Carbondale in need of responsible development
I disagree with Lynn Kirchener’s request that the entire 81623 ZIP code vote on Carbondale’s Village at Crystal River. Most of El Jebel is 81623, and no one asked for my vote on Willits, which is more El Jebel than Basalt and arguably the ugliest stretch of land in the valley.
Rick Stevens says Carbondale needs to be open for business. I fully agree. But Rick presided over the beginning of the Aspenization of Basalt and initiated successes such as the recent $178,000 windfall by annexing land far from Basalt’s core. That income has basically been outsourced from a highway corridor in Basalt’s vicinity – like too many construction, retail and grocery jobs at Willits and Orchard Plaza have been outsourced to non-Americans.
Now Whole Foods says it will create 100 jobs. When too many American-born citizens struggle to find work and are asked too often if they speak Spanish when applying for a job, what the hell are Basalt, Eagle County and Colorado officials – and Whole Foods – doing to make sure American citizens are given priority for these jobs?
Carbondale needs a viable development on property zoned for commercial. Many of those saying the town needs to buy it to raise crops have good intentions, but they frankly should cut down on visits to their “medicinal” providers. Where’s the town going to get the money for that property – pot shops?! There’s plenty of rural land nearby for farming, but we need a commercial development there, or we’ll go broke. That development needs an anchor fitting our character such as a building/home-improvement business – not a new location for City Market – because:
• We’ll lose business to El Jebel even if our City Market moves because Whole Foods offers unique items, and we’ll keep much grocery business here because some people still won’t drive to El Jebel or – like myself – hate shopping in huge, impersonal supercenter-style grocery stores.
• Carbondale can potentially generate much more sales tax if we have a building supply or other anchor there and City Market stays put.
• The performance improvement fee – if it stays – would be on nonessential items.
•The current City Market space would not become vacant. If vacated, it would remain vacant for a long time because of its size, creating many problems.
We need balance – to maximize benefits and minimize negative impacts. We need sales tax and jobs, but elected officials must make sure any development will actually increase sales tax and create – not move – jobs for American citizens. If leaders decide to build without making sure these objectives are achieved, then they are building for the wrong reasons, and they don’t deserve to lead anymore.
While new restaurants enter the Aspen scene, there are several spaces that will remain empty this winter. Meanwhile, the retail market remains extremely hot.