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As a Carbondale resident, I love my town and its laid-back, bohemian character, and would never want our town to do anything which would threaten it. Nothing in the plan for the Village at Crystal River would do anything but improve the quality of life for the people of Carbondale.

Yes, the PIF, a common method of financing the infrastructure associated with development nationwide, will add 1 percent to the cost of purchases at the VCR.

A senior citizen will pay $1 extra for every $100 they spend. This hardly seems a squeeze on the citizens of Carbondale when, in return, citizens of Carbondale will get a new, larger grocery store and additional retailers and businesses, which will increase sales tax revenue. They will also save substantial money on gas driving to and from El Jebel to get the many items not carried at the current Carbondale City Market.



I have yet to see any criticism acknowledge the biggest benefit to the town by this project or any other new development project, which is that new development almost always acts as a catalyst for new development and redevelopment surrounding the new project.

While Carbondale is a charming and pretty town, Highway 133 detracts from both its charm and beauty. It is an eyesore, with its ramshackle, antiquated strip centers, mini storage facilities, vacant developments and exposed electrical power lines.



The VCR will certainly act as a catalyst for new, more attractive redevelopment of existing retail and office spaces along 133. Many of the plans for this are already in place or being put in place, as well as the substantial road improvements to be provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the town.

In addition, there will likely be an expansion of Art aRound Town public art program from downtown through and along 133. Over a period of years, we will see many of these unattractive buildings redeveloped into new, more desirable developments.

The VCR will not alter our town’s character. It will just make Highway 133 substantially more attractive and provide an appropriate entry to our great town, while increasing the goods and services available to our community.

Brad Sherman

Carbondale

The developers of the VCR make it seem so simple, everybody says “yes.”

Except it’s not entirely true. If it’s such a desirable development then why has it taken many years to get it through the system? Why is there so much push back from the local population? If it’s such a great idea why does the developer require the people of Carbondale to help pay for it? The PIF is just a way to make us pay for his development.

Funny how people of his ilk constantly degrade anyone taking from the public coffers for private uses. But this is different? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Bottom line: It’s not right for Carbondale. It’s too big. There’s nothing special about it at all, it’s just another ugly strip mall with no character.

Just say no.

Mark Burrows

Carbondale

We have read many comments concerning the vote on the VCR project. As co-owners of the existing City Market Center, I feel compelled to respond.

Without question, Carbondale should promote productive uses of its available land. Planning and zoning tracts of land is well within the purview of the town trustees. The only reason citizens are being asked to vote is because they are being asked to subsidize the project.

After reviewing the issues, I find no compelling reason for a town of 5,500 citizens to provide taxpayer-funded assistance for the benefit of the developer and Kroger Inc., owner of City Market.

Taxpayers should only be required to fund public improvements when a great public need is defined and cannot be met by other sources, i.e., the developer or the state, which has maintenance responsibility for Highway 133.

The developer of VCR should have the funds available to develop a commercially sound project. If the project is not commercially viable without taxpayer subsidy, perhaps this is not the highest and best use of the property. It is the developer who should bear the risks and rewards of the development.

Likewise, the economic burden of increased rents should be borne by Kroger, a public company. If the developer charges higher rents, because the taxpayers are not subsidizing the costs of the project, Kroger may choose whether moving to VCR or possibly remodeling its existing location is the best economic decision.

Should the economics of the current project allow for the developer to build a grocery store, including all required infrastructure, and Kroger agrees to pay rent in an amount that induces the developer to proceed, we can take pride in the economic activity that this private transaction brings to Carbondale. However, if the citizens subsidize this transaction, rest assured that all new development will expect like subsidies for their projects.

We need to responsibly zone our property to encourage growth and economic prosperity for our town. The citizens of Carbondale should not subsidize the developer, the state or provide an indirect rent subsidy to Kroger.

Neill Taylor and Greg Owings

Carbondale

The process of making an informed decision requires weighing the pros and cons. The current decision that is in the hands of the Carbondale community requires us to engage in this process.

We can all agree that the Village at Crystal River is not a perfect project. However, it is the best opportunity for Carbondale and for its residents.

I have heard the opposition state that Carbondale deserves better, and it does. Carbondale deserves a better grocery store, a medical facility and more retail options. Carbondale citizens deserve to have their basic needs met in this community, and to save time and money by not having to drive to Glenwood and El Jebel all the time. Carbondale deserves an improved Highway 133, and if that means contributing and taking responsibility, then it is worth the sacrifice.

When I hear people up in arms about the 1 percent PIF tax I would ask them to put it into perspective. No one wants additional taxes, we can all agree on that. However, one penny to every dollar is a minimal tax, and this will jump-start additional improvements to Highway 133.

It’s time for Carbondale to take responsibility for itself, and to initiate improvements to the town. It is unrealistic to have a “no” attitude to any type of change in this community, and to suggest a beer garden go into a very valuable parcel of commercially zoned property.

It is not realistic to ask that all energies and resources go into developing the downtown core, particularity when only around 15 percent of our town’s sales tax revenues are generated in downtown, while the remaining 85 percent are generated on Highway 133.

It is not realistic to claim that no one will eat or shop in our beautiful downtown restaurants and boutiques if we have VCR. What is important and on the table is to invest in the needs of the community and the future of Carbondale.

Vote “yes.”

Frank and Rosie McSwain

Carbondale

By now we all know that 76 cents of every dollar is not leaving Carbondale, and the projected revenues for the Village at Crystal River were based on faulty data (if any).

In thinking about yes or no on VCR, I find myself looking to the larger context within which this decision exists.

All those monitoring the state of the planet say it is well past the time we should be pulling out all the stops to bring our planet into balance so life can continue.

I wonder how much suffering we need to endure before we will acknowledge that our every choice decides a future that includes all life on the planet, or life for none.

In the Okonagan tradition, when community decisions are made someone is designated to speak for the land. I wonder what it might say here. With the amount of forward-thinking expertise in this valley, I imagine the land to say, “You know what to do to live in harmony with the land. Listen to your very best thinking and create something that will inspire the world.”

Is that a fancier grocery store with a few green bells and whistles to allay the creeping feeling that we’re selling out future generations so we can have more choices of food trucked and flown in from far too far away? A third of the world lives on less than a dollar a day, and we need “a more complete shopping experience?”

I believe we are capable of better. During the many years of deliberation on this development we have gotten savvier, more clear about our strengths and needs. We are much closer to something future generations will celebrate us for. But we are not there yet.

We don’t have to get pressured into saying yes to this latest iteration of the development just because we’ve been at it for “long enough” and we’re being told no one will want to do business here if we don’t say yes. That is a response from fear and lack – not from our collective brilliance.

Sometimes, like now, no is yes.

Gwen Garcelon

Carbondale

The Village development is the beginning of the redevelopment of the Highway 133 corridor. If this project is approved the first phase of improving Highway 133 will be completed.

This could include a major sculpture in the roundabout. Jim Calaway, a local supporter of many community improvements here and in the valley, was contacted by residents supporting the arts, to approach a world famous sculptor about a piece for Carbondale. Jim followed through, as he always does, contacted the gentleman, and consequently there are tentative plans to raise funds privately to include this in the roundabout if the highway is improved. There is also a landscape plan (trees lining 133) being prepared starting at the bridge and carrying through to Main Street. It’s now or never.

This project is the start of Carbondale being open to serve all its citizens with stores that were identified in the Roadmap report as being desired by the citizens, including the new, expanded grocery store.

The focus on the developer’s projections for dollar sales is a red herring. Neither the town nor its citizens are investing any money in this project. If it fails it is the developer’s company who will lose its investment. The bank or investors who hold the debt for the highway improvements are the ones at risk, not the town or any citizen of Carbondale. We have no investment nor any risk, we are not part of the security. We end up with a portion of 133 improved even if the sales tax to pay off the PIF is never fully realized. The highway improvements have to be in place in three years for the project or lose town approval to build.

The residential units will not be built until there is a market. Only people who have never run a business could be afraid of this issue. Banks are not loaning money to build residential developments. The residential may turn into a Continuing Care Community facility for senior citizens, something of interest to many of Carbondale’s citizens. Basalt, by being open for business, is fast moving towards such a facility. I would suggest with all we have to offer Carbondale is a better location.

Vote YES; let’s continue to make Carbondale a better place to live for everyone as the Roadmap laid out not just for a select portion of the community.

William Lamont

Carbondale

I just loved the front page of the Post Independent on Jan. 10. The mill levy wasn’t passed, so now Garfield Re-2 will cut more of the teachers, aides and schools that our students attend.

Perhaps the perfect solution would be to just close all of Re-2 and bus all the kids to Glenwood Springs.

Administration seems more concerned with the almighty dollar and not with the education of the students. There is an abundance of personnel in the administration office. The computer lab and all the rooms on the lower floor sit empty quite often. When there is a meeting, elegant refreshments appear.

Are these helping our students learn anything? They were quite costly and the money comes out of our stressed budget for Re-2.

Physical education is a required part of the school program and they want to cut the air conditioning for the gymnasiums? Students would become overheated, dehydrated and possibly pass out. Sports are vital to the schools, as we can see from the numbers who attend and cheer. The Bears had a great football season and pride was quite evident in the town of Rifle. Drop sports?

Aren’t libraries where students go to research and learn? Music and art are the chosen fields of a lot of students. Take away their education for their future?

Pre-kindergarten students could be paid for by their parents and should be. There are a lot of preschools around without that being in the curriculum.

Closing Wamsley and Kathryn Senor elementaries is sheer stupidity. Close Graham Mesa, which we didn’t need in the first place. Choose a smaller building to house the administration.

Get real. What happened to the phrases “kids first” or “no child left behind”?

Jan Walker

Rifle

I want to throw my two cents in on the natural gas drilling issue. I just moved here from Fayetteville, Ark., and previously lived in central Arkansas where the hydraulic fracture component of the natural gas industry has become a hot button topic as of late.

There are many downsides to the fracking process, but the abuse of the water supply and possible earthquake effects are probably the ones that concern me the most.

Many of the main drilling sites were shut down in Greenbrier, Ark., near Conway, where I lived, due to a major uptick in earthquake activity. The earthquakes weren’t destructive, but the obvious increase in activity in the exact area where hydraulic fracking was being carried out was an immediate concern.

Citizens and local governments were directly involved in taking action against these operations, which was surprising in such a conservative area as central Arkansas.

David Owen

Glenwood Springs


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