Saturday, June 6, 2020


I am a fan of ideas. Good ideas, bad ideas, off-the-wall ideas, well-thought-out ideas. Just toss out an idea and see where it goes. I’ve had some bad ideas (hitting any jump on skis or a bike, contacting the Nigerian prince for my lottery winnings) and I’ve had some really good ideas (marrying my wife, having kids, buying a house near Crested Butte in the 1990s). Ideas are the early part of any creative process and right now the valley needs ideas. Luckily it seems to me the community is smart enough to filter out the bad ideas and also courageous enough to try new, weird interesting ideas. Changes are coming and ideas on how we evolve are flying.

A couple of people this week emailed the paper to suggest their ideas for the Crested Butte News. They included things like having a pothole of the week column and a regular feature on local landmarks. I kind of like the most annoying pothole of the week—especially at the end of the winter season when some of the local potholes are absolutely epic. Thank you.

I appreciate the fact that elected officials and staff members in all of the local government entities are batting around all sorts of ideas. There are ideas on how to address big things like sustainability, workforce housing and transportation, and small things like how to deal with overflowing trashcans (see the Eco Tip of the Week on page 51 for the trashcan ideas).

New Crested Butte Town Council member Mallika Magner said Monday that she was “intrigued” by the idea in a recent Norton’s Notions column. I was, too. Norton wrote about a new bike-share program in Aspen where people could grab a bike at one of many stations located throughout the town and ride them anywhere. If the time on the bike was less than 30 minutes, the bike rental was free.

He suggested it could be done in Crested Butte with two or three stations, including one at the school parking lot that would entice people to park there and ride to the main business district of Elk Avenue. He explained to me that in Aspen a young local woman had gone to the town council with a plan and expenditure model. The town subsidized the cost of the bikes, the racks and the app needed to use them. The young woman services the bikes and the stations and it seems to be a success over in Fat City.

I am “intrigued” at the possibility that something like that could work here as well if it was targeted to using the school lot as intercept lot. Of course not everyone would park and hop on a three-speed klunker with a basket to get to Kochevar’s or Milky Way but some would—and that could help decrease congestion in the middle of town. It is worth exploring for sure.

Giving developer Joel Wisian of Bywater Development LLC a couple of weeks to see if he can manifest a miracle and find a way to obtain the needed bond the town wants for its Paradise Park affordable housing project is a good idea. It may have the realistic chance of a last-second Hail Mary pass from the 50-yard line but every once in a while that pass is completed and the game is changed.

I am a fan of the idea of businesses stepping up to purchase affordable housing in town for their workers. I agree with town staff’s concern that the council could bend over too much in the next couple of weeks with emotional arguments from local businesses and citizens that the town doesn’t need that guarantee—but it does. If Joel pulls off a miracle with the help of the business community—great. If he doesn’t, then start over and continue to get creative with the business community. The original idea is a good one and it can lead to something really interesting.

I like the idea of the community coming together to realistically deal with any number of issues. One good recent idea was the voluntary no-float period on the upper Slate River that went until July 15. The idea was to protect the great blue heron rookery we are so lucky to have. Word is it worked with only a half dozen people floating there this last week but like everything, the chicks are about a week later than last year. So given the fact the river will be flowing a lot longer this summer, the latest idea is to hold off on that section of the river where the great blue heron nests are for another week. The floating will be there for a long time this summer. Give those blessings of nature another week to grow.

I also like councilman Will Dujardin’s idea of having a public work session with the Gatesco Development team to see where they really are with The Corner at Brush Creek preliminary plan. They have asked the county for a year-long extension to submit a preliminary plan. There are doubts among many that any work at all has been done by the developers to address the concerns and conditions raised by the county and towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. But Dujardin pointed out that in their letter to the county, Gatesco attorney Kendall Burgemeister said the team has spent a lot of time “analyzing various alternatives for moving the project forward.” Like Dujardin, I like the idea of hearing what they have discovered in their analysis and evaluations and feel a meeting is a fair way to see if those bonds of trust that remain weak between some players in the process, can be repaired. Why not hold that meeting in a special work session before the county commissioners determine whether to grant the extension on August 6?

As noted by Crested Butte town manager Dara MacDonald, this community has done pretty well by being creative. Creative starts with the nugget of an idea and while I’ve mentioned only a couple of current ideas floating around, there are plenty more. Keep them coming and let’s all continue to get creative to shape how this community evolves. In the meantime, check out the pothole of the week in the alley between the Majestic and Clark’s. It’s a good one.

—Mark Reaman

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