Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Compromise struck over location of Arts Center

Pitsker will stay. BOZAR will do the detailed review.

Monday evening, the Crested Butte Town Council reached a compromise over the location of an expanded Center for the Arts. The council gave the okay to allow the building site to be moved north of the sidewalk bordering the parking area and basketball court. But it will still sit about 60 feet away from the left field line of Pitsker Field.



The compromise site approval keeps Pitsker Field where it is in its current configuration and size. The Center for the Arts expansion can be constructed while the current building continues to operate.
The Alpenglow area will expand and that will allow for some larger soccer fields. The high school-sized field will remain at Rainbow Park.
Play areas and courts will be shifted somewhat and up to 78 parking spaces are still being proposed for Seventh Street, but a new building zone gives more flexibility to an expanded Center for the Arts.
“At the last meeting we heard four major things,” said town planner Michael Yerman. “Leave Rainbow as it is. There is a desire to see the Center stay open during construction. Look for alternative locations for Pitsker Field and look at the potential of making a new Pitsker Field south of the Center geared toward Little League.”
Yerman said the staff determined making Pitsker a Little League field would hamper too much softball programming. Alternative sites for Pitsker focused on the Town Ranch. That came with a big price tag due to wetland mitigation that would be needed to place another field in the area.
The town staff was still okay with the 2009 council resolution that basically allowed construction to be between the current space and the sidewalk. “But after looking for a site that met all the criteria, we think we have an alternative recommendation that is a win-win for everyone,” said Yerman.
The planner said moving the building into the green space north of the current location but not onto Pitsker Field would work with an adjustment to the sewer line that is situated beneath the Whiterock Avenue right-of-way. The building could go about 60 feet north of the present parking area.
“The building zone would still allow for an outdoor art space. There could be a sculpture garden and plaza. The center board has agreed with our request to have a landscape architect look at the plan as part of the design process,” Yerman explained.
Yerman emphasized that the recommendation dealt only with the potential building site. “The design review will be handled by BOZAR [the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review]. It will be a lengthy process and that is where the massing and size and actual design will get analyzed,” he said. “There will be several public hearings and opportunities to comment with the BOZAR process.”
“So all the fields stay where they are. The Mary Yelenick play park would move but stay in the area. The Center would not have to shut down for a year. It seems like a good solution to me,” said mayor pro tem Jim Schmidt, who ran the meeting while mayor Aaron Huckstep was out of town.
Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center executive director Woody Sherwood said, from a professional point of view, the new proposal seemed like a great solution. “On a personal level, I planted the aspens that are north of the Center when I was part of Rocky Mountain Trees. Those are four memorials and after 20 years the trees look great. I would like to see them not get lost in haste,” he said.
Rob Boyle lives near the Center and asked the town to keep the scale of the building in mind as the process progressed. “Maybe they should consider not one big building but some satellite buildings as well,” he suggested.
“This appears the least disruptive of all the proposals,” said citizen Sue Navy. “It looks better to me.”
“Bravo for the process and the people involved,” added resident Glo Cunningham. “Thanks to everyone for finding a different solution.”
The council also gave an ovation to the town staff and the process. “I really appreciate the town staff’s time and thoughtfulness,” said Councilman Skip Berkshire. “The process worked well.”
“I appreciate the center taking the time to slow it down a few weeks,” said Councilman Shaun Matusewicz. “This is a good site.”
“I am glad the process ended up with this,” said Councilman Chris Ladoulis. “It’s a solution to be proud of. BOZAR will deal with the actual design but the council is comfortable with this location.”
“Hopefully we can find a way to make it inviting for people to park at the Four-way,” said Schmidt.
The new resolution passed unanimously 5-0. Huckstep was not at the meeting and Councilman Roland Mason stepped down due to a potential conflict of interest, given his wife works for the Center for the Arts.

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