Little things

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter, especially in the slow season. And what might be little to some can be huge to others. Little things keep the rhythm of life going and set up the big picture to fully blossom…

If you don’t bike or want to hike in high desert dirt, the opening of Hartman Rocks last Monday might not matter much. It is a small thing. But for those of us who appreciate the kingdom that is Hartman’s in the spring, the opening is a big deal. The parking areas will no doubt fill quickly as people from around the valley swarm to one of the best spring and fall playgrounds on the Western Slope. Unlike the trails in Fruita, or increasingly Salida, Hartman’s is one of those places where the parking lots can be full but riders hitting the trails can see hardly anyone. It is vast, it is beautiful and it is a true valley treasure. Thanks to the BLM and Gunnison Trails and everyone else who oversees an important spot in our communal soul.

You can literally see the snow melting this week. While the additional late winter/early spring storms replenished the snowpack, the recent warm days and not quite-cold nights are taking the snowpack down pretty quickly. Walking the dog in the morning, it was just a couple weeks ago when I couldn’t see over the plowed piles. This week, the sage brush is poking up and bare ground is emerging. The river is rising and the deer, the birds, the geese, and the heron are finding their spring rhythms. While a lingering but melting snowpack might be a small thing for the wildlife, it is a huge thing for the two-legged mammals who need to be mentally finished with winter. It might also turn into a big thing as we approach June and peak high water fills or overfills the local creeks and rivers. That is something to be aware of, but we can worry about that later.

During one of several housing discussions at the Crested Butte town council meeting on Monday night, the mention to the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority of the need for a focus on “livability” in its long-term strategic plan seemed a little thing. It’s not. To me, that guidance is huge because it means those in the decision seat understand that affordable workforce housing means more than numbers on a spreadsheet. It means more than cramming another bed in a 250-square-foot apartment to get another federal dollar and attempting to fill every job listed in the classifieds. It means addressing the issue with deliberate effort to build a neighborhood, build a community where people come to live and experience life and not just pocket a paycheck. It means focusing on the humanity and not just the numbers and that can be a good reflection of us as a community for years into the future.

The council also heard a quick staff analysis that town will continue to be restaurant deficient this summer in CB. That is a big thing no matter how it is sliced. New wealthy owners of restaurant properties are working to fix up and bring the spaces up to code while improving the offerings. That is good. But they aren’t there yet despite wishing they were. And that will make it no less frustrating for anyone visiting or living here who wants to have a fun culinary experience on Elk Avenue this summer. As was the case this winter when too often the downtown business core felt like an embarrassing ghost town, the offerings available will be lean but good. Hopefully the stalled-out CB restaurant scene blossoms soon or we would have to wonder why people would bother to come back…

While a lot of the Elk Avenue restaurants aren’t opening anytime soon, word from Katie Macarelli of Natural Grocers is that they’ll be opening a store in Gunnison this fall. She emailed this week that while not able to make any guarantees, the hope is that it will open in early autumn. 

There was little discussion at the Monday council meeting about the Crested Butte Fire Protection District’s county building permit application for its new safety campus, and that was big. That silence was hopefully hugely indicative that the town and fire district were heading in the right direction with their talks to get the fire district hooked up to at least sewer service operated by the town. The proposed safety campus will contain a big fire station and search-and-rescue building right next to the Slate River in front of the CB Cemetery. To the untrained eye, it looks extremely close to wetlands. The idea of basically having a septic system in that spot is antithetical to the community values of the North Valley. No one needs to be worrying about poop leaking into the Slate River when there is a wastewater treatment plant literally a stone’s throw away from the site. The two entities haven’t always walked down the aisle hand-in-hand, but this one seems a no-brainer so the fact there was no major discussion Monday indicates a huge step is hopefully being taken together toward common sense.

It now actually feels like spring is supposed to. The days are warm, the evenings pleasant. Snow is melting and for me, two wheels are replacing the two boards with skins. Little things matter during these slow days and this week there was evidence that there are plenty of small things keeping the rhythm going.

Mark Reaman

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