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Mothers against big box

Carbondale residents will circulate a petition to put the Crystal River Marketplace approval to a vote of the people.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees approved the 252,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace by a 5-2 vote Tuesday night.

The group, called Town Mothers, needs approximately 150 signatures on the petition. That shouldn’t be hard to get, according to group founder Laurie Loeb.



“We should have the signatures collected in a short amount of time,” Loeb said. “We plan to start Feb. 26.”

Carbondale Town Clerk Suzanne Cerise said if Town Mothers get the necessary signatures, the special election would most likely occur in mid-July.



Loeb said her group opposes the Marketplace for a variety of reasons.

“The size and scale disregards the character of the town,” Loeb said. “It’s not harmonious with the town.”

Huster wants to build Crystal River Marketplace on 25 acres on the west side of Highway 133 between Main Street and Colorado Rocky Mountain School. The final plat the trustees approved Tuesday night includes a 130,000-square-foot space for an anchor tenant such as Target.

Target has confirmed it is considering Crystal River Marketplace and Glenwood Meadows in Glenwood Springs as a location for a new store, but has indicated it won’t build in both towns.

Eric Gross, spokesman for Crystal River Marketplace developer Brian Huster, was not available for comment.

Loeb said her group also objects to the Marketplace because the town plans to spend $10 million on Highway 133 improvements. Huster would contribute $2.8 million, and bulk of the town’s contribution would come from expected sales tax revenues at the Marketplace.

“That money may not materialize,” Loeb said.

Through the two-year-long Crystal River Marketplace review process, opponents consistently said Carbondale needs small, mom-and-pop retail stores, not big-box retailers like Target.

“We don’t see a need to bring in the same stores that are pasted across the country,” Loeb said.

Crystal River Marketplace supporters have said Carbondale needs the sales tax revenues the shopping center is expected to produce.

“Putting all our eggs in one basket doesn’t seem very healthy,” Loeb argued.

Rather than the proposed shopping center, Loeb said the town could benefit economically through a revitalized downtown, a medical facility that a real estate broker has been pitching to potential tenants, and alternative commercial projects.

“We’d like to see revenues spread around,” she said. “There should be more diversity.”

Loeb has lived in Carbondale for 38 years, and is a former town trustee and co-founder of the Mountain Fair.

Loeb admits she has been “laying low” the past few years, but said, “I couldn’t keep my mouth shut this time.”

Loeb said her group, which has about 12 core members, is called Town Mothers because the Crystal River Marketplace decision should be made from the heart, not the head.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com


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