In the last decade, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado have seen a disproportionate spike in the population of its small mountain communities.
This spike has become extremely prevalent in Nederland. Once a free-spirited mountain town, Nederland is showing signs of transforming into an extension of the cities its new bourgeois inhabitants couldn’t afford.
Cheryl Fanelli, owner of Nikki’s Nook and founder of Club Ned, a local cannabis club, is one of many locals worried about the changes occurring in her small town. With good reason too, since Fanelli moved to Nederland in 1988, the town has grown by 50 percent to more than 1,500 residents.
Nederland claims there are now 5,000 residents inhabiting the areas around the town proper, located 8,230 feet above sea level.
“It’s really expensive to live down in Boulder,” Fanelli said. “So those people come up here looking for less expensive options. Those people don’t come here and buy a house because they love it. They come here and buy a house because they couldn’t afford the house down in Boulder, or in Aspen or in Vail.”
The town’s slogan, “life is better up here,” expresses the pride and admiration locals have for the town. However, residents agree that the local government could and should be doing more to coordinate efforts to improve the impacts of gentrification. However, new HOA rules are forcing them to change their ways.
“The people that come up here with that kind of money, they seem to want to change us. They want everything clean, they want the grass cut and they want the dirty people cleaned up and moved out of town. They want us to lose our character, they want us to lose our soul. They want us to be like every other town that you see on every other post card so that they live in homogenous America,” Fanelli said.
As property value and population grows, locals hope that some of the original charm of the town will remain. Only time will tell.