(1946 - )
With roots in Wilmington, Vermont, Tandy arrived in the Evergreen area in 1980 with her husband, Peter.
The spirit of volunteerism began when their two boys started school – first at Montessori Children’s House, then at Bergen Elementary and later as Tandy took on leadership positions with school board and parent organizations in her sons’ middle and high schools. Tandy’s background was in teaching, so she had the perspective of both sides, something that set the tone for the role she would play in community service going forward.
But land-use issues were her real passion.
She’d been told by the developer of her subdivision in 1976 that the nearby meadow (known then as Noble Meadow) would be “green space in perpetuity.” That parcel of greenspace would influence her community involvement for decades to come.
In the 1980s when a large corporation applied to Jefferson County to rezone the 400+ acres of Noble Meadow for a hotel, golf course and equestrian center, Tandy was furious with herself for her ignorance of the impermanence of zoning.
She and others gathered to oppose the proposal. “Energy level was really high, and we were determined to defeat the proposal,” she recalled. “ We just had to figure out how!” It was the first of many meetings, petition drives, and letter-writing campaigns to county officials. The letters were carefully crafted; the arguments were well researched and well orchestrated; and the testimony was passionate. Tandy’s life in Evergreen as a land-use activist was born.
Development of North Evergreen and Bergen Park was well underway with large subdivisions and commercial complexes being built in quick succession in the 1980s and 1990s.
The formation of ENABLE
In 1984, after that successful effort to oppose the development of Noble Meadow (part of which has since been incorporated into Elk Meadow Park), ENABLE formed to discuss rezoning applications and to plan responses in the future, largely due to the inspiration of Sheila Clarke. Tandy was part of the founding group of Evergreen Area Balanced Land-use Effort – known more commonly as ENABLE – and has been credited by many with the sustainability of the organization in the three decades since its formation. She has served as its president on five occasions.
The watchdog group, which incorporated in 1996, is comprised of representatives from nearly two dozen homeowners’ associations north of Evergreen Lake. Jefferson County complied with ENABLE’s request to be notified of every rezoning case and land-use issue occurring between I-70 and the lake, and notices came frequently in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, as Tandy recalled.
“The mailbox was usually full, and we responded with letters and testimony before the Planning Commission and County Commissioners regularly after meeting with representatives of the 15 to 28 dues-paying member organizations and residents.
“We talked long about the issues that were relevant,” she explained, “like density with impacts on roads and schools, mountain architecture, appropriate landscaping, grading issues, road and driveway access, water, noise and air quality.”
During this period of tremendous growth for the Evergreen community, most decisions were being made by county officials who worked in Golden, not by people who lived in the immediate area. That was part of the price to be paid for Evergreen’s being unincorporated as a city.
In the absence of a local government, the citizen group helped monitor the quality of development that would define the area.
“After 1986, we were guided in developing position papers by the Evergreen Area Community Plan,” she explained. “The Plan was devised by a diverse group of local residents (calling themselves the Evergreen Advisory Committee) and 16 Jefferson County staff members to address all aspects of future growth in the area.”
Tandy as involved with updating the Evergreen Community Plan since its adoption in 1986.
There were dozens of cases where she and other ENABLE board members – as well as hundreds of Evergreen residents – presented their arguments for or against (mostly against) development. And there were numerous times Tandy has waited in the county hearing room in Golden with a knotted stomach for the County Commissioners to vote from their perch above the concerned citizens.
“We have fought erosion of the Evergreen Area Community Plan and worked on the revisions to improve it over the years,” she said with a sense of pride.
In 1990, WalMart’s proposal to locate next to King Soopers – where Rocky Mountain Village is currently located – was met with tremendous opposition. More than 300 people attended a community meeting to register their displeasure. Tandy summed it up as follows: “At the end of the presentation and after the question-and-answer period, the developer stood up and announced that he would never come back to Evergreen with a proposal!”
Prior to the formation of ENABLE, Jefferson County Open Space had purchased (in 1977) more than 1,100 prominent acres of land known as Elk Meadow. In 1983, high-density zoning was approved on the 166 acres south of Elk Meadow, now known as Tanoa. In the early '90s, Tandy and Sheila Clarke and representatives of nearby homeowners’ associations met numerous times with the developer, resulting in a reduced-density proposal with better site design and more landscaping, among other improvements. “We frequently reminded ourselves that the price for the preservation of the jewel of Evergreen – Elk Meadow – was the Tanoa development.”
With the vast expansion of the community came lights for homes and businesses, street lights, more headlights, lighted parking lots, and illuminated signage. “Evergreen residents had long complained about excessive lighting and the disappearing night sky in Evergreen,” Tandy explained. ENABLE proactively stressed the need for strict lighting standards in the mountains and foothills.
In time, ENABLE earned a reputation for thorough assessment and reasoned arguments in support of the Community Plan, and Tandy’s even temper and willingness to hear both sides of an argument tempered the perception that ENABLE opposed everything.
Parks and Open Space
Tandy worked with the Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) in the early stages of the final bid in 1995 to permanently preserve Noble Meadow – 408 acres of meadow along Squaw Pass Road and contiguous with Elk Meadow Open Space. There had been numerous efforts to stave off development, including one where developers sued Protect Our Mountain Environment (POME); POME took the issue to the State Supreme Court where POME prevailed. The decision ensured that citizens who oppose commercial and residential developers’ projects need not worry about intimidation lawsuits.
When the effort to “Save Noble Meadow” became MALT’s first big project in 1994, Tandy served on the Noble Meadow Task Force, which mobilized the entire community to conserve – in less than five months – most of the acreage as open space, using a small segment to develop as the Buchanan Recreation Center. A portion was purchased by Jefferson County Open Space, and the bulk of it was protected by a conservation easement, putting real meaning to the words “in perpetuity.” [see more complete story under the bio for Dan Pike]
Chuch Hazelrigg, co-chair of the Noble Meadow Tax Force, mandated highly ethical performance and professional behavior by all the volunteers on the Noble Meadow Task Force, setting a noteworthy example for all similar endeavors to follow. Dan Pike’s expertise in structuring a win:win deal for all parties set equally high standards. County officials who had earlier been turned off by the negative approach of Evergreen residents joined hands in celebration of the tremendous fete and began referring other communities to check with Evergreen to see how to put together a workable plan.
“I was thrilled when voters passed the bond to tax themselves to preserve the meadow,” she said. “Working on the Noble Meadow Task Force was among the most rewarding projects in which I’ve been involved.”
Tandy would go on to be elected to the MALT board where she served for 10+ years, also working part-time for the nonprofit organization. There she would be involved with conservation of the 5,000-acre Beaver Brook Watershed and dozens of other properties protected for scenic values, wildlife preservation, and conservation of water resources. “I had a special appreciation for the opportunity to work with the exemplary people associated with MALT,” she said.
Likewise, Tandy was involved with the earliest discussions about creating what has become known as Buchanan Park, linking Bergen Park (the Denver Mountain Park) to another 1,100 acres of undevelopable open space. It led to the formation of a new organization called the Evergreen Land Community Coalition (ELCC), a pro-active group that polled the community to gain insight and then urged the Evergreen Park and Recreation District to acquire more land near the Buchanan Recreation Center. The group took the lead on creating community awareness and stimulating turnout for bond elections.
ELCC – which consisted of just five or so industrious individuals, including Tandy – would also pursue the successful bid in 2006 to create the 11-acre Stagecoach Park near Wah Keeney and El Pinal.
Tandy served on several master planning efforts, including the one for Buchanan Park.
Tandy was part of the Art for the Mountain Community (AMC) board for 9 years where she participated in choosing sculptures to be placed in parks and other public places throughout the mountain area.
While land-use issues are the common thread for Tandy, the results of all her efforts are seen and felt community-wide. She’s one who can often be found in the middle, working with both sides, trying to find common ground and room for compromise. She’s a gatherer of public opinion and one who works hard at seeing it prevail, seldom in the limelight, and rarely taking credit for what she’s helped to accomplish.