Parking is number one priority
By Aimee Eaton
With the termination of the Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center’s Biery Witt Center project, roughly $7 million in tax money from the Downtown Development Authority has been made available for new projects identified by the group.
The DDA is responsible for guiding future development within the downtown area of Mt. Crested Butte. The group’s board of directors had a meeting last week to begin discussions on what to do with the tax dollars, now that the funds are no longer obligated to the MTPAC.
“The funds will be used specifically for developing the infrastructure of the downtown area,” said Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick. “The DDA’s priorities were two things: 1) the performing arts center, and 2) parking. The performing arts center is no more, so we’re at parking.”
According to Fitzpatrick, the DDA is currently under contract to purchase some of the land on the north side of the Nordic Inn, which is currently an open field. The land will be turned into a surface-level parking area with 150 spaces. Once that is done, there should still be some money left over.
“The DDA is looking at a pretty long list right now of potential projects,” said Fitzpatrick. “They’re working to determine what is going to be better for the community. They’ll be meeting in September to narrow down the list to the projects that will have the greatest impact.”
The list includes projects such as: building a skier drop-off near the Grand Lodge entrance; making traffic improvements along Gothic Road between Emmons and Treasury roads; repairing the Snowcrest Bridge; increasing broadband infrastructure; and lastly, building a rec center, which Fitzpatrick said is very unlikely to be chosen.
“It’s important for people to remember that we previously went through several exercises to determine the feasibility of many of these projects prior to the decision to move forward with the performing arts center,” said Fitzpatrick. “We found that a rec center would be very expensive to build and even more expensive to operate. A feasibility study said there was no way we could afford to keep the lights on without a tax or another funding source. Because of that, a rec center is at the very bottom of the list.”
One item that hovers around the middle of the list is the partially completed multi-level parking garage in the large parking area north of the Grand Lodge. The garage currently has room for about 120 cars, but if it’s completed would have around 350 spaces.
“The plans are complete for the garage and it would be good to get finished,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s just expensive to finish and it could consume most of what the DDA has for funding through 2026.”
The next meeting of the DDA will be on September 4 at 4 p.m. in the council chambers of the Mt. Crested Butte town hall.