CARBONDALE, Colorado - When it was suggested to Grace Sparhawk that she relocate from Rochester, N.Y. to the Roaring Fork Valley to be closer to her daughter, it wasn't a hard decision, except for the prospect of finding affordable housing.
But one community institution for the past 25 years made it possible for Sparhawk to live near her family, and become an active member of the Carbondale community for the last nine years, even now at age 90.
She found a place to live at Crystal Meadows Senior Housing in Carbondale, which today celebrates the completion of 15 new affordable rental units in the fifth and final phase of development at the 79-unit complex on Hendrick Drive.
"It's an incredibly wonderful place to live," said Sparhawk, who sits on the Carbondale Housing Authority Board and is the resident chaplain for Crystal Meadows.
She is the mother of former Snowmass Village town council member and Snowmass ski instructor Sally Sparhawk. A friend of Sally's was the one who suggested her mom move into Crystal Meadows, "if she doesn't mind the mountains and the snow," Grace Sparhawk recalled.
After spending 45 years in the property management business herself, she said the upkeep at Crystal Meadows is top-notch.
"It's extremely well-run. They do a terrific job," Sparhawk said. "And there's all sorts of fun stuff happening here."
Jerilyn Nieslanik, the manager for Crystal Meadows, said older residents moving in from outside the area to be closer to their children is a growing part of the resident base. But many are longtime local residents who have found a place at Crystal Meadows to be able to stay in Carbondale during their golden years, Nieslanik said.
The 15 new, 540-square-foot, one-bedroom units are the last that will be built on the 4-acre site, where construction of the first set of units began in 1984. To rent one of the units at Crystal Meadows, residents must be age 62 or older, or disabled, and can earn no more than $25,000 per year. Individual rents are adjusted based on income, Nieslanik explained.
All 15 of the new units have residents ready to move in mid-month. Most people are on the waiting list for about three years before a unit becomes available, she said.
"We still have a waiting list of 42, even after filling up the new apartments," Nieslanik said. "We really need more, but we can't build any more on this site. So, we [the housing authority board] haven't really talked about how to accomplish that."
One new development proposal in Carbondale, the Overlook Neighborhood, has proposed senior housing as a possible option on one of its parcels, but only if a proposed hotel turns out to not be feasible. That would be several years down the road if it comes to pass, however.
Construction on the final phase at Crystal Meadows began in March and was completed ahead of schedule, Nieslanik said. The new units were made possible by a federal Housing and Urban Development grant through the Colorado Division of Housing. They will also benefit from a roof-top solar hot water system, through a state grant obtained by the Garfield County New Energy Communities Initiative.
Today's open house will be from 1-3 p.m. at Crystal Meadows, 1250 Hendrick Drive. Sparhawk plans to say a word of prayer before the ribbon cutting, and there will be tours of the new units, plus cake and cookies.