How to activate the base zone
[ By Kendra Walker ]
The Town of Mt. Crested Butte is in the process of drafting its master plan, which will provide decision-making guidance for the town’s future planning and direction. In its first phase, the city hosted a series of community engagement events this year to gather feedback from residents, visitors and the community at large, including a recent open house. Now headed into phase two which includes design, strategy and planning, the master plan team discussed the comments and drafted plans with city council and the planning commission in a joint working session on October 19.
“What do we really envision for our community, how would we like that to happen and how do we get there? Explained Elena Scott of Norris Design, the group working with the city to develop the master plan.
Stakeholders involved in the master plan process have identified five priorities for Mt. Crested Butte: investing in the base area; increase community housing options, take an active role in responsible growth, maintain the scale and character of Gothic Road; and create a transportation network that promotes increased public transit, cycling and walking.
Scott noted that in discussions with the community throughout the summer and fall, the two main items were housing and improving the base area. The majority of the October 19 discussion focused on the base zone.
“The way the base area functions as the main community center for us is really essential to the functioning of the rest of the community,” Scott said. “We want to start by activating the base zone and having more dynamism there. “
She continued, “We want to try to create a sense of arrival. When do you know you are here? Scott said, citing Elk Avenue as an example for the town of Crested Butte. “People had a hard time figuring it out here. How can we develop some of this community potential, this potential for restoration and create better east / west connections? “
The general feedback from the current base area is that it is difficult to navigate. “There’s no natural thread running through the space or the visual sight of where you’re trying to reach,” said Tori Aidala of Norris Design. “We have built a fortress around our city center.
“It lacks east / west connectivity to cross the base area,” Scott said. “We have big structures, and some are getting old, and some are in the wrong place.” She also noted that conversations about the master plan with the community and stakeholders have raised issues of circulation, delivery and operations.
One idea presented in the project was to create an arrival plaza where the Emmons building and the Treasury Center are currently located, stretching from Gothic Road to the ski lifts. The plaza could have delivery loading and unloading at a lower level than Gothic Road, with stairs or escalators leading to an upper level of the plaza for people heading to the base.
“It would both engage Gothic and lead people to heart,” Scott said. “Right now when you go down or up Gothic, everything is pushed up on the road. There is no descent and ascent in the mountain and in space.
City Council Member Dwayne Lehnertz noted that a similar key arrival point and parking area could be made from Snowmass Road, where the Axtel and Whetstone buildings and parking are located.
Lauren Koelliker expressed concern that this plaza concept was not connected to the current transit hub or parking areas, and would only capture people using the recreation trail. “Very few people would go there. Most people get off the bus or come from the parking lots. We really have to think about where people are coming from. “
“How will people’s role models change with the change we are creating?” Scott noted.
Many existing buildings were missing from the master plan rendering example, including the Emmons Building, the Treasury Center, and the property that included the Brown Lab, CB Burger Co, Action Adventures, and the Crested Butte Club. City Manager Isa Reeb noted that the base area and landowners have been included in the master plan conversations.
“We want to think about moving, not about moving,” Reeb said. “Every time you see a building disappear, we can put a better building in its place. And replace them in a way more conducive to the creation of places and the sense of arrival.
“What was the initial reaction of these land and property owners at these meetings when you say, ‘We have a vision for the base area and that includes your buildings that don’t exist,'” the board member said. Roman Kolodziej. “What incentive is there for someone to abandon their building or sell it to someone? “
“None of them were surprised when I spoke to them individually,” Reeb said.
“They weren’t shocked but they were really intrigued,” Aidala said.
“It’s about not looking at property lines,” Reeb said. “I think it can happen in different ways. It is also possible that someone will say that I don’t want this property… it will be cheaper for me to give it away and take the tax deduction than to demonstrate it and add something new to it.
“You play with other people’s investments with these ideas,” said Sara Morgan, a member of the planning committee.
“They’re at the table talking to us,” Reeb said.
“We have buildings that are 40 years old,” said Lisa Lenander, a member of the town planning committee. “We have to consider that these are going to start to be withdrawn.”
“What if this plan is accepted and one of these key players doesn’t want to play ball and the Emmons building ends up staying there and you have all this open space and no hallway to view?” ? How to overcome these different obstacles and adapt? Kolodziej asked.
“We can create direction in what we’re trying to accomplish,” Scott explained. “Could a different proposal be presented, but it meets all of these objectives?” ” she said. “Can we achieve the same types of goals with a different plan? May be.”
“I 100% guarantee that the footprints you see today will not be built,” Reeb said. “Never in the history of master planning has this happened.
“I don’t know where these assumptions are coming from, people don’t know where the mountain is,” Morgan said. “I think by the time you hit CB South you know where the mountain is… I question any need to open up this great visual space.”
“Our public outreach was extremely consistent because no one knew how to find the elevators,” Reeb said. The city is currently working on a guidance initiative to put in place more consistent signage around the city. The guidance and master plan entrepreneurs also collaborate and compare community feedback. “For foreigners it’s really confusing for people and knowing where to park, where to walk after parking, to get to the ski lifts… There is definitely a challenge from an outside perspective,” said Reeb.
“It comes down to the fact that we are trying to create an active and dynamic space and create a space for it to be successful,” Scott said. “We don’t have that in the current space for restaurants and retail to be successful. “
Lehnertz argued for a large lodge, or a space similar to the old Rafters restaurant. “A place where everyone will show up and put on their ski boots. The central anchoring center where everything flows to and from this area. This is what is missing. No one knows where to go because there is nowhere to go.
Nancy Grindlay, member of the town planning commission, liked the idea of a square opening up the base area. “I’m concerned about the feasibility of how this will evolve, especially since we haven’t had any input from Vail on what they want to do about the Cinnamon building. A large lodge would be really wonderful for a cafeteria, lockers and a place to relax.
The master plan team is taking into consideration the comments of the council and the planning commission, and the next joint working session is tentatively scheduled for January. The goal is to have a final master plan ready by the end of February.