Come, Work, Camp…(tent not provided)


We will be watching with great interest this afternoon’s town workshop where discussion will take place about creating possible camping areas for Jackson’s peon workforce.

Councilman Jim Stanford has led the charge to create temporary man camps where 90-day wonders could come and toast marshmallows around the campfire in between their shifts schlepping food and folding sheets for tourists.

These labor camps have been proposed at various public parks, including Phil Baux Park, Miller Park, and Powderhorn Park. There is also slated for discussion the possibility of using Karns Meadow as place to plop as many as 150 tent sites.

Tent city

Really? This is where we are headed?

Instead of turning to government for expensive and radical solutions to our housing crisis, perhaps we should step back and take a hard look at what kind of labor force it takes to support our current lifestyle and economy in Jackson Hole. Maybe we should learn—as a lot of Americans have had to—to live within our means. Sure, we are the wealthiest county in the nation measured by the almighty dollar, but what of the dismal state of our labor capital?

If we can’t support a bountiful summer season of tourism—if we can’t staff the hotels and restaurants, keep traffic moving, and pay for the public services demanded—maybe we should go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves some deeper questions. We can’t go on like this.

Private citizens in South Park said they don’t want to live next to more housing. Private citizens in JH Golf & Tennis said they don’t want to live next to more housing. Private citizens near the Bar J Wrangler property said they don’t want to live next to more housing.

Fine, that’s their right as a property owner. But our rights as “The Public” is to have our parks be parks. Places of refuge where we can escape the big city rush and trade concrete for grass. Guess what? We don’t want major employers’ workers living on “our” land either. That’s not a solution. Either pay them more or house them.

And it’s doubtful the Karns family envisioned their beloved meadow would become the home of a bus depot and then a labor camp. They sold Karns Meadow to the town for pennies on the dollar with the understanding that it would be forever protected. Now the town is contemplating buying their way out of that conservation deal.

It is a sad and dire state of affairs when these types of drastic measures are proposed. We can’t just keep flogging the oxen. At some point we need to take responsibility for the boundless greed and growth machine we’ve created.

Enough will never be enough for some. It’s time to step off this treadmill and stop this madness.

To be clear, Save Historic is not opposed to personal opinions and private property rights. We respect any individual’s right to maintain/retain their property value. Proposed housing solutions and developments should have to adhere to the expressed desires of the community as stated in the 2012 Comp Plan and governed by current land development regulations with respect to wildlife, natural resources, and areas where denser housing has been zoned appropriate. 

Our intent is simply to point out instances that underscore the obvious: We are a community at maximum carrying capacity. Building and bussing our way out of our housing problems is not a solution.