Keep Missouri Heights majestic with Ascendigo

Ascendigo works to empower and inspire people with autism. Majestic goals, from an organization that has been headquartered in Carbondale for the past 17 years. By all accounts, Ascendigo is both very well managed and an upstanding not-for-profit “citizen,” that employs approximately 60 people, making it one of the town’s top employers.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ascendigo’s Peter Bell and Dan Richardson, on the proposed Missouri Heights Ranch site, to learn more about the development, and to express concerns regarding water, traffic, noise and fire risks. Peter and Dan systematically walked me through Ascendigo’s plan and impact assessments on each of my concerns. This was truly eyeopening. I concluded that the assessment was thoughtful, intellectually honest and very valuable.

Change is a difficult subject. But many of us who built or bought houses in Missouri Heights, one-by-one, altered the landscape. The proposed Ascendigo Ranch has four advantages compared against the most logical alternative case — the development of the 20 properties currently slated for the site. First, the actual building plans for the facility show a much less intrusive development footprint compared with the alternative of 20 individual houses and related development. Second, the operational plan for the ranch shows that the traffic, fire risk and water-use impacts are favorable, in some areas, significantly more favorable, than the alternative. This assessment was done using worst-case impacts during the peak summer occupation. Third, the proposal involves Ascendigo, a local organization with very strong leadership and a proven track record in our community. Fourth, the proposal involves helping our autistic neighbors meet their goals — goals as majestic as Mount Sopris itself.

I belief that the proposed Ascendigo Ranch is the better outcome for the community and this beautiful stretch of land.

Jerry Hjelle

Missouri Heights

Letter to the Editor