The End of the Line

A farewell to the Moffat Tunnel Commission, Colorado's most madcap state agency.

January 1995: Stung by Cass's threat to "build a Taco Bell" on the commission land leased to the resort, Winter Park and Southern Pacific team up on a bill that would eliminate the commission. Jakubowski brands the effort a "cowardly act."

January 1995: The commission sues Winter Park and threatens to kick it off its land. It demands that the Arlberg Club, which also leases property to Winter Park, disclose its membership roster.

February 1995: At a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee on the ski resort's bill, Jakubowksi hands out an information sheet accusing Winter Park of attempted larceny. The bill dies in committee.

March 1996: Running out of cash and under siege from Winter Park, the railroad, the Denver Water Board, the mayor's office and the governor's office, the commission throws in the towel. The commissioners agree not to contest a new Winter Park bill seeking their extermination. The resort, eager to begin a new base development, agrees to purchase the Evans Tract for $2 million. The commissioners still can't help gloating a little about having held up the resort's development for at least two years. "As pompous as Jerry Groswold is," notes commissioner Dick Rudolph, "he was probably physically ill when he signed that settlement."

December 1996: After learning that Romer has snubbed him and his colleagues by appointing five new people to take their places in the commission's final year, an enraged Jakubowski calls an emergency New Year's Eve meeting. He unveils a suicide plan, under which the board would vote itself out of existence before Romer's appointees can be seated. The plot is foiled when attorney Gatlin throws a fit and the other commissioners chicken out. "I watched three human beings turn into Larry, Curly and Moe right at the meeting," laments Jakubowski.

January 1998: The new Moffat Tunnel Commission sells the water tunnel to the Denver Water Board for $7 million. Jakubowski says he's proud of his successors, even though he tried to screw them out of their jobs. The railroad tunnel remains an asset of the state.

January 1998: Walter Cass continues to practice law and play engagements with the Cassio Strings orchestra. Longtime tunnel-board assistant Doug Freed offers an epitaph for the agency: "Sometimes it's good to go out with a whimper." The still-simmering Jakubowski isn't so sure. "In seven years, we went from good old boys telling fish stories to doing war with the SP railroad, Wellington Webb, Roy Romer and the General Assembly," he says proudly. "We rivaled Dennis the Menace."

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