Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Observations…

The best job in the county might be to be a deputy sheriff in Gunnison County who runs for sheriff and loses the election and then loses his or her job. The last two guys to have done that collected more than a half million dollars (total) in compensation from the county. Both Scott Jackson and Mark Mykol, former sheriff’s office employees who ran for sheriff and lost, have received financial settlements from the county—Mykol this week for $125,000 and Jackson in 2018 for $415,000.

To be fair, it’s oftentimes easier and cheaper to settle the kind of legal dispute both men brought to the county as opposed to going through the headache of a long, drawn-out public court action. It just seems funny to me that there seems a new profitable, six-figure job in the county: Sheriff election runner-up.

Several times each week I go by what some call the new REI in town, I mean the Crested Butte Arts Center. I’m pretty sure Big Blue won’t make its June construction completion deadline for that scheduled grand opening. But there’s always winter—or June 2020.

I have written before and will probably write again that the biggest problem with the potential Corner at Brush Creek affordable housing proposal is the relationship between the current proponent and some of the current property owners. Instead of working together to forge a great project that addresses a need, the two or three or four sides in this have kept driving a wedge deeper between them.

The majority of the two town councils have settled on their 156/2/5 number: a maximum of 156 units with two parking spaces per unit and five acres of open space that might be used for something in the future. The Gatesco development team just can’t seem to go all the way there. Gatesco principal Gary Gates assured me this week that he won’t give up on the project. “It might not happen today but it will get built… because it’s needed and it’s the right thing,” he said. Gates has been clear that he is resolved to getting this done and he said when it comes to such projects that he feels are the right thing to do, he can be tenacious. I won’t disagree with that.

But I get the same feeling from representatives of the other side. And to me, that’s the problem—there are two sides sort of fighting one another instead of a lot of people working toward one noble goal. For example: If the two parking spaces per unit is a major cog that makes the whole project not work economically as was outlined in a letter from Gates to the town councils this week, there could be room to work together with public financial or in-kind subsidies to make the parking and the money work—but that takes trust and a good relationship between partners to move there. And I just don’t see it.

I peeked inside the county’s affordable housing units out at Stallion Park the other day. They look pretty nice inside. They’re empty at the moment but the process of filling them is beginning this month—which is good since the word “crisis” keeps being thrown around in the housing realm and they have been empty for months. I also notice the For Rent section in the classifieds is growing right now, too. Fall is like that, as people prep for their ski season living situation.

Based on the local law enforcement logs, mushrooms seem to hit peak sprout during the Vinotok bonfire.

I have written before and probably will again that while it is good to do what you can to reduce climate change, it is hard to claim to be a strict environmentalist if you live at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. It takes a lot of energy to live and play here. Probably more than if you live in, say, Paonia or Boulder or even a large city like San Francisco. It takes a ton of energy in this valley to heat a house the majority of the year, with temperatures regularly dropping below zero in the heart of winter; energy to power ski lifts and warm indoor swimming pools; energy to bring in the economy of tourists to the valley through planes or cars; energy to get most every bit of winter food into the valley; energy to get most of the materials to build houses and hotels here; energy to travel to more temperate climes (let alone school sports all over the state) from this end-of-the-road valley. You can choose to take environmental actions but choosing to live here is not really a sound sustainable choice for most. The photo of people carrying a sign in the Crested Butte Climate March that read, “We are all guilty…” in last week’s paper wasn’t wrong. As a ‘recovering Catholic’ I’m familiar with guilt and can get over it pretty quickly. Living here is wonderful and the place is valuable in the big picture as a respite from the real world for a lot of people.

This fall at 9,000 feet has been stunning. It started late but is great. Cool nights, warm days and spectacular aspens. The colors on Strand or the Connector or Baxter’s can fill your soul and bring tears of appreciation for wild beauty. Last weekend’s winds thinned it out a bit but there is actually still some green hanging around, so we might have one of the longest autumns in years. Do not let it pass you by without breathing in some gold.

Speaking of long falls, the Taylor River will still be running pretty strong through this Sunday, October 6. The water people have agreed to allow 300 cfs of water to be released from the dam through Sunday, so get out and take that last whitewater trip or float fishing trip of the season.

The fact this place is one of the most beautiful and wild in the Lower 48 is only made better by things like the Crested Butte Film Fest and other islands of art at the end of this wilderness road. The film fest was packed all weekend and the films I saw were beautiful and thought-provoking and a real treat to experience in this small mountain village. It is one of the many artistic offerings that take Crested Butte up a notch and help provide a fuller life for those living in a pretty special place.

—Mark Reaman

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