Thursday, February 20, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

CB council pulls away from strict STR caps in Crested Butte

Possibly limiting STRs to half the year

By Mark Reaman

While nothing is definitive and probably won’t be until at least January, a majority of Crested Butte Town Council members now feel homeowners in town should be able to short-term rent their houses for up to 180 days a year. This is the council’s latest attempt to somehow limit the amount of short-term rentals (STR) in town.

Such a move would not impact many, if any, houses currently in the Crested Butte STR pool, since renting a house that many nights annually is extremely rare in town. Mayor Glenn Michel said he felt such a lax limit was pointless and would essentially contribute to turning neighborhoods into hotels and would contribute to “losing the fiber of the community.”

The council opted to continue the first reading of the proposed ordinance to the December 19 meeting when details will be included in a formal ordinance. The council can choose to set the ordinance for a public hearing sometime in January and then vote on the ordinance.

In the discussion at Monday night’s meeting, councilmembers all felt that instituting safety and inspection measures for STRs was a good idea and those points will be put into the town code.

But the issue of whether or not to cap or limit STRs as a way to reduce negative impacts to the concept of “community” has been a discussion stretching back into last winter, including a council-appointed citizens committee to come up with recommendations on how to regulate and limit STRs.

As a result of the months-long discussion, the council is now leaning toward allowing STRs for most houses in town for half the year.

The council had received scores of emails this week from homeowners arguing against any form of limits on STRs. In an email, homeowner Peter Sherman pointed out that current town zoning allows “unlimited short term rentals” in the R1, R1A, R1C, R2, R2C, R3C and B3 zoning districts.

Town Council and staff said homes currently being used for short-term rentals will be “grandfathered in” and have the ability to maintain that “unlimited” status. Town attorney John Belkin indicated if a homeowner in one of those zones gave up its license the use would become a nonconforming use.

The council appeared swayed by the flurry of correspondence and thus settled on the 180-night limit. But they weren’t pleased with some of the points in the letters.

“We received a plethora of letters from people interested in protecting their money rights. One described the town as dysfunctional. That is offensive,” said councilman Jim Schmidt and he listed a number of positive things the town provides. “Maybe we’re dysfunctional because we don’t take kick-backs or something.”

“The majority of letters were concerned with investment protection and the positive contributions STRs make to the retail and restaurant base of the town and the jobs they provide,” added Michel. “I didn’t receive any emails or comments this week from people wanting caps on STRs. The letters we received this week were all valid, well-written with passionate arguments. But for me, this is about the forming of a community. It is about more than individual gain. If we all take a little, we might take too much.”

Michel said it was time for the council to make a hard decision and suggested it put an annual 90-night cap on short-term-renting a house in town.

“For me, I want to be clear the town is not saying the second-home community is not welcome,” said councilman Chris Ladoulis. “But we all seem to agree that in the future there is a tipping point if we have too many short-term rentals. If it were 100 percent, everyone would agree that is too many. We don’t want to disallow them completely, either. We are trying to find that middle gound.”

“The question is, do we want to cap STRs so neighborhoods don’t turn into de facto hotel zones?” asked Michel. “When does renting a house in a neighborhood turn that house into a business?”

“I don’t think we have enough data,” said councilwoman Laura Mitchell. “I feel like we could be overstepping our bounds on private property rights. Limiting them to 30 or 60 days is overreaching. We are wading into these waters without the data. I’m not in favor of a 90-day limit. Maybe 180- or 200-day limit. I’m not sure of the magic number.”

Local property manager Steve Ryan of Ironhorse Property Management sat on the citizens committee that studied STRs. He provided the council with some numbers. He said of the 13 houses he has managed in the town more than a year, the average number of days they rent is probably about 120, with the high end being 140.

“For me, if STRs continue to proliferate, we could see the tipping point. I don’t have a problem with what is going on now,” commented councilman Roland Mason. “If we get to the point where Crested Butte is one big hotel, we’ll have an issue. For me, I’d say the 180-night suggestion works because it is not even close to the highest number of days for a rented house in town.”

“It is hard for me to put a cap on without hard data on loss of revenue,” said councilman Paul Merck. “This is a business we’ve built up in town. We continue to ask people to come visit here.”

“What is the right number for a cap?” asked Ladoulis. “I don’t know. But when you move the number to a half a year, it is easier to defend. If something were rented for more than half a year, it would probably meet the test of being a business in a residential area. I’d be comfortable with the 180 number.”

“If something in Crested Butte is rented 180 days, it is a hotel,” countered Michel. “Council is saying they are okay with this. The idea of needing more data? We’ve talked about this ad nauseam. Every homeowner in town should be concerned that every neighbor can rent out their houses for half the year. I think 90 days is a fair compromise for people to make some extra money but it doesn’t make your house a hotel in Crested Butte. The council is kidding themselves if they think 180 nights is legitimate. Why even do it then?”

“Because saying 360 days a year is very different,” responded Ladoulis.

“Any cap or limit will be very difficult to enforce,” added Schmidt who indicated there should perhaps be no limits legislatively imposed. “Patterns will stay similar to today. July will be rented and October won’t have that many rentals.”

“A 180-night limit doesn’t impact anyone currently,” said Mason. “In the future, if Crested Butte is a 360-day resort with no shoulder seasons, people will be glad we put this in, or not.”

“I’m personally passionate about this,” reiterated Michel. “I value true residential neighborhoods. I just think 180 nights is way too much. I think people should be very concerned with that.”

The council is leaning toward the citizen committee recommendation to not allow STRs in the B1, C, B2, T (except blocks 55 & 37), P, R2A and AO, zones. These zones do not allow for any market rate housing to be constructed.  Deed restricted houses will not be able to short term rent the property, however, properties with an ADU may short-term rent either the main home or the ADU so long as the other is rented long-term. Individual room rentals within Crested Butte houses will abide by the same 180-night.

Citizen committee member Dan Escalante said the move would encourage STRs in condo complexes that currently house local workers and he didn’t like that aspect. “In a condo with shared walls it really begins to feel like a hotel,” he said. “You are turning bastions of local workforce housing into hotels. This doesn’t work great for the local workforce.”

Kate Seeley said she couldn’t imagine renting out her home or a room in her home 180 nights a year. “Short-term renting definitely helps supplement income. It is hard to make a living here,” she said. “And second homeowners aren’t going to rent their places long-term. I have an idea for something like a land trust for local houses but we can discuss that later. The whole issue is very complex and a cluster.”

On the regulations side, an STR license will cost more than today but a final number has not been determined, STR houses will be inspected every other year, parking required for the site must be available, the general maximum occupancy is two people per bedroom plus two with a maximum of 10 renters at a time unless there are extenuating circumstances, the licenses will not be transferable with a property sale, town rules and regulations must be posted, and a local contact must be available to deal with issues that come up during a rental.

If a property owner were found to be renting beyond the 180-day limit, the fine would be $1,000 per day and a two-year suspension of the STR license.

The council will look at specifics in an ordinance at the next meeting. A public hearing and vote on the new regulations would likely come in January.

Adopt a Family program growing in the area for the holiday season

“We’ve all walked through really tough times”

by Crystal Kotowski

We are heading into the holiday season and not everyone will necessarily have a happy one. Some people, including local families, are more fortunate than others.

Adopt a Family is a program run through Crested Butte’s Oh Be Joyful church, in which families who can use assistance at Christmas are “adopted” by local families and businesses. The adoptive families or companies provide wrapped Christmas gifts (needs and wants) for families who can benefit from this assistance.

The names of families are kept anonymous unless they request otherwise.

Nancy Osmundson, a member of Oh Be Joyful church, started the program in 2009. “I had adopted families in Florida and was saddened that we did not have the opportunity here. The response was terrific and we adopted 12 families and it has grown every year to show the amazing goodness of our community. It started as a program for people who just need a helping hand and are having a rough time,” Osmundson said.

The program tries to support people not receiving other services. Help is given with no strings attached or expectations, though people often commit to giving back when they are back on their feet.

Rosalind Cook began facilitating the program in 2015. “Adopt a Family is the most rewarding thing I have ever done! Our unique community has an incredibly big spirit where people come along and walk with each other through good and tough times. Almost everyone can remember a time in their lives when they experienced tough times that made them feel powerless and defeated. How uplifting and hopeful it is when someone, and in this case, strangers, step up and say, ‘I want to walk with you and give you some help here,’” Cook said.

“I wish you could read the notes and emails I receive from so many who could not otherwise provide gifts for their kids or groceries in their pantries. And then I receive emails from families and businesses who say thank you for the opportunity to really do something significant,” Cook continued.

There is no “formula” of how much to give. Cook simply passes on the list of wants and needs, ages of the kids, some “wishes”—and then lets the giving happen organically.

“Some of the requests come to me in the form of ‘Letters to Santa.’ Of course many kids will request their dream toys, but often it is coats, winter boots, gloves, and groceries– very basic needs. I have a very hard time getting the parents to make any requests for themselves. Usually they decline, saying that providing for their kids is enough,” said Cook.

“Our life is changed… we did not think anyone cared,” shared one anonymous adopted family. “I have no clue how I would have provided a Christmas this year for my family. This is beyond anything I could ever dream of…. having people reach out to us like this!” shared another.

Last year 28 families were adopted; eight families are currently signed up for this year. Entities contributing to Adopt a Family include: Crested Butte Mountain Resort, The Last Steep Bar and Grill, Gunnison County Electric, Staff of the Town of Crested Butte, Yoga for the Peaceful, Alpine Getaways, Synergy Athlete, Electric Logic, Donita’s, and Benson Sotheby’s Realty.

“We do need more families. Actually, I have more donors on my list than families who have let me know they need help,” noted Cook.

“Adopt a Family, thanks for this opportunity to give back. We once were in need of groceries and bare necessities and were helped. Now we can do the same for someone else,” shared an anonymous adoptive family. “Our family has been blessed with ‘more than enough.’ It was the highlight of their Christmas to shop, wrap, and deliver gifts to ‘our family,’” shared another.

The flexible deadline to sign up for the program is December 15, as time is needed to shop. This year, the program is limited to people who live or work in the Crested Butte area.

Adopt a Family always needs gift cards for such things as groceries and gas. Interested adoptive persons can also write a check to Oh Be Joyful Church and designate it for Adopt a Family, P.O. Box 175, in Crested Butte.

“I know there are people reading this who either can use assistance for Christmas or want to do something significant for someone else,” concluded Cook.

Contact Rosalind Cook or Oh Be Joyful at or call 918-645-2109.

Kumbaya and Thanksgiving optimism

Attending the annual Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce Winter Economic and Tourism Forecast meeting last Thursday, I hung out for a bit but not for the whole thing. Believe it or not, everyone in the room was pretty optimistic about the upcoming ski season—no news there, really—and it wasn’t just because of the free beer and wine. You couldn’t expect this gathering to have the same vibe as the day after a Trump victory in the HCCA office, for example.

No, no, no. Marketing is cranking and should help fill those now-empty seats on the planes from Chicago and L.A. The buses are better and plusher and there are more trips running in the valley. The towns are in great shape and feeling more flush than recent years. The fat bikes are phatter, and the ski resort is ready. Big snow is in the weather forecast. It was a chamber gathering, after all.

Now, I believe all the reports, but being a bit more cynical, I was not shocked by any of them. I left the room when I saw a PowerPoint coming on the One Valley Prosperity Project. Seeing Gunnison County’s new community and economic development director and OVPP leader Cathie Pagano the next morning, I promised to give her and the project another kumbaya shout-out because she appreciates it so much. It is a holiday, so—OVPP gets the strongest kumbaya acknowledgement in a meeting filled with kumbaya! Pagano did tell me the project has actually led to more than just talk and good action has evolved from the hours and hours of OVPP discussion. While not always a cheerleader for OVPP, I believe the process has helped open up constructive dialogue and helped coordinate actionable goals for the broad community. Thanks.

A few other quick takeaways from the meeting. The Tourism Association will aim its healthy financial marketing guns on promoting the mountain’s steeps to millennials. Sort of like the mountain biking trail focus in the summer, they will focus on steep ski trails in the winter. The TA believes it is the Extreme Limits terrain that sets Crested Butte apart from the rest of the state ski areas so they want to let good skiers in their 20s and 30s know it is out there. They will especially be targeting the Los Angeles and Chicago ski markets since there are direct flights originating from those metropolises to Gunnison and those flights need some help.

The TA also reported that a survey of summer visitors showed no “detractors.” None, nada, zip, zilch. That’s unheard of and a compliment to us all. Visitors really liked it here this summer. Laurel Runcie explained that the survey results basically showed that those surveyed would likely recommend a trip to the valley to a friend. That’s a good marker. The TA will do a similar survey with visitors this winter to see how we measure up in the colder months.

The buses from the RTA will be bigger, more comfortable and easier to track this winter. There will be more daily round trips (17 total) zipping up and down the valley between Mt. Crested Butte and Gunnison and everywhere in between all winter. That should mean no one should (hopefully) get left behind because of a full bus.

Flights are looking about the same as last year in terms of booked passengers, with December up a bit and March off a tad.

Both towns, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, are seeing record sales tax revenues in the summer. Property valuations are increasing and both communities understand that it is now the June through September period that is dominating this ski resort community. In fact, Crested Butte mayor Glenn Michel said September is now the third-busiest month according to sales tax numbers in Crested Butte. He said the recent passage of 2A to help permanently end the threat of a mine on Mt. Emmons would bring some certainty to the valley for residents, visitors and investors.

CBMR’s Erica Mueller said they are “optimistic about another great winter in Crested Butte.” She said they are tracking about 4 percent up in individual skier tickets but are tracking down about 7 percent in group business at this point. “However, we feel that we can easily make up the group shortfall,” she said. “The phones have been a little slower lately with the lack of snowfall nationwide, but we anticipate the upcoming weather pattern to turn that around.”

Mueller said the Rocky Mountain Super Pass has been a boon the last two years and this third year is expected to give CBMR another great bump. Plus, she said this season is the first year of a new three-year deal with the group. “In addition, we anticipate seeing quite a few MAX Pass holders wanting to check out Crested Butte now that we are on that product as well. And last but not least, THINK SNOW: lots and lots of snow!”

Amen. There is nothing wrong with lots and lots of snow during the ski season.

So—and I’m honestly not being cynical—one of the things I love about the start of any ski season is the energy and optimism that bubble up right now. That gets me and most people living here stoked for the beginning of a new chapter in an always-interesting book. You never know how this chapter will turn out but it feels great to get it going. I love the buzz and there is always reason for optimism. Hey, the Cubs started every baseball season since the early 1900s with an optimistic buzz and they won the World Series this year. It could dump 450 inches this year!

So here is a Thanksgiving toast to some of that optimism going beyond expectations. Here’s to a record snowfall season and an early opening of Phoenix, Third Bowl and the West Side. Here’s to great sales tax numbers with no lines at the ever-running chairlifts that never break down. Here’s to warm, comfortable buses, fatter tires on the fat bikes, no core shots, and a chance for everyone living here to get out and have one of the runs of their life this year.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, everyone. I hear it’s looking pretty good.

—Mark Reaman

Thoughts on the other races and issues…

I might be the only one left to think so, but I really don’t believe what the polls are saying about the Hillary-Donald campaigns. A lot of people will privately fill out their ballots and not necessarily admit which name they put a checkmark by. If you think Donald has no chance to be president because polls are saying Hillary has a 96 percent chance of winning the election, think again. I won’t be surprised if he wins more than you or the national pundits think. Remember Brexit? How about Dewey defeating Truman? Not to mention Jesse “the Body” Ventura in MN! Just saying.

Hillary’s military hawkishness and her habit of going with the establishment majority when the surface politics tilt that way turns me off more than just about anything in this presidential election—except Donald’s mental state. As conservative Wall Street Journal writer Peggy Noonan noted last week in a column titled Imagine a Sane Donald Trump: “Oh my God, Sane Trump would have won in a landslide.”

Even nutty Donald Trump is going to draw probably 40 million or more votes. So don’t throw your vote away in this one. Every single vote will count and be important in Colorado. Your vote really truly matters in a swing state like ours, so do not waste it.

Former Crested Butte News editor Edward Stern eloquently made the case for Congressional candidate Gail Schwartz in last week’s paper and we agree wholeheartedly. In this time of toxic partisan politics where party loyalty trumps overall country benefit, Gail might actually be one of those sitting in Congress who could help pull back that poisonous attitude. Her political history demonstrates a willingness to work with members of both parties for the good of a cause and that’s really impressive and important right now. She works hard, she works smart and she will work for people like us living out here in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Vote for Gail Schwartz for the U.S. House of Representatives.

I have to say I like Republican Bob Schutt. He is the Crested Butte physician running for the seat in Colorado House District 61. If I didn’t think Millie Hamner was doing a good job representing this mountain town, I would go with Bob. Plus, he lives here and that’s always an advantage. But Millie is doing a good job and the former school superintendent from Summit County understands Crested Butte. She is running for her final term as a Colorado state representative. Her experience in the chamber is an asset and comes with influence gained from time spent in the trenches. I believe she deserves a return trip to the capital. I hope that Bob’s initial foray into politics won’t be his last because he is really smart and would represent Crested Butte well in Denver. Here’s hoping that if he loses this November, he steps up next time after Millie’s terms are completed.

There are a ton of state issues that are on the ballot this year. Cherry-picking a few:

Amendment 69 is the ColoradoCare initiative. While the intent is good, especially with ObamaCare flailing, the ramifications of this being in the state constitution are too extreme. This could work nationally or perhaps even regionally, but as a single state offering universal health care coverage for everyone there are too many unanswered issues that could ultimately damage Colorado. The gargantuan tax increase, the negative impact on a lot of our local businesses, the uncertainty of too many nebulous things getting embedded into the constitution make 69 a no vote.

Amendment 70 is the minimum wage increase idea. It would take the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour starting next January. It would then increase 90 cents an hour starting in 2018 until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020. Tipped workers could still be paid much less than the overall minimum wage and that would apply to a lot of people and businesses in Crested Butte and Gunnison. Slowly increasing the wage of the lowest-paid people in our community looks to be a reasonable idea in this resort town. Putting more money into people’s pockets for them to spend at local businesses seems to work. Vote yes for 70.

Amendment 71 is the issue that would make it harder to get something passed into the Colorado constitution. It would require that a certain number of signatures be gathered from state senate districts across Colorado to get a proposed amendment on the ballot. And then instead of the current simple majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment, the issue would need 55 percent of the voters. This seems to make sense. The constitution should not be where laws are made. That will put more pressure on our elected state representatives. And that is the way it should be. But this will still leave an opening for citizen initiatives to go this route if they feel so impassioned. We’ll be voting yes on 71.

Proposition 106 would allow access to medicine for terminally ill patients to speed the process. The so-called Colorado End-of-Life Options Act would permit terminally ill people to request aid-in-dying medication that the individual would have to administer him or herself. The issue includes a lot of safeguards but the idea of allowing someone to make a difficult decision in difficult circumstances makes sense. It provides a humane way for many people to transition to the other side. Vote yes on 106.

And as we mentioned last week, Crested Butte voters get to vote for 2A, the measure that allows some of the town’s future open space revenues to go toward a deal that could ultimately eliminate the threat of an industrial mine on Mt. Emmons. It is a measure that will pay healthy (literally) dividends well into the future and is something to support on your ballot this year. Vote for 2A.

You should have received your ballot in the mail by now. You can mail it back (put enough postage on the return envelope) or drop it off at locations in Crested Butte and Gunnison before November 8.

—Mark Reaman

Community Calendar: Thursday, October 13–Wednesday, October 19

• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Foundations for Alignment / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8 a.m. Ecumenical Meditation at UCC.
• 8:30 a.m. Women’s book discussion group at UCC.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m. Historic Walking Tour of Crested Butte. Leaves from the Crested Butte Heritage Museum. 349-1880.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County Branch Office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices.
• 9:30 a.m. Gentle Ski Conditioning at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 10 a.m. Mothering Support Group at Oh Be Joyful Church. (Last Thursday of every month)
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 11:30 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• noon All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Church Community Healing Service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• noon-1 p.m. Shoulders, Knees and Feet Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 12:30-1:30 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing and bedding.
• 4:30-6 p.m. Crested Butte Community Food Bank open at Oh Be Joyful Church. (First Thursday of every month)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-8:30 p.m. Silversmithing I at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts (Thursdays through October 20). 349-7044.
• 5:45 p.m. World Dance Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6 p.m. Ski conditioning class with Adventure Physical Therapy at CB South Sunset Hall. 970-251-5098.
• 6-8 p.m. Pick-up Adult Soccer at Town Park.
• 6:30 p.m. AA Open Meditation at UCC.
• 7 p.m. Motherhood Movement class with Adventure Physical Therapy at CB South Sunset Hall. 970-251-5098.
• 7 p.m. Women Supporting Women Group Discussion at the Nordic Inn.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-8:30 a.m. Mysore Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7:30 a.m. Barre Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:30 a.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.
• 8:30-9:15 a.m. Aerial Conditioning with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487. (Fridays through November 4)
• 8:45 a.m. Core Power Yoga Class at the Pump Room.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Yoga for the Flexibly Challenged / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9 a.m.-noon Open Wheel Throwing at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 9:15-10 a.m. Open Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts. 349-7487. (Fridays through November 4)
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1:15 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5-7 p.m. Crested Butte Tennis Club Social Mixer at the Town Tennis Courts. (weather permitting)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 6-7 p.m. Poi Playshop at the Pump Room.
• 6-7:15 p.m. Yoga for Men at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 7-9 p.m. Pick-up adult Karate, Fitness Room at Town Hall.

• 7:30 a.m. Open AA at UCC.
• 7:30 a.m. Weights and Indoor Biking Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Vinyasa Flow with Inversions / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Community Yoga at the Sanctuary Yoga & Pilates Studio, Gunnison.
• 10-11 a.m. Hip Hop Community Dance Class at the Pump Room (above Fire House on 3rd & Maroon). 415-225-5300.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 10:30 a.m.-noon St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing and bedding. 970-318-6826.
• 12:30-2:30 p.m. Crested Butte Book Binders at the Old Rock Library for ages 9-13 years old. (every 2nd and 4th Saturday)
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Guided Sound Meditiation at 405 4th Street.

• 7-8 a.m. Meditation at Yoga For The Peaceful, by donation.
• 8:30 a.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 9 a.m. Worship Service at Oh-Be-Joyful Church.
• 9 a.m. Worship Service at Union Congretional Church. 349-6405.
• 9-10:15 a.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30-11 a.m. Community Free Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 1-5 p.m. Holiday Paint Your Own Pottery: Halloween at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044.
• 4-5:15 p.m. CBCYC Community Book Club at 405 4th Street.
• 5-6 p.m. All Saints in the Mountain Episcopal Eucharist at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church. 349-9371.
• 5-7 p.m. Pick-up Adult Basketball. HS Gym, CBCS.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-7 p.m. Restorative Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6 p.m. AA meets at UCC.
• 6-8 p.m. Pick-up Adult Soccer at Town Park.
• 6:30 p.m. Duplicate Bridge at UCC. 349-1008.
• 7 p.m. Gamblers Anonymous meets at the Last Resort.

• 7 a.m. Cardio Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30-8:30 a.m. Pranayama & Namaskar / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 8:45 a.m. Pilates at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa Flow / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For the Peaceful.
• 9:30 a.m. Gentle Ski Conditioning at The Gym. 349-2588.
• noon-1 p.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Vinyasa Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 3:30 p.m. Motherhood Movement class with Adventure Physical Therapy at Town Hall. 970-251-5098.
• 3:50-4:35 p.m. Grade 1 Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Mondays through October 24). 484-885-9951.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:40-5:25 p.m. Grade 2 Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Mondays through October 24). 484-885-9951.
• 5 p.m. Mothering Support Group at the GVH Education House, 300 East Denver St. (First Monday of every month)
• 5:30 p.m. Communion service at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Yin Yoga Nidra at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:30-7 p.m. Moms in Motion class at the GVH rehab gym.
• 5:45 p.m. Ski Conditioning at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Women’s Domestic Violence Support Group at Project Hope. Childcare available upon request. 641-2712.
• 6:45-8:15 p.m. Adult Intro to Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Mondays through October 24). 484-885-9951.
• 7:30 p.m. Open AA at UCC. 349-5711.
• 7:30 p.m. Narcotics Anonymous meets at 114 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison.

• 6-7 a.m. Meditation at Yoga For The Peaceful, by donation.
• 7 a.m. Core Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7-8 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 7:30 a.m. AA/Alanon Open at UCC. 349-5711.
• 8:30 a.m. Strength & Balance class with Adventure Physical Therapy at CB South Sunset Hall. 970-251-5098.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Vinyasa at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 9 a.m. Historic Walking Tour of Crested Butte. Leaves from the Crested Butte Heritage Museum. 349-1880.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Gunnison County branch office is open at the Crested Butte Town Offices, 507 Maroon Ave.
• 10-11 a.m. Power Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 10:30-11:45 a.m. Yoga Basics at Yoga for the Peaceful.
• 11:30 a.m. League of Women Voters meeting at 210 W. Spencer in Gunnison.
• noon AA Closed at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Athletic Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 12:30-1:30 p.m. Iyengar Yoga at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tech Tuesdays at Old Rock Library. 349-6535.
• 4-5:30 p.m. St. Mary’s Garage. 300 Belleview, Unit 2. Free clothing & bedding.
• 5:30 p.m. Communion Service at Queen of All Saints Church.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 5:45 p.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 6-8 p.m. Figure Drawing Sessions with a live model in Downtown Crested Butte.
• 6-8 p.m. Pick-up Adult Soccer at Town Park.
• 6:30 p.m. Crested Butte Library Poetry Collective meets at the Old Rock Library. (every 2nd Tuesday of the month)
• 6:30-7:45 p.m. Gentle Restorative Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7 p.m. Alanon meeting at the Last Resort.
• 7-8:30 p.m. Blessing Way Circle support group at Sopris Women’s Clinic. 720-217-3843.
• 7:45-9:45 p.m. Drop-in Adult Volleyball, CBCS MS Gym.

• 6:30 a.m. All Levels Iyengar Yoga Class at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 7:30 a.m. The Crested Butte / Mt. Crested Butte Rotary Club breakfast meeting in the Shavano Conference Room at the Elevation Hotel.
• 8:30 a.m. Hike with HCCA. Sign up at
• 8:30 a.m. Strength & Balance class with Adventure Physical Therapy in Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 970-251-5098.
• 8:45 a.m. Mat Mix at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 8:45-10 a.m. Inversions and Backbends / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 9-10:30 a.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Two Buttes Senior Citizens van transportation. Roundtrip to Gunnison. Weather permitting. Call first for schedule and availability. 275-4768.
• noon Closed AA at UCC.
• noon-1 p.m. Lunch Break Blend Yoga / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• noon-1 p.m. Prana Vinyasa at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5 p.m. Mass at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church.
• 5:30 p.m. Prenatal Yoga class in Crested Butte South. 349-1209.
• 5:45 p.m. Ski Conditioning at The Gym. 349-2588.
• 5:45-7:45 p.m. Sewing – Beyond the Basics at the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts. 349-7044. (Wednesdays through November 16)
• 6-7:15 p.m. Slow Flow at Yoga For The Peaceful.
• 6:30-8 p.m. Restorative Yin-Yoga-Nidra / CB Co-op at Town Hall.
• 7-9 p.m. “GriefShare,” a grief recovery seminar and support group, meets at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 711 N. Main St., Gunnison. 970-349-7769.
• 7:30 p.m. Alanon at UCC Parlour (in back). 349-6482.

Kid’s Calendar

• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Innovators Camp for ages 3-5 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Art and Science Camp for ages 5-8 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.

• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Innovators Camp for ages 3-5 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Art and Science Camp for ages 5-8 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 11 a.m. Big Kids Storytime for ages 3 and up at the Crested Butte Library.

• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Innovators Camp for ages 3-5 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Art and Science Camp for ages 5-8 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Advanced Art for ages 9-11 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 3:45-5 p.m. Messy Mondays for school aged kids at the Crested Butte Library. (kids younger than 8 must be accompanied by an adult)
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 5:30-6:30 p.m. Grades 5 – 6 Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Mondays through October 24). 484-885-9951.

• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Innovators Camp for ages 3-5 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Art and Science Camp for ages 5-8 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Advanced art for ages 9-11 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9:30 a.m. Munchkin’s Music and Dance in the Community Room, downstairs at the Town Hall. 349-9639.
• 11 a.m. Romp & Rhyme Storytime for families and kids of all ages at the Crested Butte Library.
• 3:45-5 p.m. Tween Scene (ages 8-12) at the Crested Butte Library.
• 3:50-4:35 p.m. Grade K Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Tuesdays through November 1). 484-885-9951.
• 4:40-5:40 p.m. Grades 3 – 4 Aerial Dance with the Crested Butte Dance Collective at the Center for the Arts (Tuesdays through November 1). 484-885-9951.

• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Innovators Camp for ages 3-5 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Art and Science Camp for ages 5-8 at The Trailhead. 349-7160.
• 9:30 a.m. Munchkin’s Music and Dance in the Community Room, downstairs at the Town Hall. 349-9639.
• 11 a.m. Baby Book Club at the Crested Butte Library.
• 3:45-4:45 p.m. Tween Scene (ages 8-12) at the Crested Butte Library.
• 4-7:30 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for children and adults with West Elk Martial Arts, Jerry’s Gym at Town Hall. 901-7417.
• 4:45 p.m. Tang Soo Do classes for juniors at Town Hall. 901-7417.

Events & Entertainement

Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15
• 6 p.m. RTA Community Meeting: Strategic Transit Plan in the training conference room at the Gunnison County Courthouse.
• 7 p.m. The Colorado Ballot Initiatives Forum at the Crested Butte Library.
• 7:30 p.m. Absinthe Films presents AfterForever and The Eternal Beauty of Snowboarding at the Center for the Arts.
• 8 p.m. Ladies Night at the Red Room.
• 10 p.m. Karaoke upstairs in the Sky Bar at the Talk of the Town.

• 6-8 p.m. Life Drawing in the Black Box Theatre at the Gunnison Arts Center.
• 8 p.m. Karaoke with DJ Triple L at the Red Room.

• 6 p.m. Earth Harvest Fundraiser: Community Pot Luck Dinner and Pottery Sale at the Gunnison Arts Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m with raffle and dessert at 7:30 p.m.
• 10 p.m. Intuit plays at the Eldo.

• 7 p.m. Common Cents Financial Literacy Workshop at the Crested Butte Library.

• 5-9 p.m. Auditions for Alice’s Christmas in Wonderland at the Gunnison Arts Center.
• 5:30-8:30 p.m. Ladies Spa Night in the south main lobby at Gunnison Valley Health. 642-8417.

• 5-9 p.m. Auditions for Alice’s Christmas in Wonderland at the Gunnison Arts Center.
• 5:30 p.m. Books n Bars: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of A Fist by Sunil Yapa at Montanya Distillers.
• 7:30 p.m. Pool tournament upstairs at the Talk of the Town.

Blowin’ my mind

For the first time since I’ve lived here, I was able to go in an underground mine Tuesday. It was pretty cool. At the invitation of the EPA, which is in charge of remediating the Standard Mine on Mt. Emmons, several people took a tour of the grounds and got to put on the headlamp and emergency air belt and walk back into one of the shafts. It’s dark in there. It’s wet in there. The ceilings (for a guy over six feet tall) are low in there. I gained much respect to those who earn a living underground.

As part of the remediation, a big bulkhead is being poured this Friday to manage water in the mine. Talk about blowing your mind. Half-filled concrete trucks will crawl up Red Lady to the opening and 90 cubic yards of cement will be pumped 800 feet inside the mine. It will be a long 12 hours for the boys. The bulkhead will be 25 feet thick and will take a month to cure. Special caulking will be used to seal the edges. Spending the morning around a bunch of really smart engineers and scientists was a good exercise for a newspaper guy. My mind was blown several times.

It’s not always smooth sailing, even here, but the relationship between this community and its cops is sort of mind-blowing as you look out in the real world. And one big reason for that is leaving this week. Tom Martin, Crested Butte’s chief marshal, is hanging up badge 601 to spend even more time (yeah, it’s possible) on the links. Tom embodies the principled small-town cop. He is honest. He is fair. He is not afraid to take the other side of an issue and has an ability to do it in a way that makes you think, instead of getting defensive.

Being a cop is not like most jobs. You are dealing in the muck. You are constantly between a rock and a hard place. Constant conflict is part of the deal. Tom has seen some nasty things. He has weathered them all with calmness, style and dignity.

Quick story: Tom had said many times he had an outstanding offer for years with pretty much anyone to call him no matter what time of the day or night if they were too inebriated to drive home. No one, he said, had ever taken him up on the offer. So one evening while discussing local politics at an Elk Avenue watering hole I remembered his offer. Being ever so slightly inebriated, I gave him a call shortly after I saw the late news ending on the bar’s TV. Sure enough, he answered the phone and he said “no problem” when I said I might need a ride home. I told him I would call him right back and then I somehow got sidetracked into another conversation—a three-hour conversation that ended when the bar closed. By then I was inebriated enough to call him back at 2 in the morning and he said “no problem” and came and picked me up and drove me home. The next day, Tom saw my son working at the Club and told him the story. He told Ben he was glad to do it (and disagreed with my 2:30 a.m. assessment that I could have made it home safely on my own) but next time asked that I call once, when I really wanted to go home. Fair enough. Sorry about that Tom—but thanks.

And really: Thanks for everything. Thanks for understanding this quickly changing community and being an integral part that keeps it special. Thanks for your leadership in trying to pass on the things to your deputies that will make them better officers for Crested Butte and not just big dudes in uniform in a resort town. Thanks for explaining the other side when I came with hard questions or concerns about the department. Thanks for working through another Vinotok and really trying to work with anyone and everyone who showed respect for you, the department and the town. That is a lesson worth remembering in life in general.

I remember Tom once explaining that the department was hiring marshals to enforce the laws, but it was his job to explain how to do it in Crested Butte. Right on. Now that responsibility will fall to new chief marshal Mike Reily. We hope Mike has gleaned some lessons from a good man who is heading to warmer climes.

My mind was blown the entire end of September but the beginning of October blew the leaves—off the tress. The last remnants of the glorious fall color are hanging on but it is safe to say the peak has come and gone. And what a great color show it was. No wonder so many people claim this time of year is made up of their favorite weeks. We are now left to bare aspens, time to chat, open parking spaces, cooling temperatures and the beginning of the next ski season. After the busyness of the summer, that is enough to blow anyone’s mind.

—Mark Reaman

Benchtalk October 7, 2016

Iron Pour is Thursday

One of the most unique events in the country is becoming an annual tradition in Crested Butte – an iron pour. The Art Studio of the Center for the Arts hosts the Second Annual Community Collaborative Iron Pour in Crested Butte this Thursday evening. An Iron Pour is the creation of sculpture through the pouring of molten iron into molds. Both local and visiting artists gather to choreograph this intensely beautiful art. The grand finale of the week is the Pour Day on Thursday, October 6 beginning at 4:30 p.m. and lasting until after dark. The gathering is held at the top of Elk Avenue. Everyone is welcome.

Winter is on its way, so prepare  

The town has sent out its annual autumn request to get ready for winter. Please remove all personal items from sidewalks and town rights-of-way, including bike racks, benches, tables, and chairs. Please unlock your bike from town bike racks by October 15.

Forum date change

The CB News is changing the date of its candidate’s forum. Instead of a Wednesday, we will get together on a Sunday with the candidate’s for county commissioner to talk policy and ask questions. The forum will now be held on Sunday, October 23 at 6 p.m. at the Center for the Arts.

Fall Break Community Workshops for K-6 students 

The Community Workshops will be offering classes & activities at CBCS October 11-14, during fall break. Kindergarten through sixth grade students are welcome to join us for lots of fun each day! Activities include art (sponsored by the CB Arts Festival), cooking with Mountain Roots, science experiments, Legos, games, a Friday afternoon movie and more! Sign up for as many days as you’d like. $35/day/child; scholarships available. Register online at For more information, contact Jill van Tiel at

Fire safety for seniors

Join the Gunnison fire marshal for a discussion on fire safety for seniors. “Fire Safety in the Home” will help you recognize fire risks and behaviors in your home and preventative steps you can take to save your home (and in some cases, your life!). Mark your calendars for this unique event October 12, 2016 11 a.m. – noon at the Senior Center.

Outerbike coming to CB

Outerbike has announced it will bring one of its events to Crested Butte next summer. The Crested Butte Outerbike will be held August 18-20, 2017 and will be produced in partnership with Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The Crested Butte event will make use of the resort’s developing Evolution Bike Park. Outerbike is one of the largest bike gatherings held for mountain bikers.


October 6- Kristy Acuff, Lindi Beekman, Brenda Alagna

October 7- Jennifer Glick, O’Hare Mullady

October 8- Barb Burrowes, Ann Socha, Brent Robinson, Bill Babbitt, Adam ‘Is Stoked’ Broderick, Andi Burnite

October 9- Dylan Smith, Greg Payne, Jesse Helland, Ariana Woods, Amanda Smith, Matthew Cody Alagna

October 10- Melissa Rose, Julia Brazell, Zach Vosburg, Michael Villanueva, Ariel Lypps, Bob Vandervoort, Isaac Evans

October 11- Joyce Lamb, Jed Frame, Sandy Read, Samuel Stepanek, Chelsea Paulino

October 12- Kimberly Metsch, Matthew Hardin, Beth Appleton, Joe Alagna, Tracy Freeman, Michael Marchitelli

Dead leaves. Chip Dennison
The death of summer. Kelly McGuire
The stimulating sounds of autumn. Mary Tuck
Moose. Maria Fenerty
Abiotic material. Oliver Van Tiel
CONGRATULATIONS: Newlyweds Brian Chapel and Katie Vandervoort were married on September 24 at her grandparents’ home in Wildbird. courtesy photo
CONGRATULATIONS: Ben Watts and Taylor Garcia were married at the Wilder on Saturday, August 13 and will be residing in London, England. courtesy photo
CONGRATULATIONS: Chris Shewmake and Kyndal Carolus were married on July 16, 2016 at the Club at Crested Butte. photo by Alison White Photography


Happy over fall, mine progress, bathroom love and Dick Eflin

It’s hard to not be happy during these peak fall days. The changing leaves, the perfect light, the space to breathe. There’s time to reconnect with people in the community and find isolation on the trails if you desire. These are the good weeks and let’s hope you are getting out to experience what are some of the best days on the planet, ever. Seriously. And with the moisture flowing in for a few days this week, it adds a dramatic look with low clouds popping the colors and framing the mountains. It is the next indication there is no turning back to summer.

I can report that we should be happy with the progress being made toward the withdrawal of unpatented mining claims on Red Lady. The town attorney says he is working with his counterparts at Freeport-McMoRan on language that will put a finite end to any threat of an industrial mine on Mt. Emmons. The players are engaged and productive and appear to still be holding hands and marching in the same direction. The citizens of Crested Butte should be happy to pull the lever in favor of Crested Butte ballot initiative 2A that will commit open space funds to the project but not raise any taxes.

Those who want some regulation of short-term rentals in Crested Butte should be happy, since the council has picked up the ball again and will hold a special meeting to discuss the issue next Monday. Frankly, my eyebrow is raised a bit over the sudden re-emergence of urgency expressed at the meeting on Monday. I mean, the council rejected the idea of imposing a moratorium so they could deal with the issue without distractions. Five of the seven council members actually have short-term rental licenses themselves—and two rushed in to get them when the issue started to get real in August. That all took some steam out of the process. But the citizens’ committee spent a lot of time hashing over the issue from every angle and it deserves a hearing. Given the makeup of the committee I will wager they have some good ideas that should be discussed. That discussion begins in earnest Monday at 6 o’clock.

On the other hand, it’s not all Champagne and unicorns out there. For that we are reminded pretty much hourly because of this weird presidential election where few are enthusiastic about the two main choices. While the majority of people seem to want to blow up the current flawed political system, there is a real fear that Donald may literally blow up the world if elected and Hillary may sloppily focus on blowing up her bank account. Neither candidate option brings great joy for a great many people.

And then there’s the email we got Tuesday from U.S. senator Cory Gardener lambasting the recent projection that health care premiums in Colorado for the individual market will increase by 20.4 percent on average in 2017. That makes me want to blow up the world. It is becoming ridiculous and untenable and I can see why people will grasp at any straw, including the idea of a new amendment to the Colorado constitution that says all medical services will be free for every resident. Something has to change with the current health care system and that will take cooperation between political parties. So, yeah, good luck with that.

And let’s not even get into Brad and Angelina. Angelina is filing for divorce? Weren’t those two just here in Crested Butte a couple of winters ago with their six kids? Maybe they should pop back in for Friday’s handfasting ceremony at the community feast and give it another go. Give the world some hope, Brangelina!

As we move toward ski season, we received the latest press information from the ski area and it sort of made us happy in the office. It starts out: “While many ski resorts are focused on bigger, newer, faster and more, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) is working harder to simply provide guests with the best experience at the ‘Last Great Colorado Ski Town….’”

And after touting a new coffee place in the Treasury Center and bragging on the Umbrella Bar as something new, the next highlight was a promo for the new bathrooms and “hydration station” (a water fountain?) in Paradise Warming House. “Looking for an upgraded experience, but burned by restrooms in the past, guests at Crested Butte can leave their wounded hearts behind and take another shot at finding love… The pursuit of happily-ever-after just got a whole lot easier,” the CBMR press release stated.

Connecting love and new bathrooms made me happy.

And finally, I have to mention the passing of a true Crested Butte pioneer. Actually the true Crested Butte pioneer when it comes to the current ski area in this valley. Dick Eflin, who was a founder of the resort that began the turn of this little mountain village from a quiet former mining community to a (sometimes) bustling ski mountain, moved to the great powder run in the heavens last week. His family did not want a formal story or “in memory” in the paper and we respect that. But we must note his contribution to all of us here.

Eflin was one of those fellows that, to me, always struck a Euro ski vibe that I love in these hills. His grace, the way he carried himself, his sweaters all provided a dignity that represented his vision of a joyous alpine retreat. His tales of the old days and of trying to make this place a real resort were wonderful and funny. Dick’s flair for telling his stories made me smile. Heck, just the fact that he envisioned this valley as a ski resort in the early 1960s shaped my life and yours since without his vision 99 percent of us wouldn’t be here today and our lives would be very different. In that sense, Dick has made me very happy. Thank you sir.

—Mark Reaman

We are living in interesting times…

Sometimes understanding perspective is difficult in the moment. It is sort of like living every day with a grade school kid and not noticing that he or she is growing. But if you are a friend and not a parent and happen to run into that kid after a couple of months, the change can sometimes be dramatic.

So, when you or your kids are reading the “20 Years Ago Today” column in the paper in 2036, it might show that these last few weeks or months in 2016 were probably pretty momentous to the town. These are indeed interesting times. You might not see it every day but the kid is changing pretty fast right now.

Here’s why…

—If we are lucky, this could be the year that the threat of a mine on Red Lady is forever gone. The steps are in place to make that a reality. For 40 years, the community has had a fighting chip on its shoulder as the people have relentlessly fought the idea of a molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons.

But now, if Crested Butte citizens approve a $2 million ballot issue this fall (that won’t raise any taxes) and the pieces fall into place with mining company Freeport McMoRan, the U.S. Congress and the president of the United States, there could be a permanent withdrawal of any mining of minerals on that mountain. It sounds pretty far-fetched but it could actually happen. The town is ready, the mining company appears ready and the politics with our U.S. senators and representatives could come together. It would be pretty incredible for the pieces to fall into place but it appears there is a real shot. Even if the voters approve the issue, there would still be a lot of heavy lifting to do, but it will be as close as we’ve come in decades. So let’s make it happen.

To take the communal mind shift from a community fighting for its spiritual mountain against global mining interests to a community walking hand-in-hand with an international mining company to focus on mine-related remediation and improved water quality is huge. What will that do to our general community reputation? Will we go from jumping into immediate fighting stance on almost anything to cooperation in all aspects of community? Will the loss of a mining threat put the place into resort hyper-drive?

It seems to me that it would be a significant change of attitude and one that will benefit future generations of Crested Butte. Like getting a high school back in town, it is certain to bring significant change to the community and it should be a major change for the better. This is exciting stuff if those pieces fall into place and it will start with how the citizens of Crested Butte cast their votes this November. We will look closer at this throughout the fall.

—Last week the Crested Butte Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) approved an expanded Crested Butte Center for the Arts. It will be a big building in Town Park and one that can cater to the growing variety of arts in the upper valley. It is not a small project and there is still a lot of work to be done. But if the money can be raised to complete the new facility, it should prime the pump for the north end of the valley to really make the arts an even more valuable piece of the spiritual and economic makeup of Crested Butte. Add to that the fact that the Mt. Crested Butte Biery-Witt Center is close to its fundraising goal and the community could end up with two major arts facilities in the near future. That’s a lot of art potential for a small town.

—The first big affordable housing complex began filling up last month. Anthracite Place provides a spot for low-income folks trying to stay here and make a life and a living. As Crested Butte becomes more and more expensive—and with no mine threat and better arts facilities—that will likely continue at an even faster pace. It’s no longer easy for ski bum types to buy a place up here. That’s a sad reality and why we need subsidized affordable housing. There will always be a need for such projects if you want the town and valley to be able to keep workers living in the broader community and not commuting from Montrose or wherever. Not every resort community has places for the dishwashers, the bus drivers and the musicians to reside. It is important to this town to keep workers living here and Anthracite Place provides such an opportunity.

In that vein, this is the week the first locals were able to go under contract for deed-restricted affordable housing lots on blocks 79 and 80 in town. These will be tilted more toward families and young professionals who want to make the commitment to stay here. That is another step in the struggle to keep the community real.

—The new Sixth Street Station proposal made it through its first BOZAR review last week. It is not a done deal by any means but the developers are no longer asking for a zoning change. They are looking at a number of hotel beds that might alleviate some VRBO-type mania inside the town limits. It too would be a big building and it would certainly be the new focal point for the northwest part of town.

—The Cypress Foothills developers received the first major county approval for their proposed “hybrid” development that entails a potential town annexation and some more county home sites just to the north of the current Crested Butte boundaries. The public land that is part of the proposed deal could include a school site, an emergency services center such as a fire hall, parks, river access and affordable housing. It too will have a big impact on the look and feel of the community.

—There is the fact that for the first time ever, more than 700 students enrolled this year in the Crested Butte Community School. Families seem to have figured out that living in a small town with a great educational opportunity is unique in this country. Throw in the ski area and countless outdoor amenities (and now a faster growing arts community and hopefully no threat of a mine) and the attraction probably won’t go away for people with the means to resettle in a good mountain village with their kids.

—Add in the hiring this week of a brand new Crested Butte town manager to guide a lot of these new developments, the state coming to the Town Council this month to start to solidify a Red Lady roundabout plan, the idea of developing a camping area in Avalanche Park, more buses serving both ends of the valley and CB South, a potential new Kapushion subdivision development in town, marijuana becoming a booming business throughout the county, the county shifting to power its vehicles with compressed natural gas, the ski area looking to expand into Teo 2—and who knows what else is brewing under the radar. There is no shortage of big changes happening right now.

Now to be frankly honest, not all of these changes are going to be great for everyone. If you live here and saw a future job at a mine, the change isn’t helping you. The prices of real estate in the valley always go up—and then go down—but I would imagine the floor is getting higher.

So while you may feel things are shifting a bit and the town is becoming a bit more gentrified, I think the real perspective is that we are in the midst of some major potential changes for the community. The details are still not settled on every issue. So if you want to look back at the “20 Years Ago Today” column in 2036 and help determine what it says—and how this place evolves —now is the time to jump in and help shape the big changes that are now happening. As the old Chinese saying goes … We are living in interesting times.

—Mark Reaman

Profile: Mike Arbaney

Mike Arbaney’s home’s architecture and decor is a ski-bum-guy-house, a throwback to the days of a more raw Crested Butte, reminiscent with posters of the resort’s ski runs and events, lighted beer signs, and the notorious leg lamp in the window. It is, in a breath, unpretentiously refreshing and nostalgic of a time when neighborhoods were intact with down home local friends making their way through the seasons and dirt streets.

The coffee table is covered with stacked issues of motorcycle and hotrod enthusiast magazines, fodder for any discerning motor-head with a penchant for fixing vintage gas-powered street machines, some of which sit magnificently out in Arbaney’s front yard.

As the fourth generation born in Aspen and raised in Basalt, Mike says he feels like he’s won the life lottery being able to live in Crested Butte. Besides his family working in the silver and ore mines, Mike’s history is steeped in Colorado pioneering mountain life, and he says, “One of my very distant relatives had hiked over from Leadville to Basalt to start a ranch. He had a bunch of daughters and he bought each one of them a ranch and then married them all off. Unrelated to working in the mines, they grew potatoes, hundreds of acres of potatoes. And potatoes are still my favorite food,” he laughs. “My parents still grow an acre of potatoes in Basalt.”

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

Basalt was a pretty small town back when he was growing up. Mike’s senior high school had only 32 graduates in his class of 1995. As a child, he and his buddies did anything and everything that had to do with being outside—building forts and being boys. His father and uncle worked as ski instructors at Snowmass the very first year the resort opened, and Arbaney did a lot of skiing from the time he was three years old. He also went hunting and fishing through his growing-up years in the Roaring Fork valley.

In school, Mike’s creativity was expressed through his artwork, mainly watercolors. But he was also working in construction at an early age, all through high school, building what he describes as “Big fancy houses up in Aspen. I loved working construction and I was making really good money for a high school kid. I didn’t have plans to go to college because I was pretty content, but I got a lot of pressure from teachers and peers to continue my education.” When he was awarded a large scholarship from the Colorado 500 Bike Ride, a charity dirt bike ride that funds mountain community organizations, he thought, “Oh man, now I have to figure out what I want to do.”

One day, while he was out on a construction job on an Aspen house, he had a revelation about his future. “I wanted to know why we had to do all the complicated things we do on the construction site, and that’s what triggered me to go into engineering, wanting to know how things work.”

Mike attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, graduating in 1999 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. He started his own company in Crested Butte, Structural Inc., in 2006. “Architects are my main clients. I do the structural parts of those plans because nobody wants their house to cave in.”

Before moving to Crested Butte, right out of college, Mike went to work as a structural engineer in Carbondale. Then 9/11 happened and Mike recalls, “Everything just stopped in construction, but I was on salary and I basically went out hiking, biking, or fishing every day since I didn’t have any work. It was awesome, but I realized it wasn’t going to last too long.”

Sure enough, Mike was laid off shortly after, but he decided to make the best of it. “I took off and did a three-week motorcycle trip, meeting my parents at Sturgis [the infamous meetup in North Dakota for bikers]. When I got back, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. A friend told me there was an engineer in Crested Butte, David Houghton, looking to hire, so I called him. He said he wasn’t looking for anybody, but we talked for about half an hour and he decided he could use somebody with a structural engineering degree. I stopped by the next day and he gave me about ten hours of work a week.”

With a sparse work schedule, Mike found plenty of time for the slopes. “When you’re only working ten hours a week you can ski a lot,” he says with a big grin that you can imagine encrusted with ice from faceshots in powder.

A few years ago, Mike bought a parcel of land in Crested Butte South to fulfill his goal of building his dream house.

“ Small house, giant garage, big fancy kitchen,” he describes, his hands waving to express the size of a huge garage to shelter his vintage metal babies. He pulls out blueprints of a massive building he calls his Garage-Mahal that will hold four cars and a bunch of motorcycles. He’s already well on his way with a plentiful collection of antique cars and motorcycles.

“My dad has always been into motorcycles and hotrods, so I grew up with it. I remember sitting on the back step of my house when I was a kid, polishing aluminum parts for his 1951 Indian motorcycle. When I was 14, my dad found a 1942 Harley in Naturita and we bought it for $500,” he says of the screaming deal.

“He helped me restore the whole thing and I learned how to paint, do the pin-striping and the wiring, and we took it to Sturgis that year, in 1994. I won first place at the bike show and got a trophy as tall as I was. I’ve had this affinity for cars and bikes forever. I like to go to car shows and I single out the ones that have more recreational opportunities, like in Moab I can go mountain biking on Porcupine Rim and still go check out the cars. In Las Vegas, it’s all rockabilly music and costumes, and I like that show because the style of cars that are there are the style that I really love—traditional 1940s and ‘50s hotrods and customs.”

Arbaney’s wanderlust seems to go hand in hand with his affection for beautiful vehicles. It gives him a sense freedom and he aspires to travel a lot more in the near future. About five years ago, he headed off to India with Steve Belz, a former Crested Butte artist.

The duo flew into Delhi and bought two Royal Enfield motorcycles. “They’re a classic cycle,” Mike explains, “and we toured through the Himalayas on them. We went over a pass that was 18,000 feet and we got to see all the Buddhists temples on the way. Intense is a good way to describe India.” He uses his uncle’s imagery of his own experience.

“If you want to know what it’s like before you get there, just remember back when you were a kid and you kicked the biggest ant pile you could find and millions of ants came out going in all directions for no rhyme or reason. India is just like that only with people.” The bikers cruised through non-tourist areas where Arbaney felt the real freedom of a motorcycle.

“I liked riding because you’re really out in the elements and you feel more connected. You feel more freedom, you’re not connected to anybody’s schedule, you can start and stop anywhere you want,” as opposed to using public transportation, he clarifies. “If you’re traveling on a bus, you can’t stop and take a picture or stop at a restaurant you think looks good. On a motorcycle, you can do whatever you want, wherever and whenever you want. You can go get lost.”

Recently, he took a few weeks to motorcycle around Alaska after flying into Anchorage. “I’d never been to Alaska and it’s always been someplace that’s fascinated me. I rented a motorcycle and went wherever the weather was nice, all over the state. The second part of that trip was rafting down the Kisaralik River, near Bethel, in the western part of Alaska,” Mike says of the river run he did with close Buttian friends.

“There are ten different species of fish in that river and we caught all ten. It was cool to see those glaciers and big mountains and it’s cool to be in a place that hasn’t been screwed with.” Mike feels that Alaska has nature as it’s supposed to be.

Mike is also a prolific painter, and his favorite subject is, of course, creating canvases of cars and motorcycles. His illustration-quality watercolors of antique cars, resplendent with shine, combine his love of both painting and cars. He had attended the Canvases and Cocktails classes through the Crested Butte Center of the Arts (CBCA) and he laughs, “Actually what really happened is that I was out walking one night, admiring Crested Butte mountain and the stars above. It was dominating my senses and I thought that it looked just like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The next day I got an email from the CBCA saying they were going to do a class recreating that very Van Gogh painting in Canvases and Cocktails.”

Mike attended that class, interpreting the famous painting in his own style—a panorama of town dropped into the forefront with swirling dark blue night skies dotted with stars. It got him switched from watercolors to acrylics.

“It’s a hobby. Having an engineering job, it’s nice to have something totally out of the scope of work, something so different and helps me to relax.” He sometimes has to force himself to take a break and make time to paint, “Even if it’s just a tiny painting because I feel like if you don’t do it because you don’t have time, the next thing you know a year goes by before you’ve painted again.”

Although traveling to foreign places is high on Mike’s list, he’s not leaving Crested Butte too long for unknown parts. In a perfect world, Mike plans on starting to build his Crested Butte South house this coming spring, with its enormous garage and big kitchen where he can bake his mouth-watering pies. “I want a big fancy kitchen because I like to cook and make fancy pies.” He pulls out his phone with photos so scrumptious you can almost catch the aroma, from his peach pies to Bronco-themed pies, replete with the Bronco logo.

“I make pheasant pot pies too and no, they don’t taste like chicken,” he laughs. “I love it here. It’s a great place to come home to. I don’t see myself ever moving but if skiing ever gets boring, I’m out of here,” he says. “But until then, this is home and I don’t know how it could get boring. I have a job that I really like, I have a good business. Plus, there are lots of great outdoor activities and the fact that you have all the biking trails right from town and backcountry skiing so close. The Al Johnson is my favorite Crested Butte holiday. I’ve only missed skiing it once in the 16 years I’ve been here. Another thing I really like about this place is that it’s still a tight-knit community and it’s cool to go to the post office and run into people you know.”