Traffic, road impacts take priority
The town councils of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte got together this week to discuss issues of mutual importance.
The four items on the agenda included: addressing off-site impacts caused by ski area expansion; stabilizing the finances of the Mountain Express bus service; agreeing on the future of a piece of jointly owned property along Brush Creek Road; and the state of the local economy and possibility of creating a countywide economic summit.
At the start of the meeting Crested Butte Mayor Alan Bernholtz noted that the different topics were related to some degree, so the discussion could overlap.
Crested Butte councilman Skip Berkshire said impacts from additional development and population in Mt Crested Butte had been studied extensively. “We’ve had repeated discussions and studies that have indicated different solutions and ways to address the looming impacts of infrastructure and traffic,” Berkshire said. He said he wasn’t expecting the councils to make any big decisions about how to handle impacts related to development or ski area expansion but it would be nice if they could come up with some “mutually agreeable recommendations.”
Crested Butte councilwoman Kimberly Metsch said her major concern was increased traffic on Gothic Road between the two towns as a result of CBMR’s developments. CBMR is proposing 1,100 additional residential units in North Village, nearly 500 in Mountaineer Square North, and additional units as the Prospect subdivision gets built out.
Crested Butte councilman Billy Rankin said he was concerned about the impact to Sixth Street caused by numerous large construction trucks.
Mt. Crested Butte councilman Andrew Gitin said parking problems went hand and hand with increased vehicle use. “Where are all these people going to park?” he asked.
The councils also discussed improving public transportation, and later in the meeting agreed to help Mountain Express purchase two new buses.
The councils agreed to form a transportation impact subcommittee consisting of Mt. Crested Butte Mayor William Buck, Mt. Crested Butte councilman Mike Kube, Bernholtz and Berkshire.
Moving away from transportation issues, Crested Butte councilman Dan Escalante asked if developments like North Village would be phased.
Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick said the town had not seen an official proposal from the ski area yet, and he didn’t expect to see one for at least another year.
“At least,” agreed CBMR planning director John Sale.
Fitzpatrick said large developments were typically phased, but it all came down to the real estate market. “Real estate is going to drive the way things are built,” he said.
Affordable housing was also discussed, and the councils agreed that both towns were already making a good effort at providing local affordable housing.
The councils also discussed the future of a piece of property owned by the two towns, CBMR and Gunnison County off Brush Creek Road and Highway 135. The councils agreed that the ultimate future of the parcel would be determined later but acceptable options included selling all or part of the land to complete a transportation project, trading it for another parcel of land, building affordable housing on the property, and building a Park and Ride facility on the property.
Regarding the local economy, Buck said he was in support of creating a countywide forum for discussion, and Berkshire said that public input currently was underutilized in economic decision-making.
Bernholtz also discussed a letter sent by the Friends of Snodgrass Mountain to the Forest Service asking the federal agency to conduct an economic feasibility study of the Snodgrass ski expansion proposal before entering the National Environmental Policy Act review process. Buck said he hadn’t seen the letter, and Bernholtz said he would forward it on.
No future joint meetings were scheduled.