What do you want to happen at Vandaveer?

I think that the Vandaveer property represents a terrific opportunity for the City to support an affordable housing campus. There are lots of acres available that can be used to put in some nice, high density, low frills homes and apartments for our local population. Or the City can make a huge recreation complex with hockey and lacrosse fields and create a Recreation District that will tax City population to build and maintain these amenities. Or they can allow a neighborhood of $500,000 second homes that are empty most of the year. Or they can put aside a few acres for schools that may be needed in the future, assisted living facilities, etc. Most likely the final product will be a mixture of many different uses. But the Board needs input from the public to prioritize what these uses should be, and which ones are most desired by us, the locals who live here and who want to live here in the future.

What do YOU want? Show up this Wednesday and make your voice heard. There is a working Master Plan, but it is not complete by any means. The NRDC board is asking for input, and if you don't show up and tell them what you want, you better believe that someone else is going to. I hope to see you there!

Below is the press release that was in today's Mountain Mail:

NRCDC board hosts second meeting

The Salida Natural Resource Center Development Corp. board will host its second public meeting to talk about the master development plan for Vandaveer Ranch from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Salida SteamPlant, 220 W. Sackett Ave. Participants will be able to give their input on the development, affordable housing, future neighborhoods, industrial and business development, recreation sites and trails. For questions or more information, contact Dara MacDonald, city administrator, at 530-2629 or [email protected]

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  • edited February 2016

    Regarding affordable housing, the plans thus far proposed for Vandaveer might generate approximately 20 units of "affordable" housing, whatever that is. That's it - 20 units. All the fuss and all the energy and all the money for 20 units. And they will have to be built on land requiring further and tremendously expensive infrastructure development.

    If we were to change our building and land use codes, we could make it easier for private property owners to develop smaller units in backyards in town, utilizing existing water, sewer and street infrastructure, and saving us all lot of money on water bills. Instead of an ADU being limited to one unit of 700 ft2, what about 2 ADUs of 350 ft2, with easing of parking requirements? Just an example. And an example that could start happening next year, if we could redirect city staff's energy to making it happen. 20 units and then some would probably crop up pretty quickly.

    Expensive housing is not a Salida problem. It is a nationwide problem. Housing is expensive. The best solution for most people is to make do with less space. Unfortunately, the mortgage interest deduction* for first and second homes as well as other policies have led to construction of homes larger than people would otherwise build, and expectations for space that people would otherwise not have.

    One wonders how much of our present $19 trillion in debt can be attributed to the mortgage interest deduction. I take advantage of it, too. The deduction has undeniably contributed to our debt, and it has spoiled us all to some degree.

    My grandmother ran a boarding house in Coalwood, WV, back in the 50s and 60s. Single persons rented a room and shared toilet and kitchen facilities, as well as parlor room, etc. Somehow we have morphed into a society where we expect or demand that more be provided us.

    Why do we have this expectation? is it warranted? Can it really be met going forward? Should it be met? Do other citizens in other developed industrial nations get what we get? Things to think about.

    Shift gears somewhat.

    Money has to come from somewhere, and if it is spent on a kayak roll pool on Vandaveer (really?), then it is not spent on replacing critical yet crumbling water and sewer infrastructure under Palmer Street.

    It seems as though many people in this town just don't address or accept that reality, nor do they acknowledge the reality that all the great roads we have, all the federal grants we get, all the extra square footage we have built up, all the Medicare benefits we provide, etc, have led us to incredible levels of debt ($19 trillion nationally, $59k per citizen, $158k per taxpayer). The Baby Boomers rode the peak of the wave, and they ran up debt to incredible levels. We have all benefitted, myself included. But many of them don't seem to want to pay it off (or even discuss or think about it) and still have an expectation of more-more-more.

    The piper must be paid at some point, and he's been put off for a very long time. The act of paying will ripple throughout the entire economy and all citizens. It will affect gas taxes, disposable income levels, what people come here, how many of them come here, how they get here, what they will spend here.

    In a world that gets hotter, flatter and more crowded every day, the old rules are breaking down. Yet city staff and some non-resident realtors and businessmen on the NRCDC Board seem hell-bent on developing Vandaveer according to the old rules.

    One non-resident board member of the NRCDC recently pooh-poohed the $19 trillion of national debt, stating that it would have no impact on the NRCDC or Salida or the future rents paid by the USFS. Sure, if he says so. I disagree. If the US Government is ever going to get a balanced budget (and doesn't it have to, at some point?), the USFS will not pay $23 per ft2 per year for the building on Vandaveer. It might shut the thing down, lay off people, and rent 2,000 square feet in town at $13 a square foot when the lease is up in 6 or 7 years.

    Other government agencies will also face belt-tightening. State universities are not building more brick and mortar. They're going electronic. Also, their spending has been propped up by federal student loan programs (here we are back at the issue of $19 trillion in federal national debt). Yet the initial premise of the NRC was that we'd get some state school to come here and build a campus, and state agencies to build fancy new buildings. Maybe they will, but to me it looks like "old rule thinking" not so applicable any more, again in a world that is getting flatter.

    When the majority of the NRCDC Board and City staff recently rebuffed (instead of welcomed) an offer to buy the whole Vandaveer property, and refused to commence negotiations, they kept us on the risk for their own ends and egos. Better private money be on the risk than taxpayer money, IMO.

    It's all connected, but it's easy to ignore the connections. I hope folks will not ignore them and other realities when they think about what to do with Vandaveer.

    Finally, the City should get out of the development business. It's fun for staff ("planners want to plan"), but a city administration should administer, not act as a development corporation funded with precious and finite tax dollars.

    * For those who might not know exactly what the "mortgage interest deduction" is, it allows a homebuyer to deduct from their income all of the interest on their mortgage loan(s) for their primary and second home , for tax purposes. The first 10 or 15 years of payments on such loans are mostly or almost entirely interest, not principal. The interest deduction is a boondoggle for relatively wealthier people with relatively higher incomes. The National Association of Realtors loves it and has lobbied hard to keep it in place.

  • What is the status of the state university building the campus around Salida?

  • I'd like to see it sold to another horse rancher with the proceeds going to pay for our water projects.

  • I don't think the city should be in the housing and property development business. I don't think "tiny" housing should be built. I agree - ranch it!

  • Presently, I would like to be able to go out there for a nice xc ski, and not have a gun pulled on me. And even better, it would be nice if the Salida PD would deal with this kind of issue. Especially when it happens to multiple people in any given day.

  • Hi Jeff_A Regarding: your statement "State universities are not building more brick and mortar." Just FYI - You may not be aware that for at least the last 10 years CSU and CSM have had massive expansion underway in terms of new buildings for research labs, classrooms, CSU vet teaching hospital (coming), dorms, etc. I'm at both campus locations fairly often and am just amazed at their growth.

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