NO UFO: The big white thing seen floating over Snodgrass recently is actually an identified object and it’s a weather balloon that is part of the atmospheric observatory project being hosted by RMBL. Scientists are currently determining if the tethered balloon works at this altitude and if so, will use it occasionally over the winter to monitor the approach of big storms. Let’s hope they have plenty of such storms to monitor. photo by David Inouye

Rehashing

Maybe it’s time to rehash a few things I’ve touched on before…that way I can spend more time getting out in the late changing colors instead of writing about Critical Race Theory or Biden’s bumbling versus Republican political courage…

For the record, I’m still open to getting together with billionaire Crested Butte commercial landowner Mark Walter about his vision for Crested Butte moving forward. But for some reason, he hasn’t taken up my offer to meet and chat. I feel rejected but am dealing. The idea is to simply give Mark a chance to share a vision with the community he wants to be part of and is by financial investment, helping to lead. Again, every indication is that he is a super nice guy and has been super fair and lenient with managing his properties in CB so it’s not likely to be a contentious conversation. But using the local paper to help communicate a vision that impacts all of us is a good thing in this small town. I’m around and can be reached at 349-0500, ext 109.

I continue to be puzzled why the Mt. Crested Butte town council is not taking the easy steps to make it easy for citizens to participate in their local government through Zoom. The town of Crested Butte has a Star Trek Zoom setup using an “owl” that scans whoever is speaking in the room and every council meeting has significant public participation from people using the 2021 technology. They’ve spent a real amount of money to bring in the Zoomer technology and while Mt. CB is under no obligation to go to the same level, spending what they estimated to be a whopping $7,000 sure seems reasonable and easy. They have the money as their sales tax continues to be above expectation and they just pulled $10,000 from the flush Chamber of Commerce. But staff is prohibiting that council expenditure and council is falling in line. Council is promising to deal with it…next year. Look, Zoom meetings are one of the good things that has emerged from a not-so-good pandemic but Mt. CB seems to have no interest to spend the miniscule money needed or take on the personnel upgrade to bring more citizens into their public discussions. They promise to put it in the budget for 2022 so maybe they’ll be Zooming by next February. I guess that’s better than nothing but still…

One thing I’m still not understanding is the push by some to limit any money raised by the potential housing tax in Crested Butte (if passed by voters in November) to be spent only in the town proper. So often those living in town get all parochial and think they are on an island. They aren’t. And while CB remains the diamond on the North Valley hill, it depends on more than what is within its one square mile.

A lot of the workers employed by CB businesses live throughout the valley. Despite perception by some, residents in nearby subdivisions spend their money and contribute their share to town sales tax. It makes total sense to have Crested Butte actively and financially participate in the affordable housing projects up and down the valley. A worker living in the proposed Whetstone development might likely work in an Elk Avenue business and contribute to fun local events. One doesn’t have to live on Sopris or Maroon to be considered a “local” and getting more people living anywhere in the North Valley is a good thing on so many levels. Heck, if someone wants to live in Gunnison but work in CB to keep the restaurants open an extra day, that too would be a worthwhile expenditure of Crested Butte tax money. We all keep saying it is a regional issue, so let’s act like it.

Of course workforce housing projects—whether the county’s Whetstone proposal, something in the North Village or 61 units in the Sixth and Butte location—don’t come without impacts. So, I’ll again make the point that as the local governments choose to build more housing to complement the building of more free market housing, it should be done with an eye to future mitigation. That means not simply clicking your heels three times to believe that the new people won’t have cars that need parked or the school won’t need more learning space for more kids.

I will again make the suggestion it is worth finding a property to park vehicles for people who don’t use their vehicles all the time. Give them a chance to park in a safe spot where they can access their cars when they need to travel to Denver or head out during a school break. That type of action would take some of the pressure off the limited parking in new developments and the town streets. Consider using the Brush Creek parcel for a satellite school space that includes needed fields, potential day parking on weekends and in the summer, and some housing for school staff or other local workers.

No one seems to want to have the hard conversation on how many more workforce housing units we all want up here to take care of our shortages and keep the North Valley an active and vibrant community filled with year-round residents. There can be a tentative finite number or I guess we can be like Breckenridge and build thousands of such units and keep the growth loop ballooning and never have enough. I’d prefer to take a different path.

There will be no shortage of things to debate in the coming weeks and months. There’s a CB town council election, voters will consider a mill levy increase to pay for a fire district expansion that includes a giant 31,000-square-foot building on Gothic Road, there are rumblings of discontented people trying to organize a recall election against some school board members, some contractors are upset the county lowered the threshold of house sizes to be reviewed more deeply, and on and on…But looking up Kebler Pass from my desk, I think I’ll walk the dogs and take in a really nice looking fall day…

—Mark Reaman

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