I love Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley.
It’s one of the greatest towns on the Western Slope, filled with intelligent, engaged people from all walks of life. The super wealthy to the dirtbag climbers. Anglos to Hispanic, Tall and short people. We have it all.
Our downtown seems to be thriving. Where else but Aspen can you find that every restaurant has amazing food? And if you’ve bothered to spend at least some time engaging with local organizations (Carbondale Arts, KDNK, Youth Zone, etc) you’ll know more than a few people walking down the street or in a local watering hole.
While I am certain that there are several business owners that want to make more money and are quite certain that if they don’t they’ll go under, which in some cases they might. Carbondale, like any town, has a consistent turnover of businesses that either make it or do not. The recent demise of a couple of antique/home furnishings stores seems to say that Carbondale people don’t care for that lifestyle of “furnishings make the home” esthetic. And yes, the differences in downtown population between Friday and Saturday night is perplexing even to me.
There’s always been the complaint that Carbondale is falling behind the times, that we are letting good things through our grasp and giving away the opportunities to our downvalley or upvalley brethren, that we are foolish to think we can fight the big box, that we have to have underwear available for purchase in town.
We have a consistent supply of fresh people who fall in love with us and then want to change us to suit their needs/wants. This will never end. Some will give up in exasperation and move out, the “survivors” will stay and merge into the community, finding that the true joy comes in not what “improvements” need to happen but in volunteering to make real improvements, making the town more livable and enjoyable. Pick an organization! There are so many.
The argument that we are not enough, that our Main Street is too short for commercial success, that commercial “success” means success for everyone is very short sighted. Why do we have to be like everyone else? Why do we have to act like everyone else? We are Carbondale because we don’t tow the line. We are Carbondale because we care about what we become. We have art on virtually every corner. Most of the people I know volunteer for something if not many things. Our leadership is hard at work protecting the rivers, trails, lands and air, a hard job, but they are up to the task!
If Carbondale has any shortsightedness, it’s in that we are still failing to engage the Hispanic population on a meaningful level. It’s understandable in this divisive era of more frequent ICE raids, where even the innocent get caught up, that our Hispanic population would not want to engage locally, so they stay home where they can be invisible and “safe”. This needs to change.
I’ve only been here for 28 years. To say that Carbondale has not changed is to say that you are not paying attention. Our streets crew are excellent at maintenance, they work their butts off. We have a shiny new clinic in town and the much disputed City Market property seems to have broken ground this week. We have excellent trail opportunities for hikers and bikers. We have two rivers to play in and around. Crime is very low, If there are any improvements to be made, I would suggest that we form a stronger fighting force against fracking and mineral development to keep our land, air and waters clean and pure enough for our children to play in. Let Glenwood and Willits have the big box stores, traffic, pollution and big city environment. I can visit them when I need to satisfy my underwear needs.