We are half way through the winter season. Days are longer. Temperatures warmer. January (as mellow as it was) is behind us. That’s always a good thing. As we plow into the year, there are some things to watch…
* The Crested Butte Town Council’s moves with affordable housing. A long work session and advice from their consultant seemed to get through to some of the council members. Bottom line: things are different from the boom-boom years of mountain resort town growth. You can’t rely on the old formulas. You have to reevaluate and look at the real situation here today and try new methods to bring in funds that will enhance what everyone acknowledges is a good thing—keeping locals local. Sure, that means collecting some dough from developers but that can’t be the only thing that drives affordable housing. And the fees can’t be so high that nothing ever gets built. The idea of adaptability, flexibility and partnership to enhance a pretty good affordable housing program and maybe even spur some job growth is a good thing. Relying on the old “stick it to the developers” template could have the unintended consequence of stifling job opportunities or boosting commercial rents to a level unaffordable by a start-up business.
* The Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. A board election is on the short horizon and Lord knows the chamber is ready for a new start. I don’t know anyone connected with the organization that wouldn’t say it’s just been a tough time over there. That doesn’t mean the current board members or staff or membership can’t participate, but given recent upheavals, everyone wants some stability. It is time for a new, deep breath and elections have a way of helping to bring in some fresh air and different ideas.
* Plows. Keep an eye out for town plows… especially in town. The town of Crested Butte is caught in a weird spot when it comes to some liability. State regulations and insurance company interpretations have made heavy machinery essentially not covered under some town insurance. So if a plow hits your car, there isn’t municipal insurance coverage. That is giving town officials some heartburn. They are offering to pay money toward the deductable but that isn’t really enough. If the town screws up—and we all screw up now and then—the town should take responsibility and pay for the damages. That’s just common sense. But what’s even more common sense is for the state legislature to fix the broken rule and acknowledge that plows are vehicles too. That would take care of the problem.
* County commissioner elections. Two of the three are up for election. Hap Channell has indicated he won’t run again. Paula Swenson has indicated she will. Independent candidate Polly Oberosler has officially thrown her hat in the ring for Hap’s seat. I’ve heard rumblings a fellow Dem might try to take over Paula’s seat. Gunnison mayor Jonathan Houke is also eying Hap’s seat. Phil Chamberland gets to sit back and watch. That’s usually better than answering questions from the Crested Butte News about your favorite pet or TV show. It is very early in the election process but it is something to watch.
* Fracking regs. There is a lot of movement with the fracking issue right now at the local and state level. The more local control, the better. It is imperative to make sure the process is clean and safe and protects our air, water and food. That is something to really keep an eye on in the near future as our neighbors in the North Fork are starting to feel the heavy impacts.
There are a lot more things on the horizon. We haven’t even touched on fireworks. And we doubt the representatives of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte will touch on that topic, either, at the scheduled joint work session next Wednesday. But they will sometime.
Keep an eye on it…