A couple of clouds in a sunny off-season

It is off-season and an opportunity to relax and ponder life. Aside from a quick blast of winter that confirmed we are in mud season, spring break has been pretty fantastic. There’s been good summer biking down valley, fun live music mid-valley and a slower pace to connect around CB and the North Valley. The slowdown does allow time to contemplate things, and a couple of public issues have me thinking they are like rain clouds on a chilly spring morning…  

Random drug testing for students a really bad idea

This one makes my head want to explode even in the mellowness of off-season. I have never been a fan of random drug testing, especially of kids. To me it is an overreach of an authoritarian Big Brother and starts from a foundation of mistrust. Random drug testing begins with the presumption that someone is guilty so they must prove their innocence. To travel down the road of even considering random drug testing of local students who participate in extracurricular activities, as the Gunnison Watershed School District Board is doing, is, in my opinion, awful. 

I understand the desire to keep local kids drug free but having teenagers urinate in a cup to play soccer or volleyball is not the way to accomplish that. As a place of learning, it seems to me adopting such a draconian policy infringing on an American’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure as stated in the U.S. Constitution is a horrible lesson to teach. The lesson conveyed is that it is perfectly okay for kids to be under the thumb of institutional authority or find ways to avoid a negative result (Hmmm, I wonder if local students have ever used Google before?). Alcohol and most drugs (marijuana is an exception) are virtually undetectable unless the student is under the influence at the time the test is administered so some kids experimenting with substances might opt for harder drugs than weed that leave their system quicker. 

Such a policy teaches students that their word is not to be believed. Instead, I am an advocate for implementing a drug-free policy and if a student athlete or thespian is caught consuming drugs or alcohol, there should be consequences. That is life. To randomly drug test 13-year-olds who want to do something positive like play team sports might push some away from the good extracurricular activities that have a lifelong impact on their development. It seems logical that students participating in things like sports or theater are less likely to do drugs because they simply do not have as much free time on their hands. A recent ACLU website post states that a policy that randomly drug tests students involved in extracurricular activities may deter other students from joining these activities and thus give these students more free time in which they might turn to drugs.

Kids will be kids, and no one should doubt there will be some who drink alcohol or smoke some weed while in school. The school cannot stop all that, so to implement a policy of randomly having local children urinate in a cup is just peeing in the wind, so to speak. 

Continued parking angst leaving a bad aftertaste

With most locals not even in town I am still getting stopped by people perplexed and upset by the Crested Butte council’s initiative to reduce the number of parking spaces in town. I get the feeling some on the council are pooh-poohing the backlash they have received from area residents over their direction to restrict 150 parking spaces next winter near Mountain Express bus stops. This has been an issue that has elicited a lot of response, most of it negative, from CB citizens, North Valley residents, second homeowners and some CB business owners. 

To no one’s surprise, I have stated that limiting parking to two hours in the spaces near the Sixth Street Mountain Express bus stops is a bad idea given the messaging and lack of mitigation to help those that it impacts. The town stance is that CB should not be the overflow parking for the ski area business and there is some merit in that argument. Talks have started with CBMR on the issue. 

The town is also pushing the narrative that parking has a horrible impact on some local neighborhoods. Really? Those spots are public parking spaces to be used by the public. If drivers adhere to the legal spots, it is part of the urban experience town offers. It seems to me to really be part of an idealistic goal to implement parking permits everywhere in town to discourage people driving into town. But at this time, there are not the needed park-and-rides or RTA bus numbers that could realistically make that happen. The cars will simply be pushed to other neighborhoods that will then “need” parking permits due to crowding. 

Going all punitive to keep people from easily accessing public transit without providing incentives to help out-of-town drivers makes no sense to me and a lot of others here. And I get the feeling some on council are sticking with a narrow parochial view without thinking about the broader community, so they are dismissing the backlash as almost silly. They’re wrong on this one. 

I’d suggest council not continue forward to implement new signage and ticketing policies with the idea of evaluating it once it’s in place next ski season. Pull back until there are good alternatives—park-and-rides south of town, real spots and easy access to transit at the school, an allowance for locals to park on town streets and catch the Mountain Express while charging CBMR’s visiting customers. I mean, thank goodness we don’t want to become Breckenridge…even though this is implementing Breckenridge-type regulations. Grrrrr.

Off-season has been great with those staying in the valley smiling a bit broader and waving a tad more to one another but that doesn’t mean all the issues disappear, so keep paying attention. And I’d recommend a trip to the Hartman’s singletrack if you need to clear your mind. See you there.

—Mark Reaman

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