Death by a thousand Mondays

Is your quaint little mountain town changing too fast? Is it being systematically ruined by the everyday course of actions from your electeds? Save Historic Jackson Hole often thinks so and we’re not alone. (Wait ‘til you hear what Kate Mead said at Monday’s town meeting).

Every day, Save Historic Jackson Hole fights for the preservation of our rural community values, and promotes responsible growth and development.

Why are we necessary?

Take for example Monday, April 18, 2016. One day in the life of town electeds. This Monday’s docket was a veritable minefield of items that blow up this community.

Pole bending or pole dancing?

Taking a break from less pressing matters like LDRs and the great flight of the middleclass to more affordable communities, the town council tackled Adult Entertainment Businesses—a polite euphemism for strip clubs. Where in town do we want them and how close to sensitive areas like schools should we put them? With myriad problems our community faces, this urgent issue took center stage for 45 minutes complete with a debate over whether trees and shrubbery planted to shield the “Girls, Girls, Girls” neon sign from motorists, along with single-occupancy restrooms, would inhibit or promote patrons from “getting it on” right there on premise.

Where is appropriate for strip clubs in Jackson? How about nowhere?

The town says they are simply trying to get out ahead of what could be a Constitutional rights infringement of a future Kit Kat Klub in Jackson. These places are popping up more and more all over the place, town attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis said. Town council appeared comfortable with a 300-foot buffer between strip joints and a school. So in one end zone of a school football field we could have the pep band and cheerleaders, and in the other end zone could be a “Tommy’s Topless Tetons.” Nice.

Budge slide II

Here we go again. Learning nothing from the Budge slide debacle and still having it unfixed and unpaid for, town leaders appear eager to green light more housing on the precarious butte. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

If building 20 affordable housing units on a butte that is still moving every day isn’t ludicrous enough, the council and project developer (Charlie Schwartz and Eric Grove) added a little more challenge to the nightmare by suggesting ingress and egress at the most chaotic intersection in town (the “Y”) would not be that bad. It would be no more difficult trying to turn out of this proposed housing complex than it was when it was Choice Meats or the car rental place, they claimed. In fact, Schwartz said, it would be far less ‘trafficky’ than the 2,538 average daily trips generated when the site was a deli/gas station.


Kate Mead, whose family lives and ranches in Spring Gulch, was beside herself with the absurdity.

“I wanted to cry when I saw this,” Mead began at the meeting where, as a TCSD No. 1 trustee she thought she would be there only to save school kids from G-strings and pasties. “We are effectively ruining this town. And we do it because we think we need to provide everybody with a place to live here. Why are we trying to build housing for employers who don’t want to pay people a sustainable wage in this town?

“Our family has worked diligently as have others across the street from this development. We’ve done conservation easements. Seeing this makes me wonder why the hell we bother. It’s just one thing after another and you start to think why is it that elected officials in this town can’t say, ‘Hey, not everybody can live here.’ I think we are overly enamored with the idea of workforce housing. Come on, you kill the golden goose, eventually. Workforce housing is not that important because people who hire people should house them themselves like we do on our ranches. Do that and we don’t need these big housing developments.”

Regarding the site location and potential traffic hazards of getting in and out of what councilman Don Frank called an “oddball piece of property,” Mead continued to be flabbergasted.

“Eventually you will have so many people in Jackson that Highway 22 will be unmanageable, which it already is. In the summer it is crazy because all the jackasses out of Wilson have to get to the light first, right? I’m really horrified by the intensity of the development [proposed] on this site. And it’s laughable to suggest this is a less intense use than it was before.”

And lastly, Mead could not believe the town was even considering building up on the butte again. She explained her involvement with the Budge Drive litigation as an attorney in town.

“Budge Drive litigation showed that the soils were loam with a clay layer underneath. What a surprise. And our engineers said, ‘Oh yeah, you can continue to take away that hill. You can continue to put stuff up there. It’s going to be just fine.’ This is the same hill, the same butte. I just think it’s something you can say no to.”

Kate Mead
Kate M


There was more. Town planners talked about the desirability of having more AR zoning—places where an accessory dwelling unit could be added on to a garage or something. It’s an admirable and less impactful way of adding housing without beefing up density to the point we have 4-story inner city projects.

The biggest obstacle, though? Various HOA’s and CCR’s will likely supersede anything the town might zone. After all, we talk a good game about wanting and needing things like more housing and better cell phone coverage, as long as it’s not in our backyard.

School officials also came forth to ask to plug into the town’s sewer system at their proposed Hog Island school. Fourth grader’s poopy would have to be piped three miles uphill. The arrangement would save the school district about $600,000 if they had to treat onsite.

The deal would require a potential 10-inch sewer line in order to accommodate expected future growth and neighborhood development around the school. More families will require more day cares, grocery stores, gas stations, strip clubs, and, predictably, more poop pipeline. Town administrator Bob McLaurin said a sewer district should also be created in the new South Jackson/Hog Island town that is sure to spring up around the school.

When councilman Jim Stanford and former politician Pete Jorgenson (who phoned in from Arizona to speak at the meeting) tried to question school district COO Brad Barker on why that location was chosen, Barker said he wasn’t going to engage in that discussion, he was merely there to get his toilet water drained into Jackson’s waste facility plant.

“I thought ‘Town as Heart’ meant that’s where we wanted additional development?” Jorgenson questioned. “This is the opposite of that. This will have huge implications down the line.”

Stanford was the sole no vote when the town agreed to let the school deliver their sh*t. “This is not a done deal. The land has been purchased, but it can also be sold. No construction has begun,” Stanford said. “I’m only bringing this up on behalf of constituents I am hearing from. There are some larger planning issues at stake here.”


Sometimes we pause long enough to look up and we are somehow shocked by what we see. “How did we get here?” we ask ourselves. “What happened to our peaceful little mountain town?”

What happened is a thousand Monday’s like this last one. One by one they add up. The lobster doesn’t even realize the water is getting hotter until it’s boiled to death.