Electoral battle over Carbondale development getting into full swing | AspenTimes.com

Electoral battle over Carbondale development getting into full swing

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The electoral battle over the Village at Crystal River development is in full swing.

One public forum has taken place on a local radio station, and there are at least two scheduled for early January.

These events are underscored by a growing online debate about the issues involved.

Already, the two groups leading the charge for and against the Village at Crystal River development, Locals for Smarter Growth and Say YES to Carbondale, each have pages on Facebook where lively remarks about the election issues can be found.

The Say YES group has launched a website, http://www.sayyestocarbondale.com, which highlights the reasons to vote in favor of the mixed-use development.

And an online Google discussion group, largely allied with the opposition, has been engaged for the past couple of weeks in chats, with comments automatically sent out to an email list.

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The town of Carbondale is holding a special mail-ballot election, with ballots due by Jan. 31, asking voters to endorse or reject the Town Board’s approval of the Village at Crystal River development, which the town trustees granted on Nov. 1.

If a formal debate framework exists for this election, it is in the shape of public forums that started Monday with an on-air forum hosted by KDNK, Carbondale’s community-access radio station.

The radio forum featured comments from planning consultant Mark Chain representing Say YES to Carbondale, and from communications consultant Allyn Harvey speaking for Locals for Smarter Growth, a group that opposes the development.

A recording of that forum is now available on the station’s website, http://www.kdnk.org.

More public forums are slated immediately after the holidays.

The marketing firm Promotional Concepts is organizing a forum set for 6 p.m. on Jan. 4 at Carbondale Town Hall, to feature presentations from the two opposing factions, followed by questions from the audience and moderated by professional mediator Tim McFlynn.

Promotional Concepts is the same company that was hired to announce the creation of the pro-Village at Crystal River group, Say YES to Carbondale. But Andrea Waldman, of Promotional Concepts, said the company is not organizing the forum on behalf of the Say YES group.

On the evening of Jan. 5, at the Third Street Center, the Hot House Design Project will host a panel discussion about the design elements of the project. The panel is to include area architects and planners, with time for questions from the audience.

The Village at Crystal River proposal is the latest in a string of development plans for a 24-acre site north of Main Street and west of Highway 133.

In its current form, the approval calls for 125,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by a new 58,000-square-foot City Market grocery store at the north end of the property, 15,000 square feet of office space, as many as 164 residential units and other possible commercial uses, such as a gas station, bank or fast-food restaurant.

Later development phases, depending on market demand, could include a hotel, medical facility, senior care facility, school or light manufacturing.

The deadline to register to vote in the election is Jan. 3, according to the Garfield County Clerk’s Office, which is conducting the election.

Ballots are to be mailed out to voters by Jan. 9.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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