As announced by Luis Yllanes, the Public Arts Commission voted to remove Stephen Lock’s deteriorating “Helping Hands” sculpture, located next to the Near New at 3rd and Main since 1991. Photo by Raleigh Burleigh

Update: A sentence was added to specify that Trustee Marty Silverstein voted against appointing Erica Sparhawk and Colin Laird to serve as trustees on the selection committee for a partner on Town Center.

Together, all seven Carbondale Trustees tackled a “mammoth marathon” of an agenda, concluded Ben Bohmfalk by the time it adjourned, slightly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

The item that brought some 10 members of the public into the audience was introduced by Pitkin County Commission Francie Jacober, also representing herself as a 30-year resident of Carbondale and operator of Fatbelly Burgers. “This is my town,” she said.

The issue at hand was Wild and Scenic designation for the Crystal River, “one of the few undammed rivers in the West, let alone Colorado,” Jacober continued.

Jacober urged the board to formally back the designation, as Carbondale did in 2014. A large coalition demonstrating community support could encourage the federal government to protect the river from future dams and diversions while guaranteeing private property and water rights are respected.

“Pitkin County has not been shy at all, it’s no mystery that they are fully behind this,” said Lisa Tasker, member of Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers Citizen Advisory Board. “Carbondale coming on early would send a signal, if you are up for that.”

In the interest of moving things along, public comments were not heard but held for a future meeting in which a resolution would be proposed.

Resident Seth Goddard was notably disgruntled, blurting, “Take action!” before exiting the room.

Moving along, Pollinator Chocolate received unanimous approval for a new liquor license. In addition to a chocolate manufacturing facility between Tortilleria La Roca and Mana Foods, “The Cocoa Club” endeavors to open a cocktail and dessert bar within three months.

The next item of note was formalizing the request for proposals (RFQ) for the Town Center properties, donated late last year. Consultant Bob Schultz presented a draft RFQ that includes nine items for applicants to submit and outlines the assessment criteria as follows: relevant development experience, funding/financing capabilities, development team capabilities and alignment of development interest.

As suggested by Trustee Lani Kitching, a detail was added to the submission requirements for disclosure of other projects in the pipeline within town limits to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, Trustee Erica Sparhawk asked to specify the town’s desire for a net zero project; this was reworked to add a sentence about the town’s aspirations for a 100% electric project that strives to be net zero.

The board designated Colin Laird and Sparhawk to serve as trustees on the selection committee, with Chris Hassig as an alternate. Trustee Marty Silverstein voted against the motion, preferring Lani Kitching due to her experience with RFQs and availability. Schultz’s “ambitious but possible schedule” set the regular meeting on Nov. 15 for a review of top applicants from the committee, which will also include four members of town staff.

Trustees then reappointed current vice chair Nicholas DiFrank to the Planning and Zoning Commission, while choosing Jess Robison to serve as an alternate after interviewing Robison and another applicant, Oscar Carlson. The choice was made partially to diversify the commission, with Robison bringing construction experience into the mix of mostly architects. This went against the recommendation by Planning and Zoning, and Trustee Lani Kitching was the sole dissenting vote.

Asked to give an example of a recent project she considered successful in Carbondale, Robison after some thought spoke to the apartments beside City Market. “It might be controversial, but I think it’s a good mix of affordable and free market,” she said. Explaining that she knows people that live there, it’s walkable with safe routes to school on both sides of Highway 133 and “if we really want affordable housing and to house the people that work here, right next to City Market is probably the best place for it.”

“Most of us were on the board when that was approved, so not too controversial,” Bohmfalk responded.

Finally, the board met with the Parks and Rec Department for an annual check-in. Parks and Rec Director Eric Brendlinger specified that their top goals for 2023 are: 1. a new pool, 2. new park bathrooms, 3. diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and 4. communications.

Regarding the pool, the town’s bond was successfully sold on Sept. 13, coming in ahead of market news costing other bonds basis points equaling some six to nine basis points ($3,000 each).

“It was cool to watch how almost $8 million dollars is made in an hour and a half,” commented Brendlinger, specifying the underwriter will cover the rest of the cost but fundraising will also be necessary.

The bathrooms, meanwhile, have been on the list for updates since 2015 and the past year saw a rash of vandalism which in one incident lit the North Face Park bathroom on fire, rendering it nonfunctional.

Concerning DEI, trustees encouraged the Rec Department to consider feedback from a recent Latino outreach meeting by possibly implementing interpretation and definitely installing at least one piñata pole.

It was announced that Jessi Rochel, after many years with the rec department, has accepted employment as executive director of the Chris Klug Foundation, but will remain involved with the town in some capacity.

“It has been a really awesome opportunity working with the town all these years,” she said, referring to the staff as her “family, community and home over these years” and Brendlinger as “the best boss ever.”

Other actions included: scheduling two additional work sessions to focus on housing solutions (Oct. 3 and Nov. 29); John Williams and Jess Pedersen were also quickly reappointed to the Historic Preservation Commission; public infrastructure at the Thompson Park (parcel 2) was accepted, with 10% of the the original security ($24,327.57) maintained for a one-year warranty period; the town joined the Association of Ski Towns with unanimous support for a $1,820 cost in 2023.