Sorting out all of the options
Dear Editor:There have been several letters in the press recently questioning why the Carbondale Board of Trustees would be considering an Option 3 for the proposed Crystal River Market Place. Those letters have included several assumptions that I think are wrong. The people writing these letters have asserted that the town has already made a decision to deny a large format retailer such as Home Depot based on a vote taken three years ago. This is simply NOT TRUE. The citizens voted down a referendum for a specific proposal that included space for a large format retailer. This proposal had a number of problems that prompted many people to vote against it. Even so, it was a relatively close vote – 57 percent to 43 percent. Anyone who thinks it was a referendum on the broader question of building size need only look at the results of the last Trustee election. A key issue of that election was support for the Economic Roadmap Group’s proposal for a hard cap of 60,000 square feet for retail buildings. The candidates that supported a “soft” cap, or no cap, received over three times as many votes as those that supported the hard cap. Clearly the residents of Carbondale have not dismissed the possibility of having a large format retailer in the town.The current Option 1 proposal recommended by the Road Map Group includes space for 3 “junior” anchors allowing a building size of up to 30,000 square feet each. The junior anchors are situated side by side and share common walls. In essence there would be one, 90,000 square-foot building – the same size is a single large format retail store being proposed in Option 3. The bottom line is that Option 3 is not materially different than Option 1.The people that oppose evaluating Option 3 also claim that the town’s finances are in great shape, and there is no need for us to be concerned with the revenue generation capacity of the development proposals. This seemed like a reasonable assumption until a few weeks ago when we were surprised with the need for a major water treatment plant upgrade. This will cost the town $9-12 million. Since there was no credible capital reserve study done as part of the roadmap process, we don’t know what our future revenue requirements truly are. There are also many people that feel the budget recommendations made by the Road Map Group may not be enough. How many more surprises lurk out there? It is our Trustees’ fiduciary responsibility to all citizens of the town to evaluate all options for the Market Place property, including Option 3.Tom FisherCarbondale
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