Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

Skier visits drop double digits at CBMR last season

Part of nationwide trend

Snow may be falling in the Rocky Mountains in May, but it’s little consolation for a ski industry that took a major hit during the 2011-2012 ski season. Resorts across the country are reporting major drops in annual skier visits, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) is no exception. Read More »

Pot and prom

This isn’t a piece about legalizing pot—something that makes logical sense and we can discuss more as the November election approaches—but rather a piece about choices and their intersection with pot and local kids in Crested Butte. This is a piece about how good alternatives are being encouraged and were actually chosen in a situation where bad choices are not uncommon.

I’ve received some concerned comments about the two photo pages we ran in last week’s newspaper. One showed scenes from the local high school prom. The other showed scenes from the April 20 Townie Takeover. Some felt the 4/20 townie takeover photos were a nod on our part to glorify smoking pot and sent mixed messages to our kids, who were celebrating prom the same week.
Those are legitimate concerns and we appreciate the feedback. The comments gave me a chance to further reflect on the decision to run the photos. And upon further consideration, I think we’d run both again. The two events are both reflective of the community and its values.

Let’s be honest about the discussion.
There is a lot of pot in this town. Some of it is “legal” through the state’s medical marijuana laws. All of it is still illegal under federal laws banning the herb. Both can be obtained pretty easily. For the kids growing up in a somewhat transient resort town with a college (I mean, university) down the road, it is there. Every local kid is exposed to marijuana at a relatively young age. Whether smelling it while riding the chairlift, seeing medical marijuana ads on the bus or watching older kids use it, pot is prevalent in Crested Butte. So it comes down to reality and choices.
The Community School teachers and administrators are aware. There have been substance abuse issues (alcohol and drugs) at previous proms. So this year they proactively took action. They brought in Brooke Harless of the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project (GCSAPP) before prom and worked with the students on the impacts of substance abuse for people their age. They held open discussions and used real life examples. And by all accounts, it worked. This year’s prom was a rousing success. The kids all had a great time without drugs and alcohol. The local kids made good choices.

And honestly, that will be the way of their world as they grow older. Life is about choices. Pot isn’t going to go away, especially in resort communities like Crested Butte. Our kids will have a lot of exposure to the drug and alcohol culture. They will “experiment.” Parties are a part of the culture of this place. The main street of town certainly has more than its share of drinking establishments. PBR seems to be the official drink of Crested Butte. Some people here seem to dress up and party if the day begins with birds chirping. Townie takeovers spring up monthly.
To ignore our realities would not make them go away. But to accept the culture head-on and offer our children good, age appropriate alternatives—and then see them actually make the good choices—is another reason to be proud of the young adults this village is producing. Nice work, teachers. Nice work, kids.

Affordable housing direction proves the council is ninja

The Crested Butte Town Council is ninja. They can see into the future and anticipate the coming tsunami of Crested Butte growth and development. They have ultimate faith that they can envision what’s certainly coming and plan accordingly. And what they see is a town booming with high-priced development and enough forethought to house anyone who wants to work and live here. It is a bold move and sort of the proverbial “all-in” poker action that either brings back a pile of chips by preserving some good elements of this community or sees our stack shrink as the action helps hinder any return to a vibrant economy. Good luck to them.
Based on their future vision, now would be a good time to buy up property in Crested Butte. They see an inevitable return to the good times of high salaries, higher real estate values and booming business. Buy now and swim in equity soup.
During discussions since last November over mitigation fees for affordable housing, the council members have stated the certainty of a return to prosperity. There is no chance Crested Butte won’t thrive and they want to be ready for the unavoidable boom.
They have seen the current economic numbers for Crested Butte and admit that it doesn’t make any sense for a developer to start a commercial project right now. Strictly on a numbers analysis, commercial development would lose money. And the council admitted at its last meeting that by implementing affordable housing mitigation fees that will settle in at about $60 a square foot on all new commercial development, they are prolonging the current pain for a sweeter future. They are fully aware. Ninja. It is a bold political statement and strategy.
Responding to the mayor’s conclusion that the new ordinance setting the fees is a “slow-growth or even no-growth” policy for town, the rest of the council didn’t flinch. The intention is good; to ensure that people of all economic layers can live and work in Crested Butte. Few would object to that. But whether they like it or not, passing these fees does nothing to make them be perceived as a “pro-business” council, no matter how many food trucks they allow. They are honestly between a rock and hard place.
Council members are purposefully right-sizing the pace of development in town to reflect their values. Those values are topped by the idea of helping people to live in town without having to be millionaires. But that means a slower return to the trades, so carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers will all have to wait a bit longer to see some regular work. As councilperson David Owen has stated, he’d rather see no growth in town as opposed to growth that doesn’t pay its own way. That brings consequences. Some locals might have to leave now to find work while this decision protects some future locals not yet here.
One thought on the unintended consequences of this move is that it could reshape the middle class business community to where there would be little opportunity for real middle class business opportunities. Think about it: if the fees contribute to a construction cost so high that a middle class entrepreneur can’t afford to build, then some small businesses won’t have a place to exist. If a rich developer doesn’t care about cost and willingly pays the housing fees, the town could become populated with hobby business owners who don’t need to sell enough books or burritos to actually pay the rent. It becomes stereotypically Aspen-esque by default. Real middle class business people could be forced to go somewhere where the cost of building or renting a space makes sense from a business and lifestyle perspective. Now granted, even under the hobby business scenario, the barista will have a place to live, but the hopeful middle class business owner would be pushed somewhere else. That is my fear with these fees—that they push us toward being the place the council speaks ill of.
But I don’t have ninja powers to see the future so I could be wrong.
One Crested Butte resident at the meeting Monday asked how the council could justify squeezing developers and current business owners hoping to expand by charging large fees and spending those fees for community housing (“a bit socialist,” he said), while a few minutes later some of the same council members touted the benefits of a capitalistic free market for a new business niche with late-night food.
Actually, both are using the power of government to help shape the future. And based on its decisions, this council appears to be shaping a future of young, small-business people who want to live in subsidized housing in town and contribute to the community. That’s not an unreasonable vision given the economic realities of a resort community. But it is a different vision from independent young hippies ready to take the risk of opening a business in an end-of-the-road mountain town where they planned to work hard and play harder—an attraction of this place 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.

This council can see 10 or 20 years into the future. Ninja. They obviously don’t think the world will be ending December 21 with the end of the Mayan calendar. So they are, with boldness, and awareness, deciding to preserve the future with a cost to the present. That’s not a bad thing. Building an avenue for people of all economic strata to live in town is valuable and part of Crested Butte’s charm. The vision is good but it comes with some immediate sacrifice in slowing down potential growth and jobs in the trades. And if this place starts to grow quickly into a place where cost doesn’t matter, the council will have set up a plan. But will that be a place you want to live?
The council believes they are ninja. Given the short-term consequences, let’s hope they are right.

Making It Work: Part 4 Conclusions

Diversity proves profitable for the valley

This is the final installment of our series looking at the ways people are making it work in the Gunnison Valley. Some have been here for decades and others are hoping to be here that long. Many have a connection to Western State College. Most made it here from somewhere else. But, as far as we can tell, everyone, in some fashion, relies on a connection between the Gunnison Valley and the outside world, whether it’s a physical connection or a virtual one, especially now. Without them, can people of the Gunnison Valley compete in a 21st century economy? If we don’t compete, can we survive? Read More »

Making It Work: Part 3 Diversity proves profitable for community

Finding work in the Gunnison Valley isn’t always easy, but find someone with one job and you’re likely to find someone with two. As economist Paul Holden points out in a 2009 report on The Economy of Gunnison County, low wages and a high cost of living often make multiple sources of income necessary. This week we’ll look at a few people who have managed to make it here by dividing their time without losing sight of what’s important. Read More »

Get creative to make the most of light snow and heavy sun

Biking in January?…sure, why not?

The short-term forecast looks like more of the same: sun, blue skies, and temps hovering around 30 degrees. With 12 lifts open, Crested Butte Mountain Resort really is doing a phenomenal job of keeping Crested Butte on its skis. But if you’re looking for things to do après-ski, or find yourself with extra down time, consider the following, affordable ways to stay entertained:

Trade your sticks for blades

A new book, New York Diaries, edited by Teresa Carpenter, says that New Yorkers used to ice skate on the canal that is now Canal Street. New Yorkers too poor to buy their own skates would polish a rib of beef and “fasten it on their shoes to skate on.” Luckily, Crested Butte ice skate rentals are available at the Crested Butte Nordic Center for $9 for adults and $7 for kids. Extra time has been set aside for public skating at the Big Mine Ice Arena over Martin Luther King Weekend (check the Parks and Rec page on the Town of Crested Butte web site for specific times)—somehow, the atmosphere of the new roof makes skating feel like a much bigger deal. But there’s also skating available under the wide-open skies of Crested Butte South, and the word on the street is that ice skating on Blue Mesa is better than it’s been in 20 years.


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Local leaders discuss bringing art and education to valley’s “brand”

Collaboration keeps coming up

Trying to figure out how to bring together individual pieces of a potential economic jigsaw puzzle was the topic of discussion last week at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. Some of the valley’s most influential non-political leaders gathered Friday, December 16 at the request of former Crested Butte Academy headmaster David Rothman to discuss how to build on the area’s art and education infrastructure.



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CB Council reaffirms fee increase for local housing

Too far, too fast or not fast enough?

The Crested Butte Town Council gave direction to the town staff at a work session Monday evening to take the next year to “phase in” maximum affordable housing fees. The direction will essentially lower the current affordable housing fee from $83 a square foot to $38 a square foot. Read More »