Pursuing Marketplace a waste of time
Dear Editor,As much as I love my town I feel it has been behaving like an ostrich with its head in the sand. For all those present at the latest town council hearings for the final plat on the Crystal River Marketplace, we have witnessed our pie-in-the-sky Target development crash and burn. My biggest question is: Why did it take you so long to see it, Carbondale? As a member of Carbondale’s Economic Development Council, we were given a fiscal analysis study back in June of this year. A Denver-based consultant, Ford Frick, painted a rosy picture of Target operating in Carbondale, drawing in as much as its most successful stores nationwide at $400 a square foot.Sounds great everyone said, this will solve all of our sales tax and budget problems and give us a new highway too! A critical review of this fiscal impact study was presented voluntarily by town citizen and consultant Bob Schultz, suggesting we go with a more realistic number of generated sales tax given our limitations to drawing 5,000 Valleywide residents to Carbondale daily. The basis of the report was to say, “Hey, wait a minute, can this big box exist here, can it bring in enough revenue to survive, and will it cost the town more in highway costs than it is worth for the impact it will have?” It presented a more realistic approach of using $245 a square foot to examine the true benefits and impacts. The report was virtually ignored by the town as staff began negotiations with the developer to bring the Emerald City to Carbondale.What arises for me in the dust of this most recent collapse is a very bad joke on Carbondale. At the last two meetings, CRM joked that the possibility of Target coming here was very shaky. Besides coming right out with the truth, they alluded to the impossibility of their entire project.What does this say about us? What does this say about the foresight in this town? We had the numbers in front of us, we saw the highway impasse as far back as March when they refused to compromise on which intersection would be their entrance. The CRM withdrawal of their application after the P&Z hearings was a manipulative attempt to scare the town into making crucial compromises in order not to miss out on this “great opportunity.” As they had hoped, the Town Council voted 4 to 3 to bring them back! The next manipulative maneuver was to push for an election in November to put the development and the bonding for highway improvements on the ballot. They thought under pressure Carbondale would give in and come up with almost all of the money it would cost to fix our highway. CRM has known since the P&Z hearings in March that Carbondale needed CRM’s fair share for the highway of 3.5 million, and they have made no attempt to clue us in to their inflexibility toward this request until now, six months later! The final insult is that they expect Carbondale to foot almost the entire bill for Highway 133 improvements minus the $600,000 they will throw in, and the other 2 million that will be bonded out with 20 year interest (which is a nice way of saying the consumers will pay for it through a tax). Which brings me to the obvious question: Why are we still taking to these guys? What are we hoping they will bring to the table next when they haven’t budged and inch since March?This also begs the biggest question of all which is: What has gone wrong that our town should fall for such a shenanigan? At one level the last three Town Council meetings have shown incredible leadership on the part of our trustees not to give into the CRM manipulation. I am so impressed and honored to see such a critical analysis by most of the trustees. On the other hand, if we had not fallen for the silver bullet approach to Carbondale’s future, we would have had a level head about the Target proposal in the first place. It’s out of scale for our town! The revenue we will receive from it does not merit such a large impact on our community. A Town Center I can see, a 60-thousand-square-foot box I can see, but a mall that draws from Aspen to Silt strikes me as, putting it mildly, unrealistic. I respect the diligence of all leaders in our town to plow through this process, but I think something is out of balance when our vision could be so off that we are willing to be deluded, manipulated, coerced and procedurally unjust in asking a canceled application to come back to the table. To continue negotiations with CRM at this point is an injustice to the taxpayers of our community. Call a spade a spade and quit wasting precious time and money on chasing a star. Target is not coming to Carbondale, the developers nearly said it themselves; and nothing else in the world could merit a 125-thousand-square-foot box in our town. Let’s go back to the start with a vision that fits our community. We have learned a lot and most of all we have learned we have to create our town’s future, it’s not just going to come in with a corporate logo and save us all. And as Mountain Folks have been saying for over 2 years, often times the corporate vision takes more from a community than it gives. Thanks again for all the great people who have worked so hard on this.Wendy AndersonCarbondale
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