Carbondale is getting citizen input for a new comprehensive plan. The town has a little survey I took that asks multiple guess questions about growth, economic development, transportation, safety, trees and sidewalks.
I hate multiple choice questions, whether they are part of a poll or part of something else. When multiple choice questions are part of a test, that’s a different story. I like that. Multiple choice questions are easy when there is a right answer as one of the choices.
All too often multiple choice questions are crafted to get a specific result. Try this: Do you prefer: A) Posing in the nude; B) Speedos at the Hot Springs Pool; C) Streaking at church assemblies. Note that there is no option for “None of the above.” So, we are forced to pick among choices that we’d never consider in the first place, which is obviously “C.”
So the Carbondale survey asked quite a few questions about things like growth and parking that already were assuming things that should not be assumed. Many of us in Carbondale would like to see a major shift in how we use energy, how we feed our families, how we embrace the automobile, how our actions impact the greater environment and all kind of other radical thoughts.
I heard Gabe Preston, the lead consultant of RPI Consulting in Durango, saying on the radio how special Carbondale is and what a dynamic and forward-thinking community we have.
“You should be proud of this community. It’s a really interesting place. People are really well engaged and their opinions are intelligent. From my perspective having worked all over the West, I’m here to tell you it’s a great place. Don’t take it for granted.”
Excellent observation, Gabe. That’s why this new momentum we have provides us the opportunity to lead when it comes to sustainable growth, energy conservation and creation, creative design and more. There are a lot of people here who don’t fit in with the climate deniers and job creators in the outside world.
We know and understand that this planet is all we have and if we don’t include Mother Earth in the conversation we are doomed to be sneezed off. We don’t all agree on that but I think there are a lot of us here who want to live in harmony with our surroundings rather than just exploiting the surroundings for quick and temporary bucks.
It would be great if the 16-member community committee and the consultants from Durango explored some out-of-the-box ideas. I heard quite a few of these ideas flying around during the debate over the Village at Crystal River (VCR). These ideas indicate, contrary to what some say, that the opponents of the VCR would embrace certain kinds of development, just not the same old same old.
Think big. Great towns don’t just wait for developers to propose their projects and then react. Great towns somehow pull off the great ideas.
Glenwood Springs is considering options to replace the outdated Grand Avenue Bridge. Glenwood Post Independent columnist Hal Sundin left CDOT’s presentation of various options unimpressed and said in a recent edition of the paper that the options presented considered what CDOT wants but not what the residents of Glenwood Springs want.
Which of these bad choices would you prefer?
Whatever comes of that project, it probably won’t be radical enough to transform the potentially fantastic downtown Glenwood Springs which right now has a state highway as Main Street, just like Aspen. As long as all of that traffic is cleaving the heart of a town, the experience of being on that Main Street is unhealthy and compromised.
In Carbondale, our Main Street is a shortcut for people driving off Highway 82 and into town via Catherine Store Road. The steady stream of diesels, SUVs, cars and trucks can really sully the air, and the experience of breathing and being on Main Street. The many stop signs exacerbate the problem as drivers stomp on the gas pedal in a hurry to get to the next stop sign.
The comprehensive planners should conduct their next meeting at 4th and Main at 5 p.m. on any given weekday. Take a walk down Main Street in Glenwood Springs and Main Street in Aspen and see where a town ends up when a highway runs through it. Carbondale could and should change that now.
Steve Skinner likes shortcuts. Reach him at email@example.com.