Developers step in to help with immediate problem
By Mark Reaman
The town of Crested Butte is running out of room at its public works yard. The recent expansion of the wastewater treatment plant along with a growing Mountain Express fleet of buses is putting the squeeze on the site.
So the town and transit organization is partnering with Cypress Equities, the developers of the Slate River development just north of Crested Butte. The development group has agreed to help build a new bus barn that should accommodate the current fleet. The developer’s motivation is aesthetics, as the bus barn would be located close to the edge of the new subdivision.
At the July 24 Town Council meeting, Crested Butte community development director Michael Yerman explained the tight situation to the council.
“We are out of space and I can’t stress that enough,” Yerman said. “The Cypress developers have agreed as part of the annexation to build a river trail and fence that would go by the bus area. The fence is needed, given the trail and amount of people who will likely use it.”
Yerman said Cypress is designing a three-sided covered parking area for buses. In a memo to the council Yerman stated that “by providing covered bus parking the developer is able to screen the bus yard while assisting with snow removal in this area during the winter.”
Cypress has indicated to the town and Mountain Express that the transit agency will have to fund about $400,000 of the project. But Yerman emphasized this action will accommodate only the current fleet of 22 buses.
“It is at capacity in its current location. We are literally looking at every inch,” Yerman said. “Mt. Crested Butte probably needs to come up with some space for the Mountain Express. We understand that it can’t happen tomorrow but we hope they are looking at potential sites.
“The town recognizes the value of Mountain Express but we also recognize the value of being able to flush the toilets,” continued Yerman in reference to the wastewater treatment plant expansion and town composting operation that takes place in the same location.
Yerman said the council should expect to soon see an agreement between the town, Cypress and Mountain Express over the project. He said town will see the river trail, fencing and bus parking structure pretty quickly as a result of the development. That observation was in response to a concern voiced by councilman Jim Schmidt that the developers got immediate benefits from the proposed annexation to Crested Butte while the town’s benefits were “back loaded.”
“It is important for everyone to understand that we greatly appreciate Mountain Express but our space is disappearing and we have to address that,” said mayor Glenn Michel.
Councilman and Mountain Express board member Roland Mason said the bus system was “aware of the space restraints. That might mean we have to rent space in perhaps Riverland in the future,” he said.
Town manager Dara MacDonald said her counterpart in Mt. Crested Butte, Joe Fitzpatrick, was looking at options, “and he has some ideas to look at in Mt. Crested Butte.”
A special meeting of the Mountain Express board, the town and the developers will be held August 3 to review the plans and cost estimates of the new bus storage structure.