Point of Beginning

The scandal in Boulder that won't go away

March 13, 2008
A trail dubbed “Edie’s Path,” is key to a lawsuit seeking to take possession of a $1.2 million parcel in Colorado, but the surveyor now says he never observed such a path and was pressured into drawing it on his survey.


The scandal in Boulder that won’t go away
 
The scandal that people are still talking about in Boulder, Colo., isn’t the murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey; it’s about a rich couple “stealing” land from their neighbors -- and getting away with it in court. The latest tidbit involving Dick McLean, a former Boulder Mayor and district court judge, and his wife, an attorney, was revealed recently by local police. It seems that in December, someone sent the couple a package enclosing bullets and a threatening letter (“Back in the old West we had a way to deal with your kind…”).
 
Police said they’ve gotten nowhere on finding the perpetrator, but as a sign of how contentious the issue remains, several online commentators in the Boulder Daily Camera insisted that the couple had sent the package to themselves to garner sympathy.
 
You might wonder why this story about a pricey lot on the ironically named Hardscrabble Drive could rouse such passion. But the land, surrounded by publicly owned open space and spectacular mountain views, is one of the few remaining undeveloped parcels in the neighborhood, where homes sell upwards of $1.2 million. Don and Susie Kirlin have owned the lot since the mid-1980s as part of their retirement plan. In the meantime, they live less than a half-mile away.
 
Like lots of property owners, the Kirlins had never heard of the legal doctrine known as adverse possession before it struck home. Throughout history, the law has helped squatters to acquire homes and farmers and ranchers to gain title from absentee owners. In contemporary times, it’s most often invoked to settle boundary disputes where walls and fences encroach on neighboring land.