Brush Creek proposal very much a political issue for everyone

To the Editor:

Crested Butte will have its local election this November. Mt. Crested Butte will have its election in April. The Gunnison County Commissioner election will be held in the fall of 2018. The Brush Creek Road and Highway 135 development proposal should be the central issue in these elections. Further, if the issue is not settled by the time succeeding elections take place in future years, that proposal should still be prioritized. In the almost 50 years in which I’ve been involved in the community, there are few proposals that seem so foolish and damaging to the character of the Northern Gunnison Valley. I won’t go into specifics about the whys and wherefores because they have been addressed adequately by earlier letter writers in the past two months. Employee housing is essential and must be addressed. Although there are many options, I think the best ones would follow the concepts of economic and social integration, geographic dispersion, and building structures that fit into the scale and architecture of the neighborhoods or topography that surrounds them. We don’t need ghettos! Crested Butte owns at least four parcels of land. Some are already designated for “‘affordable housing.” Others are not, but can be re-zoned if the political will exists. Avalanche Park, for example, could easily be a site on which a relatively large housing structure could be built. There, it would not be seen from the highway, would be close to schools and workplaces, and could house roughly the same number of people being proposed at the Brush Creek Road intersection. Mt. Crested Butte also owns at least four parcels, some quite large, including those near its town hall, at the base area of the ski area, near the Snodgrass trailhead, and elsewhere. Affordable housing could be built on any of those. The town of Gunnison, I suspect, also owns parcels of land that could be used for affordable housing. Gunnison County also owns land between the towns of Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte, besides the one at the Brush Creek Road/Hwy. 135 intersection. Appropriate, scaled affordable housing for employees can be built on any of those parcels as well. If the Brush Creek proposal was scaled down to include somewhere between 40 and 50 units, that might make sense. Using the same proportion of affordable housing currently proposed for the current development (30 percent), that would allow for 12 to 15 units. Town and county governments benefit from the growth in the area, as do the major employers. They must be a part of the solution to the problems faced by those who work for them. Donating land, or selling it substantially below market value, to developers is something they can do easily, if they have the political will. Hopefully, current and future candidates will agree that we need housing that meets the needs of employees, and electors will elect only those who strongly oppose the current proposal and pledge to find solutions to the issues quickly. One mayoral candidate told me in August, when I said that I thought the current proposal was preposterous and told him why, “Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that!” He reasoned that the town of Crested Butte had gotten a good deal on the land, already owned it, and there would be little cost to the town to develop it. I suspect he might have modified his views subsequently since there has been so much articulated opposition. He is a political animal and, I hope, knows which way the wind is blowing. Only candidates for public office at the local and county level who strongly oppose the ridiculous Brush Creek Road, 240-unit housing development, should be elected. I hope they also support geographically dispersed, socially and economically integrated solutions to the on-going employee housing issue.

Sincerely,

Roger Kahn