Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Endings and new beginnings

As I walk the dogs around the neighborhood loop in the mornings, it is easy to see the signs of the end of summer. There is frost on the sage, there are elk in the wetlands and there are geese flying south overhead. The sun is low and it is cold these days, with temperatures requiring shoes instead of flip-flops. I sometimes shift my perspective as I round the corner near the river and think how warm it would feel if it were March instead of October. But it is October and it is the end of summer and not the beginning of spring. It reminds me that skiing is closer than it was yesterday. In an ideal world we would get another year where the switch doesn’t flip to deep snow until the weekend before the chairlifts start turning and we can ride bikes into late November. That doesn’t look likely at the moment but you never know…

Speaking of… The forecast looks like winter at the end of the week. Snow is possible Thursday and I see that on Thursday night it could hit a chilly 6 degrees. It is quite a drop from the 60s on Wednesday to 6 on Thursday. I look at it as just one more way to cull the herd of people who move here thinking every day is sunny and 75 and all is perfect in fantasy resort land. That sort of weekend is normal this time of year and marks the start of new seasons—sometimes several seasons in a single day. And it’s not all unicorns and rainbows all the time up here…

Speaking of… It appears that the constantly contentious Corner at Brush Creek drama might be ending. Which could open up a potential new beginning with a more solid starting point. It is still a “might,” as all the involved parties have until Halloween to reach some sort of agreement.

Gary Gates of Gatesco Inc., the proponent of the affordable housing project, says he won’t give up. But it is not entirely up to him. He was charged by the county commissioners to formally convince three of the four landowners to move ahead and two of them—the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte—appear pretty firm that they want Gatesco to adhere to the compromise they spent five months crafting. They are sticking to the 156/2/5 figures, where there are no more than 156 units on the site with two parking spaces per unit and five acres of land set aside for a future use. So unless some on either council flip on what they’ve stated strongly at their last meetings or Gates reconsiders and agrees to the 156/2/5, the commissioners have said they won’t allow the developer to submit an application for preliminary plan review. Wouldn’t that be the end of this chapter that seems to never end?

I have wondered aloud what the councils would do if Gates came in and said, “Okay, we’ll go with 156/2/5.” He’s hit what I thought would be the hardest of the three with the 156. And in an ideal world, his partners—all the landowners including the two towns—would help make it a reality with a little financial or in-kind assistance. But as I’ve mentioned before, the brittle “trust factor” or lack thereof between all the parties involved is real in this situation and so I don’t see it happening.

I must say that while charges fly at every Brush Creek meeting—and there are a lot of them (meetings and charges)—I was never put off that some of the units had a thin deed restriction that allowed some essentially “free market” rents but required that local residents live here. That to me added to part of the good mix.

Anyway, Gates hasn’t been at the last couple of Brush Creek meetings. One reason might be that according to my interwebs, Gary is busy in Texas running for an open seat in the state legislature. It’s not his first attempt to get elected in Texas and it is his third time running for that house district seat. Perhaps Gary is thinking of new beginnings as well.

While a new Brush Creek beginning might be difficult to crank up, given where these talks have ended with animosity oozing all over the place, there is a real opportunity to start again on a positive note. A fresh starting point that fleshes out details of a project that could work for everyone including the developer, the governments and the neighbors could happen if ego is set aside by everyone. There is a new pool of state money that could be used for things like infrastructure to make it easier on whoever wants the affordable housing project and the community can weigh in with a positive and active role in molding the development instead of being put in the poor position to react antagonistically to something they didn’t like from the get-go.

A late start to the colors made for a really nice early October in the aspens. It looks like one more big wind day or that snow in the high country could be the end of the gold season and start of the brown stick season.

Anyway, life is full of endings. But each of those offers opportunity for new beginnings. It depends on perspective. Yeah, the mornings are sure cold right now and the heat is turned on in the house—but if it were spring, it would feel pretty warm. Yeah, the cluster of a flawed process looks like the first shot at affordable housing on the Brush Creek property could come to an end, but local leaders can take the many lessons of this drama and start fresh with a cleaner opportunity. There is always the chance for new beginnings.

—Mark Reaman

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