I’m a Carbondale resident who has been unsure about the proposed VCR development. So I read everything I could find, I listened to pro and con arguments from knowledgeable people, and I attended the public forum.
I’ve concluded that it’s a nice looking project. I appreciate the developer working to make it consistent with what the town said it wanted. I think he has a right to develop the property he bought, I’d love to see Highway 133 cleaned up, and I think the project might come close to achieving the developer’s current economic projections.
However, the Public Improvement Fee (PIF) attached to the project adds 1 percent to the cost of necessities at City Market (and other VCR shops) and where else can we really shop? Therein lies the rub.
Personally, I wouldn’t even feel the PIF and neither would my friends who favor the project. “One percent – big deal!” one of them said.
But the lower one’s income, the bigger the percentage one must spend on medication, food and household goods and the less able one is to shop further from home in search of value. For the poor, the PIF is indeed a big deal, and that is why I have decided to vote against the VCR.
That said, nearly 40 percent of Carbondale’s population is Hispanic, a group whose per capita income is less than 60 percent of the town median. (Source: 2009 data from http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Carbondale-Colorado.html)
Thus, many Hispanics will experience an inordinate amount of the PIF’s burden. Yet, this group was not represented on the forum panel, few appeared to be present in the standing-room only audience, and few if any have written on the subject in this newspaper.
Given their substantial stake in the issue, I regret the lack of Hispanic participation in this discussion and hope to see Hispanics expressing their opinion and protecting perceived interests by voting in the impending election.
I lived in Carbondale in the early 1980s and return to visit frequently. Back then, I consulted with Carbondale on solar energy ordinances and affordable housing. I love Carbondale and its preservationist tendencies, so I was shocked to hear about another mall development proposal on the same parcel where a similar proposal was voted down years ago.
This development is wrong for Carbondale and the people of Roaring Fork Valley. Wrong time, in a bad economy. Wrong place, in an environmentally sensitive, flood-prone spot that would move City Market away from walkable downtown.
Wrong funding, using a regressive PIF tax to fund road improvements only required for the private gain of the developer. Tax everyone to pay for private development? Say what?
Taxing groceries is the cruelest way to impose a new tax because everybody eats, but the poor spend a much higher percentage of their income on food.
Carbondale is wonderful because it grows local businesses, co-ops, radio stations, art programs, affordable housing and a marvelous array of educational opportunities.
Why would a smart town like Carbondale vote for a dumb idea like this? Please, my friends who vote in Carbondale, just say “no.”
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