonstrate that they are 'above' us and we must do their bidding. They are dead wrong! We the People are their boss! And it is We the People who must deny city officials... from continuing on the path of the destruction of our RIGHTS!"

The report continues, "One of the petitions is to stop the 'taking,' by eminent domain, of a privately held lake (which the owners have stated that they do not want to sell) and giving it to Walmart to drain, fill in and pave over a portion of it for a truck turnaround. This should come as a wake up call to all who own property... it could be YOUR HOME next!

"Channel 2 News did a segment last night (2/1/04) which featured Linda Wambolt, Deb Hamm and Jessica Peck Corry, who basically said on camera, that Walmart must follow the same rules that you and I must, for Walmart to stop using the government, and for them to purchase the lake fair and square. Bravo Jessica!"

And bravo, citizens of Arvada who are defending the rights of us all.

The Colorado Freedom