Workforce Housing Survey Results

Dear Editor:

Below are the results of the recent workforce housing location text survey. —18 percent preferred to live in Gunnison on either the 61 acres or 321 acres where their community has been established and affordable shopping and restaurants are available. —55 percent preferred to live on the property behind Crested Butte school because it is closest to the Crested Butte community. —18 percent preferred to live on the 71 acres a half-mile from Crested Butte on Hwy. 135. —9 percent preferred to live on the 17 acres (actually 13.3 acres) at Brush Creek two miles from Crested Butte. The overwhelming favorite location in the north end of the valley is number 2 behind Crested Butte school, but Mark Reaman said in his editorial that it was in high quality wetlands and the primary snow storage spot. This is partly true. I realized when I suggested this 175 acres that it was partly wetlands and partly being used for snow storage, but after walking out on a large portion of the land behind the school, the ground is mostly very firm and dry. The Colorado Wetland Information Center indicated that any mapping that they have for wetlands was done from aerial photographs in 1980 and is not to be considered as accurate. This map shows that everything east of Eigth Street, which includes all of Ninth Street, to be wetlands. A lot of homes have been built in this area. They said the only way to determine if a piece of property is wetland would be to have an expert do an evaluation. Has anyone with proper qualifications inspected this property to see how much of it could be used for school expansion or workforce Housing? Mark Reaman also said that the 71 acres a half mile from Crested Butte on Hwy. 135 was in an avalanche zone. This property runs up the side of Gibson’s Ridge and that part is in an avalanche zone, but much of the property is in the wooded area next to Hwy 135. There is a county garage on the property that joins the 71 acres and is fairly close to the base of the ridge. The garage appears to have been there for many years and there doesn’t seem to be any avalanche damage. Here again it would take an expert to make the determination if this property is suitable for building workforce housing on it. If it is in a marginal avalanche area, mitigation could possibly be constructed to make this area safe for workforce housing. I feel that Mark’s statements are partly true, but not totally. Workforce Housing in Gunnison is definitely needed and 18 percent of those surveyed would like to live there. There is plenty of land owned by either the city of Gunnison, Gunnison County or the Gunnison County commissioners. In last week’s Gunnison Country Times, staff writer Chris Rourke said, “the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority has decided to ask voters for a property tax increase this November which would fund workforce housing projects in the valley.” Seriously, is this the only solution that they can come up with? Is the only way to solve a problem to raise taxes? There is plenty of property owned by the municipalities. They could use available property along with tax incentives to entice a developer to build and manage workforce housing. There were several developers that were willing to purchase the Brush Creek property and build workforce housing on it. I would think some of those developers would be willing to do the same in Gunnison. Or possibly one developer would be willing to build projects in two different locations. The problem with the Brush Creek property is the density of the housing and the proximity to water and sewer as well as over-stressing the volunteer fire department and the Crested Butte school. The water and sewer problems are easily solved by locating the project closer to Crested Butte where those in need of housing want to live. Pressure is also taken off the fire department and school by having a second workforce project in Gunnison. If you think about it, this is a better solution than building a one-size-fits-all project on Brush Creek. It was just discovered that the Brush Creek property is only 13.3 acres, not 17, so the housing density is even more concentrated.

Gordon Moore, Gunnison County