The Carbondale Chamber’s annual Business Confluence took place on Sept. 20 inside the Thunder River Theatre — an appropriate setting for a town that prides itself on creative enterprises. Photo by Raleigh Burleigh

Tuesday’s meeting, Sept. 26, saw all trustees in attendance.

The consent agenda included accounts payable, approval of previous meeting minutes, a liquor license renewal for Allegria, the amended Path to Net Zero for Existing Buildings plan and appointment of Mark Mahoney to the Historic Preservation Commission.

Trustee Chris Hassig requested that the minutes from the regular meeting on Aug. 22 be pulled so that more detail can be added, specifically names of members of the public that spoke up during the U.S. Forest Service’s redevelopment plan discussion.

“To me, this represents the citizenry’s one chance to be put in the permanent record with their opinions and have that in written form,” he said.

Town Clerk Jessica Markham said she may inevitably spell some names wrong, to which Mayor Ben Bohmfalk suggested a sign-in sheet be implemented for public comments going forward. Bohmfalk also requested to make it clear in those same meeting minutes that the stable building discussion was resolved without a commitment from the trustees.

During public comments, Toni Kronberg thanked the trustees for moving forward with a new pool facility that has varying water depths and temperatures. Rachel Hahn requested that something be done to reduce speeding on 8th Street between the Latigo Loop stop sign and Weaver Cemetery stop sign.

John Williams, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, then asked that a letter be approved by trustees to send to U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper outlining concerns with the U.S. Forest Service’s process for local redevelopment planning. “We don’t think there’s been proper protocol handled by the Forest Service for public outreach and comments,” he said, referring specifically to a categorical exclusion that downplayed the impacts and premempted public participation. Williams added that efforts to save the stable are “dead in the water” with proposals to move it to Sopris Park or the rodeo grounds both shot down.

“I think the letter is justified and I would support putting it on the agenda,” said Hassig.

“I want to remind us the project has already gone out to bid,” responded Bohmfalk. “I want to be sensitive to our relationship with the Forest Service, and calling on our senators to stop them on a project in our town is a pretty bold move, so I want to proceed with caution.”

Trustee Colin Laird agreed with putting the letter on an agenda, but it did not receive the necessary third vote for that to happen. Trustee Erica Sparhawk mentioned a draft letter she composed with an emphasis on beneficial electrification and other elements the town could back up. Her letter was yet not circulated.

Moving on with the sole action item of the evening, Mountain Waste & Recycling, the Town’s single hauler for trash services, requested to increase residential curbside service rates by 3.9% for customers effective Oct. 1. The increase was unanimously approved and will be seen on November utility bills.

Doug Goldsmith, representing Mountain Waste & Recycling, also took time to highlight that Carbondale’s diversion rate for trash is 29%, “in the middle of the highest levels in the state.” With other factors figured in, it will be over 35%, “a spectacular number,” he said. Trustees touted the app which provides alerts for service days and waste diversion tips.

The meeting concluded with two arts-related presentations. First, Carbondale Arts Executive Director Jamie Abbott and Community Engagement Director Michael Stout talked about the Carbondale Creative District, which exists under the umbrella of Carbondale Arts. They announced that beginning next year, the Creative District will take over orchestrating First Friday events from the Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve come to realize that the Carbondale Chamber and the Creative District are two parts to one really important whole for Carbondale’s economic development picture,” Abbott told the trustees. The transition in First Friday leadership has been in dialogue for a year, Abbott said, and won’t bring drastic changes. However, “we want to grow the impact for local businesses by actively engaging them in promotions and offerings,” she added.

The pair requested $15,000 for the Creative District in next year’s budget, up from $12,000 this year, and $15,000 for First Friday programming, compared to $10,000 received by the Chamber in 2023.

Stout presented on impacts of the Creative District and a statewide perspective. The purpose of Colorado Creative Industries (the state agency that designated the Creative District) is to support economic development, he said, “especially in communities where extraction-based economies have been dominant.” He gave data from the Creative Vitality Index which shows that Basalt and Glenwood Springs are making strides for increasing creative industry jobs and revenue, while Carbondale has recently remained steady.

Part of the Creative District’s ask, Stout said, could help fund access to software, which uses cell phone data to track people’s movement and could give a better idea of where visitors are coming from during Mountain Fair, for example, or how much business is boosted at any given restaurant during a specific event. This information could then help leverage outside funding through grants.

Stout stuck around to next represent the Carbondale Public Arts Commission, which is not looking for a budget increase. In order to improve participation in the Art Around Town program, the commission is considering a $250 travel stipend for non-local artists that have a sculpture accepted, in addition to the $1,000 honorarium. Another consideration is to allow artists to submit multiple pieces and be accepted for up to four.

In addition to five new walls for murals at the storage facility under construction along Highway 133, there will be three sculpture bases. One-percent of gross revenue from the new storage facility is designated to maintain or purchase public art. Trustees expressed support for a public art acquisition proposal making use of those funds.