Missing signs spark outrage in Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

Missing signs spark outrage in Carbondale

An already contentious campaign over a proposed big-box retail development in Carbondale got a little nastier Monday when someone stole between 20 and 30 yard signs opposing the project.

The signs were swiped in the late hours of Sunday or early hours of Monday from several yards along Garfield, Third and Euclid streets, according to Laurie Loeb, one of the leaders of a group called the Town Mothers.

The group is opposed to the Crystal River Marketplace, which would add about 255,000 square feet of retail space to town. The plan includes about 125,000 square feet pegged for an anchor tenant like a discount or department store.

With early voting starting Thursday and only two weeks before actual election day, Mayor Michael Hassig said he expects the campaign to heat up even more.

That potential exists today when the Mothers of Carbondale opens its campaign center right across Main Street from the campaign headquarters opened last month by the developer of the Marketplace.

Not even the spirited politics of Aspen have spurred opposing sides in an issue to open up campaign offices.

The Marketplace folks call their office a “Preview Center,” where residents can look at drawings that depict how the project will look, take materials prepared by the developer’s team and get their questions answered.

The Mothers are opening their information office at 319 Main St., which a business called Hair Trix vacated last week.

“We want to make sure people get the full story,” said Loeb.

She said a sign in the storefront window will say, “Other Side of the Street, Other Side of the Story.”

Loeb said the sign in her yard on Garfield Avenue was among those missing. She filed a complaint with the police. She wants charges of trespass and theft investigated.

Loeb contended that the swiped signs are an example of “how petty” some proponents of the Marketplace have become in the debate.

That debate has carried on for years, sometimes bubbling to the forefront and other times settling down. The Town Council approved the project by a 5-2 vote last winter, but citizens collected enough signatures on a petition to force a public vote on whether a subdivision for the project should be allowed.

The town clerk started mailing absentee ballots to registered town voters yesterday. Mailed ballots need to be back in the clerk’s hand, either by mail or by dropping them off at Town Hall, by July 15. Residents can cast over-the-counter votes at Town Hall between July 3 and 11. Polls will also open on July 15.

Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling couldn’t be reached for comment about the missing campaign signs Monday. An officer on duty didn’t return a telephone message.

Hassig said there has been a “dust up” between the opposing sides in the debate over the placement of some signs. Foes of the Marketplace were accused of placing the signs in the public right of way, which isn’t allowed. Yard signs must remain on private property.

Hassig said the Town Council will probably debate policy tonight on whether to have its public works and code enforcement staff check the signs of both sides for compliance or let them all slide.

Hassig said the issue has made for some strange political bedfellows. You cannot assume you know how a person stands on the Marketplace simply by what they do for a living or how long they’ve been in town.

That emphasizes the point of “not speaking too loud at the Pour House,” said Hassig, referring to a popular bar and restaurant in the town. “You never know how the guy sitting next to you at the bar feels.”

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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