Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Caddis Flats: Crested Butte’s most visionary move 30 years from now?

Kudos to the Crested Butte Town Council for taking the time to talk about the Caddis Flats project in general and then chat about details of the proposed affordable housing project this past Monday—and then making a definitive decision.
The council as a whole made it abundantly clear they are on board with the project and the location at Sixth and Belleview. It is a go and unless this Saturday’s Skiing and Drinking Santa event is really the first sign of the End Times in the Upper East River Valley, the council won’t change its mind at its upcoming meeting.
In fact, by the end of the meeting last Monday, several of the council members declared there was no better place in the world, if not the universe, for an affordable housing project than the entrance to town. It sounded like some wanted it front and center with a big spotlight shone upon it 365 days a year to emphasize Crested Butte’s commitment to “the people.”
As I’ve told proponent Karl Fulmer, no matter what decision the council made to allow or reject the zoning changes clearing the way for the project, people in this community will accept the decision and move on. Some will deal better than others but the strength of this town is not so much in its structures but in its people. So while I would have probably voted with Ladoulis on this one, given the tightness, size and site-specific location of the project, it will indeed provide housing for 60 or 70 or 80 people—workers in Crested Butte’s future.
I remember a former town representative bemoaning the construction of the Visitor’s Center at the Four-way Stop. In his mind, that was the straw that broke the character of this place for him. Others cried out when the grocery store went up. The Verzuh annexation crushed some residents as irresponsible growth. Few would argue that any of these projects have really destroyed the place.
Now, I will be surprised if, like some speculated Monday, 30 years from now this will be seen as Crested Butte’s most visionary statement of the millennium; that Caddis Flats will define Crested Butte as the bestest place ever in the galaxy. Come on, the curly fries at the Gasser are something to look back on 30 years from now as truly memorable. This will be one piece of many in the affordable housing puzzle. It’s good but it’s not the ultimate game changer for the town. However, I’ve been wrong before.
The bottom line is that it will now be up to the developers and BOZAR to ensure a nice-looking, long-lasting and well-maintained structure. Given the history of the designer and BOZAR, we should have some confidence in the look of what will be the largest building in town. The council addressed the honest shortcomings of the proposal and decided the trade-offs were worth it. That’s all we can ask for from our elected representatives and in the end, it again showed how a small town can effectively work, whether you agree with the outcome or not.

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