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Carbondale should put its creativity to work

Post Independent Opinion
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

A town divided.

The Village at Crystal River development proposal was rejected Tuesday by Carbondale voters by nearly 2-1.

This election seemed to polarize the town far more than picking a candidate or approving a mill levy. The campaigns for and against VCR showed that residents have differing views of what it means to be a Carbondalian.



In what might be considered a very “Carbondale” thing to do, on Thursday night there was an interfaith reconciliation held to bring the community back together through sharing words and cookies.

Event organizer Oni Butterfly said that part of the goal was “to move forward together creatively.”



We wholeheartedly agree with that idea.

The Locals for Smarter Growth group often denigrated the strip mall concept, saying that Carbondale is better than that.

What would be a challenge and a testament to the creativity of Carbondalians would be to come up with a viable plan that would actually satisfy, if not all, at least a majority of the voters.

Carbondale has already proven to be creative with development. The Third Street Center is an old school turned into a space that, according to the mission statement, “brings together nonprofit organizations under one roof, leveraging their unique strengths.” It has been a successful project and one Carbondale can be proud of.

As things now stand, a developer might be forgiven if he were leery of working with a group of town residents. For this proposal, developer Rich Schierburg took input from the Economic Road Map Group, which comprised a diverse membership of Carbondale residents, including people who ended up on opposite sides in the VCR election. Yet his plan was rejected.

VCR supporter John Baker asked, “What developer in his right mind is going to want to come to Carbondale and go through a process like that?”

Good question.

It might be productive if the land ended up in local hands, a person or group that conceivably understands Carbondale better than a developer from the Front Range.

But there’s no way of knowing if that will ever happen, and buying the property, were that an option, would cost millions.

In lieu of that, it would be a remarkable achievement to come up with a plan that would satisfy both a developer and the residents of town, a project that residents would support for reasons going beyond sales tax revenue.

Any bright ideas?


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