Merriott column: David Allan Coe’s ‘enough is enough!’ could apply to rampant growth

Frosty Merriott

A lot of you probably know who I am referring to? None other than David Allan Coe of Texas Outlaw music fame. Steve Goodman, you may remember, claimed to have written the perfect country and western song. David Allan disputed this, saying it wasn’t the perfect country song because “it didn’t say anything about trains, prison, momma, pickup trucks or getting drunk.”

Coe then famously added these words: “I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison; and I went to pick her up in the rain, but before I could get there in my pickup truck, she got run over by a damned old train!”

David Allan got more and more out there, finally doing drugs on stage at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, during a performance. He had hired local Hells Angels as his bodyguards so it was no harm, no foul. That’s when a really good friend in amazement coined the phrase, “David Allan, enough is enough!”

My point? I’m glad you asked. It occurred to me the only correlation I can draw to David Allan’s unreasonable behavior is what is going on with development in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Glenwood Springs is spending $36 million on its water delivery system, including $10 million because of the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire. Glenwood then imposed a 36.8% rate increase with nine yearly increases of 5% to cover that work, mostly with Gould Construction.

Now, what do they do for an encore? Annex 480 Donegan; this knowing they don’t have the water or sewer infrastructure in place for more than 300 new residences on this 12-acre open space. So, more spending on infrastructure and probably raising rates again. The last mudslide in Glenwood Canyon caused Glenwood to require its water users not to do any outside watering. What’s next? Tell people they can only flush their toilets on either odd or even days and not on weekends?

Council should be annexing this as open space. Then it could be used for food production in four or five years.

Have we gone totally insane? Has it registered with elected officials (and all ex ones like myself) that we are in a 20-plus-year drought and fast running low/out of water. Unbridled growth when you are depending on finite resources like water is irresponsible. I think I would add clean air to that based on all the cars parked with motors running on Highway 82 every morning and evening.

You know, at some point tourists will just say, “I can sit in a traffic jam on Interstate 70 in Denver. Why do I want to drive three hours and sit on Highway 82 trying to get into Glenwood Springs or Carbondale?” We have had 55 days of unhealthy air in the Valley in the past year.

Head up valley to once small-town-character Carbondale. It resembles a construction zone in Houston. Did you know Carbondale already has enough residences in its 2021-23 pipeline process to handle about 80% of projected growth through 2030? WTH! It’s not even 2022. The disappointing “mountain town City Market” anchors what is now not so affectionately being referred to as Willits 2.0.

Carbondale and Glenwood Springs should realize we really don’t need any more housing in the Valley unless it is affordable for our workforce. Building housing requiring only 20% as deed restricted (affordable) creates more problems than it solves. The model of building 552 units with 60 affordable was a good start 25 years ago in River Valley Ranch. It is not working now and hasn’t worked for years.

Someone please explain that to those who are approving 80% free market housing that is not affordable, that we may not have the water for them and we already can’t handle the traffic. What is the definition of insanity? That’s right, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a difference result.

Maybe there is hope. At least in Glenwood, citizens in opposition to the Donegan 480 annexation have formed Citizens for Sensible Development Group with 630 Facebook followers and have collected signatures on a referendum to force City Council to rescind the approval or put it to a public vote.

Meanwhile, New Castle is salivating over a 200-unit proposal which makes some sense right now if done net zero with an appropriate number of community housing/workforce units and some sort of tiered pricing.

Glenwood and Carbondale, enough is enough! I just want to flush my toilet every day.

Frosty Merriott is a CPA in Carbondale and served 10 years on the Carbondale Board of Trustees. He can be reached at

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