The razor’s edge of mid-summer

It is the middle of July and that normally means the middle of the active summer tourist season. Feeling the hot razor’s edge? It is busy, unusually warm and somewhat humid, the future is not certain with Vail on the horizon and no one knows what Crested Butte is morphing into. This is perhaps one of the roughest periods of the year in this growing mountain town—at least until mid-November when the bills come due and there is little work at all. But that’s another story. Fact is, almost everyone is walking the edge, whether because the work is over-the-top or the housing is precarious, or it’s just too hard to navigate Elk Avenue. This is the regular reminder to hang in there and go find a cool, quiet place in the woods to escape and regroup.

Some quick thoughts….

Summer used to start right at the Fourth of July and end at Arts Fest but now it begins in the middle of June or even Memorial Day, with significant weekend pops into October. In a month or so the southern schools will start back up and that slows everything down. Still, I really don’t want September to ever be like July.

It feels like the Fourth of July was months ago and not just last week. This year Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley UpChurch said it was one of the longest parades ever, with 52 floats. While the spectator numbers were nowhere near the peak of 2015 when about 15,000 people crammed into the town, UpChurch said it was about normal, with around 10,000 people. The numbers sure appeared thinner to me this year than last and the traffic and parking in town was not snaking to the cemetery but there were still a lot of people for a Wednesday holiday.

There is still some venting going on with the Brush Creek proposal, both in public and behind the scenes in the county’s facilitation effort. A timeout was called to see if constructive dialogue could begin in a fresh effort to work toward a compromise between so-called “stakeholders” that would result in fewer unhappy people and actual workforce housing. Poking around with many of the players this week, I’d say the jury is still out on this one. It looks like there is room to move but only if people on all sides get beyond what has certainly resulted in some personal acrimony and trust issues. There is opportunity but it is in the, shall we say, “challenging” phase. The trust element from all involved is on a razor’s edge, which is too bad since it honestly appears most everyone has the same goal—to get some houses for local workers built on that parcel. I continue to think there is enough common ground where a successful middle can be established if people can partner. But partnering takes trust. We’ll know soon enough if there is viable hope left in this particular project, since the next county meeting is slated for July 20.

The local post office is closing for an early lunch because of “staffing issues.” I miss the crusty ginger on the radio but he sure knows how to stir it up on social media. Trump. People are driving fast and blowing stop signs. People are demanding swimming pools and refrigerated hockey rinks. Schumer. Why do people drive 30 miles per hour up Elk Ave. to slam on their brakes in front of the Stash to let a family of 12 out in the street? McConnell. Blah, blah, blah…

What used to be done 25 years ago through community barn raising is now done through community fundraising. And boy, is there fundraising. The Center for the Arts picked up millions to finish its expansion from a family with long-time ties to the community. The Feldbergs have been extremely generous to the causes in Crested Butte for years, especially in regard to the arts, and this week was a highlight. The Budds are another family that loves the place and has helped make it what it is with their support of local causes. They hosted the Wailers for a fundraiser for the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association last weekend and put on a party for a cause anyone who rides or hikes around here will appreciate. And don’t forget the Crested Butte Land Trust efforts to raise money for a land swap to protect Long Lake and bolster some affordable housing funds. That is a great cause that is just in the initial stages. Lord knows there are scores of other great causes out there working right now to protect what we have that makes this place special. Thanks to all of you.

And finally, on a good political note: The Colorado Secretary of State’s office sent us an email commending the people in the Gunnison County elections office for the way they ran the recent primary election. Unaffiliated voters who got both the Dem and GOP ballot were instructed to vote only one but across the state, 2.4 percent voted on both. The percentage in Gunnison County was 1.1 percent and Secretary of State communications director Lynn Bartels made it clear in her note to the paper that “This is a really big deal and a big kudos for Clerk Kathy Simillion and her staff.”

Cheers to them.

And cheers to all of you doing the good work in a peak time. Your life will return soon and your bank account will be better off. Hang in there but still take a breath and figure a time to get out there. It will help get you off the razor’s edge.

—Mark Reaman

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