Mt. CB approves Chamber agreement but indicates hard look at future funding

Questions about newly proposed stewardship campaign

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

While the Mt. Crested Butte town council approved a 2023 professional services agreement with the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce on January 3, they indicated there are still a lot of questions about what Chamber services they would like to fund in the future. 

Mt. Crested Butte agreed to pay the Chamber $66,100 as per the 2023 professional services agreement, which includes the operations of the Visitor’s Center at Mountaineer Square for 239 days in 2023, operating supplies and support of the Crested Butte Visitor’s Center when the Mt. CB Visitor’s Center is closed. The Mt. CB Visitor’s Center will be closed when the CBMR lifts are not running for summer or winter operations, except for being open on weekends in September and the first week of October to accommodate leaf peeper traffic. 

The Chamber has also proposed a new stewardship and sustainability initiative, requesting $21,625 from Mt. Crested Butte. The campaign aims to push out stewardship and sustainability messaging throughout the towns by incorporating new versions of the John Fellows “COVID Critters.” The Chamber has also requested funding from the town of Crested Butte and will be on that council’s January 17 meeting agenda. Chamber executive director Scott Clarkson also said he is presenting the concept at the January 26 Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) meeting.  

Council member Roman Kolodziej expressed concern that the initiative might be too similar to the sustainability messaging already being implemented by TAPP and the STOR Committee. “Personally, I think there’s a robust conversation that needs to happen with STOR,” he said. “I don’t know how this benefits businesses and supports a business. The Chamber is supposed to support businesses.”

“It seems to me that the Chamber is getting out of their lane,” said council member Dwayne Lehnertz. 

Clarkson explained that the Chamber has two lanes, the visitor’s centers and the businesses. “For the Visitor’s Centers, I feel this is important because it’s an activation of what others are doing but can’t do in that space. And there are other touch points beyond the Visitor’s Center,” he said, explaining how there could be signage at trailheads or in porta potties that are sponsored by a business and advertising how to be responsible in the woods.

 “The town has been pushing the Chamber to rethink how to get out their message,” said mayor Nicholas Kempin. “I was excited to see this stewardship part of it, but imagined it as part of the current budget, a refocus of the existing budget as opposed to an additional ask. The fact that it’s an additional ask has brought up more questions for me.”

He continued, “Our town, the town of Crested Butte and the Chamber are in ongoing talks and working though the Chamber’s direction – more specifically what the funding from the towns supports. This is somewhat a transitional year, there are a lot of questions about what the future of the funding is going to be.”

The council held off making a decision on funding the campaign until they hear additional feedback from town of Crested Butte and STOR once the Chamber meets with those entities. 

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