Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Search Results for: resort town life

What a great couple of events

Dear Community:
Wow, what a great Fat Tire Bike Week and July 4th! Neither of these events would have been possible without the help and support of a lot of individuals and organizations. I would like to take this opportunity to humbly thank them all: Read More »

Crested Butte council exploring economic development support

“It’s not a no-growth policy—it’s an appropriate growth policy”

Allowing people to eat and drink on Elk Avenue. Not closing Elk Avenue any more than the town already does. Opening up the Arts Festival tents so they don’t block existing businesses. These were some of the ideas discussed during a Tuesday morning brainstorming session between some Crested Butte business owners and some members of the Town Council and staff. Read More »

Ideas for the future…

As one person said to me this past week, “I thought I’d accept the challenge in your last editorial.” So we sat down to chat on Elk Avenue last Friday. There were several others who called or commented to me about the idea of the future of the upper valley. Some were worried, while others said it was all moving fine and the “doom and gloom” aspect of the current vibe was over the top. Refined, it comes down to a few issues, and here is what I heard. These are the main ideas distilled by me… both short-term and for the long haul.

1. Everyone wants a ski area here. People like what it brings and understand the economic driver that it provides. But almost everyone stated that CBMR needs to be more positive in its message to the general “tourist” public. Go ahead and work the system and file the appeals over the Snodgrass decision and even go to court if necessary but stop sending out the message in the New York Times and Denver Post of how unfair the Forest Service has been to you and how little terrain there is here. Hit the reset button. Send a positive message about this great place to attract people here again.
2. One fellow who has been a big supporter of lifts on Snodgrass is now expressing fear that the current ownership/management group will spend all their time, money and resources on battling Snodgrass as the rest of the hill falls into disrepair. “I think I’m now against Snodgrass because I want to live in a ski town,” he said.
3. The most prevalent feeling is to think out of the box, look to the future and get ahead of it. As author Thomas Friedman says, the world is flat and getting flatter. Historical concepts are becoming irrelevant. People want to visit this valley, live in this valley and raise their kids here, but many work globally. People want to vacation here but stay in touch with the London office. Accommodate that shift. Go first-rate wireless everywhere from Gunni or Crested Butte South to Gothic. Prioritize local government funds on that type of infrastructure. Installing new turn lanes at the Four-way is nice infrastructure but installing lightening-fast wireless and seamless video conferencing is better infrastructure.
The valley should look at attracting what is coming and not use the map that worked at other places in the 1980s, 1990s or in 2007. Be ahead of the other resorts. Think new economy. There are a lot of smart people here who could probably give very specific ideas of how to stay ahead of the curve.
Be a leader in the future of what a mountain resort can offer. Be a family mountain destination that is part old wooden beams above the fireplace in the lodge, part historic mining town and part new generation iPad.
4. The Prime the Pump theory. In the worst economic climate in decades, the towns and regulating agencies should relax some of the rules. For example, lighten up the sign ordinance for a year. Hanging a banner promoting community events at the Four-way Stop or Second and Elk is not going to ruin the character of the town. Charge half price for business licenses during the next six months. Give a one-space break for parking fees through the end of the year for businesses looking to expand. People trying to earn a living here have some bloody knuckles. Throw them a Band-Aid.
5. Accept the fact that subdividing the west doesn’t work and isn’t the right thing to do. Accept the fact that Crested Butte is one of the harder places to get to on vacation and so fewer people will want to take a day each way for travel. Accept that instead of 1,500 people living in town, it might be better suited for 1,000 and there will be two places to get coffee in the morning instead of five. Accept that this is part of Crested Butte’s attractiveness. Stay rustic. Stay green. Stay cool. The model of preservation and conservation has worked well for Crested Butte and becomes only more valuable with each year. Sales tax is off from last year but is significantly higher than not that long ago. Those who remain here will enjoy a nice quality of small town life. Be a small ski area that attracts people who like what we have.
6. Cultivate real adventure. Be the brand. Zip lines from Paradise to Goldlink. Give the people something that says adventure. Offer free ski lessons to get people onto Staircase and Big Chute. Once they ski that, the intermediate terrain in Breckenridge will be boring and they’ll be back. Groom the customer and live up to the brand. The numbers will start ticking back up.

Again, these are ideas and concerns I heard this week from people on each side of the fence. The crux is that each suggested action requires a stated goal and direction. As one longtime local said to me at the post office: “There comes a time when you have to stop taking courses and pick a direction to graduate.”
The alternative I suppose, is to spend our time arguing about where to light the fireworks.

SIDEBAR: Reactions to Peña decision

Editor’s note: We asked people and organizations that have been involved with the Snodgrass expansion issue for their comments on the appeal decision. Here is what they told us.

“We find it amazing that one person can make a decision behind closed doors without public involvement that has such a far-reaching impact on a community.”
— Michael Kraatz, CBMR Vice President of Resort Planning and Development Read More »

A few questions, starting with: Is No the new Yes?

For some, it was a week of No. Others will argue it was a week of affirmation for what this end of the valley represents to them… which is apparently… Smallness.
The Forest Service is making it clear that it wants Crested Butte Mountain Resort to remain a relatively small ski area. The appeal over the decision not allowing ski lifts to expand to Snodgrass was turned down. There are other avenues to pursue in an effort to get more lift-served skiing on Snodgrass, and no doubt the resort will certainly follow them. But the tenor of the message coming out of the Forest Service for CBMR is to stay small. The officer looking at the resort’s appeal agreed with the local Forest Supervisor and just said No.
Downtown, the members of the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) reiterated that the proposed Sixth Street Station was a nice design but it contained two buildings that were too big. Those buildings comprised the condo-hotel aspect of the project. A hotel is something the former council was pushing for and they changed the town code to accommodate that. The BOZAR members indicated they have asked and asked the developers for less mass in those buildings but the architects weren’t listening. The proponents said they felt blindsided and didn’t feel BOZAR indicated the massing of the hotel was a showstopper. Nevertheless, given the context of two 20,000-square-foot buildings in Crested Butte, the board members just said No.
Let’s not even go to the town not letting the Chamber of Commerce put up a banner promoting Restaurant Week (which is being co-sponsored by the CB News) in Crested Butte… at least not yet.
Those opposed to both Sixth Street Station and Snodgrass will contend that the decisions made this past week are actually a Yes to the idea of being a small resort community. It could be argued that the message is for the community to focus on being a second-home resort with some tourism. A gated community, if you will. The valley will still have some of the amenities associated with a ski resort but it will be smaller than, say, a Telluride. Is that sustainable for people wanting to make a life here? I’m sure it is for some.
No matter the direction of the Crested Butte growth model, trustafarians, people whose income arrives in a post office box from corporate dividends or mummies and daddies in a far-away place, don’t need paychecks derived from here. (Full disclosure—I wish I were a trustafarian). Ski bums (like myself in the 1980s) can survive on very little, especially if rents are getting cheaper. Those who bought property in the ’80s or ’90s are probably sitting fine. If you arrive in the valley with money, life is easier. But the young family coming to paradise to pound out a middle class living is going to have a hard time with no more physical growth.

So the question to those in favor of that view is simple: If continued “physical” growth is not the way to go, what is? What is the idea, the path or the plan to bring success to this end of the valley? I’m talking success in terms of the lifestyle, the economy and the environment. How is success defined?
Is there a template that allows people to comfortably earn a living and raise a family here (and that involves real income) without growth? I’ve always been a believer in slower, smarter growth but I am respectfully asking for the successful alternative strategy.
If “physical” growth is not the desire of this community or the Forest Service, does that mean we will have to shrink to fit with the size ski resort that is already up there? Rely on Nordic skiing? Buff out more mountain bike trails? Just accept the demographic of Extreme skiing as a primary draw? Will there be a few more empty spaces downtown or are there businesses that fit into the idea of a “physical” no-growth model that would be workable?
We did just build a big new extension to the school. Was that an error? Crested Butte sales tax revenue is down about 20 percent in the first three months of the year from 2007. That probably reflects businesses, wages and real estate values at the north end of the valley. Should we expect further declines in the new model and a culling of the people trying to live here? Twenty percent down is no minor change. What does the new template mean in the long run?
The trustas, the ski bums, people who bought a house 15 or 20 years ago when prices were significantly cheaper are probably okay even if the place and economy continues to shrink. Is that the new path to success?
The idea that unbridled growth equals success has never been a good equation for Crested Butte, so some No’s really are Yes’s. But the question now is… if we are just saying no to growing, to what are we going to say yes?

CBMR Adventure Park will feature 18 holes of mini golf

New course ready to play June 19

After completing its own research, the Mt. Crested Butte Downtown Development Authority agreed to provide Crested Butte Mountain Resort with the $14,000 it needs to build an 18-hole miniature golf course in the Adventure Park. The course is due to be finished and ready to play on June 19, to coincide with the opening of the lifts and the rest of the Adventure Park. Read More »

Meet the new council members Mt. crested butte

Editor’s Note: The News fired off the following questions to the incoming councilpersons in Mt. Crested Butte, regarding issues that will likely define their time in office. Four seats were open for the election and these four stepped up so the election was canceled. Read More »

Briefs Crested Butte

Suggestion to stop the bus in the middle of town
The Crested Butte Town Council heard a request to have the Mountain Express add a new bus stop at the corner of Fourth Street and Elk Avenue. Don Cook of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, the Mountain Heritage Museum and Donita’s Cantina made the suggestion on Tuesday, February 16. Read More »

Candidates for Tourism Association Board of Directors Announced

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (GCBTA) is pleased to announce a slate of 12 board of director candidates for six open positions. A ballot will be emailed to Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce and Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce members on Feb. 23. Chamber members without email can receive a ballot in the mail by calling the Tourism Association office at 641-7992. Voting closes on March 12 at 5 p.m. Read More »