The State of the Great Valley ends with final thoughts on housing, childcare and the economy

Evan Zislis, director of community engagement for the Aspen Institute, speaks at the State of the Grand Valley meeting Sept. 21.
Ray K. Erku / Independent Post

Parachute and Battlement Mesa’s latest meeting on the state of the Grand Valley on Sept. 21 highlighted several ideas for how the two communities can better work cohesively to strengthen housing opportunities, child care and economic development.

The meeting was led by Evan Zislis, director of community engagement at the Aspen Institute. The forty people present were divided into three groups. The groups addressed each of these questions and offered ideas on what they envision for the future of this community.

“Over the past year, your community leaders from Parachute and Battlement Mesa have met regularly to talk about, ‘How can we bring the two communities together to strengthen this part of western Garfield County?’ finally, when we start talking to Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, we are stronger because we are united as Grand Valley.

“What we want to do tonight is bring you into this process.”

One group heard from developers and local officials about two major housing projects that could attract and retain workers and teachers alike.

“There’s no question the need is there,” said Grand Valley Historical Society president Judith Hayward.

There is an effort to build 48 accessible housing units off Battlement Parkway offered by De Beque-based Rising Tides Enterprises LLC. The proposed subdivision is called Halfmoon Village.

Parachute Town Manager speaks about the developments at the State of the Grand Valley meeting on September 21.
Ray K. Erku / Independent Post

There is another effort to convert the Parachute Inn into long-term affordable housing. This project is led by Adam Roy, project engineer and developer at Aspen-based Headwaters Housing Partners.

“We have a plan to convert it into a mix of studio, one and two bedrooms,” he said. “We’re still working out what exactly that mix is.”

People attending the presentations asked if these projects would have any potential restrictions on acts and if rates would be based on the area’s median income.

This discussion of potential projects turned into other local possibilities.

Hannah Klausman sits on the West Mountain Regional Housing Coalition and is also Deputy Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Glenwood Springs.

She said the coalition includes the participation of eight cities. If Parachute and Battlement Mesa join, they might learn more about housing policies and initiatives.

“We are seeking a portion of the grants to kick off our strategic plans on what kinds of affordable housing policies can benefit our communities and our region as a whole,” she said.

She said an example of what the coalition is doing with the funding is looking at a “buyout program.”

“It would be using funds to buy a house at market price as an organization, then putting a deed restriction on it, then flipping it and selling it at a more affordable price,” he said. she stated.

“(It’s) just the concept of buying market rates and then using the financing to fill that gap so that you can sell it at a more accessible or affordable rate for a family in that particular area.”

Communities in Western Garfield County have now held three Grand Valley state meetings since March, and their ultimate goal is to overcome a history wrought by energy booms and busts.

Parachute was officially incorporated in 1908. Battlement Mesa was developed for housing Exxon Mobile employees in the 1970s.

Since then, Garfield County itself has overseen Battlement Mesa, while Parachute is its own standalone entity. The two communities share the same school district, the same parks and recreation department, the same fire district and the same wastewater treatment facilities.

A local Battlement Mesa and Parachute steering committee plans to continue gathering information to officially host Grand Valley-focused meetings next year.


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