Monday, July 22, 2019
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Council and Center looking for feedback… Give it to them

The Crested Butte Town Council did the right thing and took a breath at Monday’s meeting. Now they want to hear from you about whether they should consider the idea of totally replacing the current Center for the Arts facility.
The thought of expanding the Center has been in the community ether since literally the start of the century. But it hasn’t resulted in any physical growth. The board has done some things to prepare for an eventual expansion and lots of discussion has apparently led that board to conclude that starting over is the best move.
But because there has been so much talk and so little physical action, it’s not exactly a topic on most people’s short list. But when I walked into the Monday Town Council meeting to see the staff memo that started with “Request to Consider Demolition of Existing Center…” it caught my attention. It’s a weird thing to see and envision. It’s not necessarily a bad idea…but it is a bit shocking to consider it as part of a plan.
So the council took a step back. It took a breath. Some voiced support for the idea to upgrade the facility with a whole new building. Others didn’t want to comment at all until they’d heard from the local citizens. So they’ll bring it up again at the July 1 council meeting. In the meantime, think about it. It is a centerpiece as you come into town. It’s an important part of the community. Let your council representative know how you feel about the expansion in general and a possible demolition in particular.
Remember too that any Center expansion has a looooong public process to go through. There is no shortage of issues that will come up for debate if the board can raise the $10 million+ needed to expand. The expansion would eat up park space and that will be an issue. Adequate parking after tripling the size of the building to 24,000 square feet could be an issue. Just the size itself could be an issue. The impact of the Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center is a real issue. The board has regularly gotten support from previous councils for the concept and potential footprint of an expansion. But the rubber hasn’t hit the road and I’ve been here long enough to know that all that could change once real plans with real deadlines for real work come about and real people voice real concerns.

I think the local arts community is killing it here. For a bunch of right-brained artists, they are well organized, collaborative and certainly add to the flavor of this community. Surrounding ourselves with copious amounts of art—whether it’s dance, painting, music, sculpture, or theater—is indeed a benefit to all of us, spiritually, economically and balance-wise. The current Center facility has some real problems that need help.
In the meantime, the idea of the “demolition” threw me for a bit of a loop. But it might be the best move in the end. The Center reps made a good case for the action at Monday’s meeting. It’s certainly something to ponder (and you can call Jenny Birnie at the Center for the Arts or board president Melissa Belkin with questions)… and then tell your councilperson what you think of the idea.
Understand that the heavy machinery won’t be lining up outside the Center to start tearing it down or moving it somewhere else tomorrow…or likely anytime in the near future given the discussion history. But it is time to move the concept up a bit higher on the short list.

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