Unsettled weather, offseason and no shortage of issues…

Pretty much anyone who goes on spring break keeps an eye on the CB weather to make sure they made the right decision. The more unsettled the weather the better they feel while they’re at the beach or the desert. The premier spring and summer days in the upper valley can be so spectacular that no one wants to lose one, even while in other good places. And there’s usually a little gloating satisfaction in knowing those that remained are watching 32-degree sleet fall from the sky while you are looking up at palm trees.

It appears that at least the first part of this current CBCS spring break will be unsettled. As people pack up, the forecast calls for snow and chilly temps through the coming weekend. Things improve after that — and as one of those staying here, I am grateful for that improvement. Personally, I love spring break in Crested Butte when the students take off. It’s even quieter in town than after the ski area closes. The energy mellows, the streets empty and the slow, small town life really comes into focus. It’s the time to reconnect and take a breath.

Still it is offseason and just like the weather, there are some unsettled issues going on that will be here after the locals return with full-body sunburns…

—CB town council members are hearing a lot of feedback from both sides after last week’s decision to not reopen the RV Dump Station located by the wastewater treatment plant in a growing residential neighborhood. I hope they revisit the decision and seriously consider things like the fact the Gunnison RV Dump will be shut for months this fall so the valley will be completely without an RV dumping option starting in September. Things can’t be the same as last summer but as I stated last week, I believe the 5-2 vote was a poor decision that didn’t contemplate the big picture of backcountry impacts and partner relationships and did not investigate all the tangible ways to mitigate the legitimate concerns of neighbors. Heck, a couple speed bumps on the route to the site would slow down any RV driver who is afraid of the dishes being broken. Someone sent a suggestion to require reservations. Traffic calming being considered for Sopris could also work on Eighth.

The district Forest Ranger indicated potential impact to the local backcountry is real and just closing something that effectively deals with a negative impact from the tourists we invite here is, I feel, shortsighted and unfair. By all means, protect that growing neighborhood but look for ways to be true to the bigger picture. That would mean developing a real regional plan to have another RV dump site in place by next summer and that would probably require a drop by either the Mt. CB Water and San, the East River San off Brush Creek, the CB South wastewater treatment facility off Cement Creek or even placing a holding tank that could be pumped in, say, the Whetstone Industrial Park. Crested Butte is not an island but that decision sure seemed to be made on one. Under parliamentary norms, any of the five that voted for not reopening the site can ask that council relook at the decision and it should be reconsidered as long as efforts to ultimately move it are sincere.

—Having observed a couple of the RE1J school district’s task force meetings where local leaders are reviewing a potential bond issue for this November, I’m struck by the lukewarm citizen enthusiasm being shown for the idea. I too am lukewarm with the proposal on the table. The consultants seem enthused and started with a $98 million property tax proposal. After the first meeting where the task force members emphasized the need to focus on “needs” versus “wants” the consultants came back with an $89.6 million plan. That seemed a, how can I say it tactfully — lame attempt at giving participants no choice but to go with the slightly more costly Plan A. A real Plan B would address the priority need agreed upon by everyone in the group to remedy capacity issues at the Crested Butte Community School and price out building renovations to improve safety at the entrances of every school in the district. I’d guess that would come in at about half the estimate of Plan A. The task force members are doing a good job in honestly vetting the bond issue ideas so a reasonable “Ask” might yet emerge from the process but there’s a long way to go. For the north valley, and entire district really, addressing solid growth projections at CBCS beyond eight more years is imperative (can you say Corner at Brush Creek parcel?) if you sincerely don’t want to be asking voters for another tax increase sooner than later.

—Safety concerns of the so-called Elk Avenue parklets were brought up when the town council decided to try another one-way configuration this summer. While the expensive patios had a guardrail included, a rope is what delineates the parklets. Apparently more than once last summer, little kids wandered or ran into the street. Perhaps town could require businesses using the parklets to include some sort of low solid barrier, say a simple garden fence, that would deter young, energetic kids from running after the napkin or the French fry thrown by a sibling that ends up in the main street.

—There is so much stuff going on in the Crested Butte planning department right now that it is easy for some things to get missed. One of many things to be aware of is that the town is gathering input on a formal parking management plan. A draft of such a plan will be discussed at meetings on both April 28 and May 3. Now, when you hear “parking management” you can bet that will usually mean it includes some sort of (eventual) paid parking, neighborhood parking permits or increased enforcement of all things parking. Keep an eye on where that one is going and go to the town’s website for more info.

—Of course there’s more hanging out there with things like the WCU president’s clumsy interview on Fox News, affordable housing crunches, skyrocketing property valuations, billionaire land acquisitions, etc…

Embracing a real off-season might be really important this year after an unexpectedly busy year (February lodging numbers were up a whopping 47-percent!) combined with a pandemic that put everyone on edge — and the fact that every indication is the coming summer will be bonkers. We all anticipate a crowded backcountry, busy trailheads, lots of traffic and lines at the restaurants. But that is not the case at the moment. So really appreciate the mud, the quiet, the 32-degree sleet, the opportunity to breathe and reconnect with friends and neighbors.

Off-seasons don’t last as long as they used to so these moments are increasingly important. There is always time to talk about RV dumps and parking and those discussions are important. But remember to enjoy the moment and this moment is special… despite the unsettled weather.

—Mark Reaman

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