What ifs…

We are transitioning to the time of summer when things slow down enough for locals to appreciate it again. Cooler mornings and fewer visitors allow people to breathe in the blessings of a high mountain summer. And it gives us time to think about the what ifs.

What if Gary Gates and his Gatesco development team walked into the August 27 meeting with the two town councils and said the Corner at Brush Creek was willing to agree to all three of the towns’ requirements? Gates has agreed to lower the unit count on the site to the 156 that the two towns asked for but he is balking at the other two mandates of putting aside five acres for future development and having two parking spaces per unit. His attorney said there is flexibility from the development team perspective with those two issues. What if Gates simply said okay to those? Given the personal friction, what would the councils do? The 14 council members spent a ton of time getting to those three compromise positions but if Gates said, “We can do that,” what would the councils do?

What if Big Blue, the new Crested Butte Center for the Arts, was already open? It’s not, but could be soon. That will be a game changer and the board and administrators are not willing to predict a specific date when that will happen but they all hope it is before the end of the month. That is only appropriate so that the Center’s executive director, Jenny Birnie, who has led the charge for the expanded facility, can enjoy a show as the ED before leaving for her new job at the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation on September 1. What if an angel donor stepped up and agreed to pay the current bills of the construction costs based on future pledges with no interest? It would probably make the general contractor and his subs sleep a little easier and take some stress out of a certainly stressful situation with a lot of moving parts. What if the angel actually bought the big lot across the street for Center parking? Whoa. The bottom line is the new theater looks pretty cool inside and will be top-notch when all is said and done.

What if the increasing conflicts between private property owners, public land agencies and the growing number of recreationists could be amicably settled and just disappear? Disappear like the new canal bridge at Strand Hill did this week or the gate at its former location on the Green Lake Road (which was apparently simply moved up to a new location). Poof. The gate issue on Green Lake Road above Lake Irwin continues to rub people on both sides the wrong way. Understandable. Not surprisingly, conflicts grew as it got busier and busier around here. It used to be pretty secluded up there but not anymore, as recreation has exploded and people want to hike and bike and drive to Green Lake or Ruby Mountain. Hopefully a permanent solution can be found that lets the public use that road to access their public lands while respecting the concerns raised by the property owner. Then there is the Strand Hill conflict. Again, a private property owner had an issue with a new bridge erected over the canal and took it upon himself to remove it this week. As I understand it, the property owner, who is the only user of water in the canal, viewed the bridge and the new trail accessing the bridge as a threat to his livelihood and to the canal’s continued operation. It’s another example of conflict between old ranching/mining Crested Butte and growing recreation Crested Butte as it gets busier in these parts. Arrangements are being made to get the bridge back to the Forest Service and hopefully the two sides can reach an agreement that satisfies both sides in terms of placement, impact mitigation and understanding.

What if the Crested Butte Town Council seriously considered the idea of selling the Old Rock to the library board? I know the council likes the idea of owning that cool building but if the ultimate goal is to have it used as a library in perpetuity, isn’t that more important than ownership? Of course it should only be done if the library tax passes this fall so that it is owned by a public entity with a solid income stream. The town’s rent requests have not been unreasonable but this lease-purchase idea could be even better for everyone down the road. If council holds on to Old Rock out of pride, and in the future the library board decides say, Crested Butte South is a better spot for a north valley location, is the town going to put more offices in Old Rock? Is that a good ultimate outcome? I just think there is opportunity for a long-range win-win.

What if your spouse is one of the lucky eaters to score one of the 50 Olive Garden Lifetime Pasta Passes? What would his or her new nickname be? The chain will be selling them on August 15 for $500 and the people who win them will have unlimited pasta, soup or salad and breadsticks—for their entire life. Of course, they may not live that long if that’s all they eat and the width of the grave might have to increase but that’s just part of the price you pay for unlimited pasta for life. Olive Garden is also selling 24,000 Pasta Passes at the same time that allow pass holders nine weeks of unlimited access to the Never Ending Pasta Bowl from September 24 through November 25. How fortuitous that it runs out just before Thanksgiving. Burppppp.

What if summer stayed here until November 20, a week before Crested Butte Mountain Resort opens and then it dumped feet of snow and the packers and patrol hit it all perfectly and the Headwall opened on Day 1 of the season and…

What if the people associated with any of these “what ifs” agreed they made at least a little sense worth thinking about instead of getting upset by the suggestions? That’s not likely.

Anyway, enjoy the start of the locals’ summer and take advantage of it, no matter how long it lasts, because it is always good while it is here.

—Mark Reaman

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