Saturday, March 28, 2020

First North Village open house brings public input

Trails, dog park, post office among suggested community amenities

By Kendra Walker

The Mt. Crested Butte community took its first opportunity to speak its mind about the upcoming North Village development during an open house on February 11, hosted by the town of Mt. Crested Butte, North Village Associates LLC and Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). Dozens of concerns and potential opportunities were voiced through the meeting, and Town Council has begun zeroing in on their top priorities for the project based on the feedback received.

The open house, the first in a series of three over the next several months, was designed to educate the public about the North Village, to introduce the partners involved and to allow for public feedback on potential amenities included in the development or for the public to express their concerns associated with the project.

The 150-acre parcel sits north of the Mt. Crested Butte Town Hall up to the Snodgrass trailhead. Among the priorities for development, the North Village Associates have expressed interest in creating affordable housing, RMBL housing and research facilities, a reservoir, recreation opportunities and trails.

Approximately 50 people attended the open house. “I am thrilled to see y’all here to come and listen to where we’re going and share with us what you’d like to see on the piece of property,” Mt. Crested Butte mayor Janet Farmer addressed the crowd. “We really want to hear your ideas, we want to know what you want to see out there, and what you don’t. Think outside the box, be creative.”

Folks were invited to post comments on different boards labeled “Opportunities” and “Concerns.” Representatives from all three partners under the MOU were also present and available to answer questions.

North Village project manager Crockett Farnell shared the final comment tallies with the Crested Butte News, having received 97 sticky note comments by the end of the night. Forty-eight comments were posted under “Opportunities” and 49 were posted under “Concerns.”

Among potential opportunities, the top categories referred to recreation, trails, a dog park and a post office. Soccer fields, bike paths, Nordic trails, a Frisbee golf course and reservoir water activities like ice skating, swimming and stand-up paddle boarding were all suggestions surrounding recreation and trails. Other suggestions included a grocery/convenience store and some form of community space, such as a rec center or meeting space. More creative suggestions included a zipline from Gold Link to the North Village Center and a summer luge run.

The top concern from the public focused on Gothic Road traffic, followed closely by concerns with light pollution and Snodgrass trails. Conservation and trail impacts, as well as access and parking were hot topics regarding Snodgrass. Citizens were also concerned about the potential for another neighborhood of “vacant second homes” and suggested interspersing the proposed affordable housing throughout the parcel for a better community mix. An increase in water rates was also a worry.

Last month, the three hosts entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in which all parties will take a deep dive over a four-month due diligence period to look at potential designs and amenities involved with jointly developing the North Village parcel. The three open houses are included in this MOU phase. At the end of April, if everyone is on board to move forward, the partners would begin developing the site plan and financial model, followed by drafting the formal Planned Unit Development (PUD) application.

Town Council discussed the public input takeaways during its February 18 meeting, and began narrowing down top priorities for the North Village subcommittee to take into consideration leading up to the next open house.

“I didn’t hear anybody say they objected to this project,” said Farmer. “I feel like people want to see something happen there and I think that was a great starting place.”

Council agreed that housing is a clear priority. Figuring out the water rights, financials and legalities related to a reservoir was also high on council’s list, as that will determine a lot of other pieces of the development puzzle moving forward.

Mass transit and parking options were also high priorities for council, as a lot of the desired amenities would require those logistics built into the site plan.

Based on public comments, council also agreed on the general importance of creating a community core, rather than a commercial core. This includes maintaining and adding trail access and exploring community spaces such as multi-purpose meeting spaces, a post office annex and park space that could include ball fields and a dog park.

The next open house is tentatively scheduled for Monday, March 9 at a yet to be determined location that will allow for more space.

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