While Mayor Flitner urged support for commuter routes on START bus and other solutions, Councilman Jim Stanford continued to push for worker campgrounds in the valley and blamed Facebook for distorting his position.
Mayor Flitner emotionally spoke to the difficulty that many have in housing their family noting that “the backseat of a car is nowhere for a family to live. I know that our community is facing pressure, but I am going to encourage this council to focus its efforts on permanent long-term solutions for the people who are cleaning our toilets, cleaning our hotel rooms, who are teaching in our schools, a family who I heard from last night at 9PM whose 15-year-old daughter is being asked to drop out of school so she can join the workforce to help pay rent for the studio apartment that 5 people share.
Stanford said, “As I brought this up last year, we cannot pretend the problem doesn’t exist and right now there are a lot of people being squeezed and their only resource is commuting to and from the national forest and I brought it up last year and again several weeks ago for the town and county to look at possible responses by the government for what we were told was a looming crisis of homelessness,” Stanford said. “My only desire was just to simply show some compassion to the people who were being squeezed like that.”
“And everybody seems to automatically assume the worst whenever you bring up camping – last year, if I recall correctly we actually did have some positive discussions here around this table about the idea of a municipal campground and its worked in Lander, its worked in Telluride, it worked in other communities but until we have the discussion, until we can meet with our counterparts at the county and have this discussion, we owe it to those people who are being squeezed, we owe it to the community, in response to some of the public comment, nobody up here said we should have a quote unquote man camp in one of our public parks.” Stanford said. “I personally would support and am asking any of you to see if we could have a discussion with the county commissioners about looking at some of the places here we have a little bit more room, in the rural parts of our community, where we might, working with the private sector be able to establish some sort of a campground, maybe the private sector takes the lead.”
Mayor Flitner said, “I don’t see viable safe options in the Town of Jackson.” Flitner said she was working through different housing options like manufactured homes that would be safer than camping and would offer a more compassionate response.