Participants in Basalt’s “Our Town” planning process sent a clear message during a downtown planning exercise that they want to keep lots of open space.
Participants were asked over the first three weeks of June to vote for their favorite among three visions for development of key parcels downtown. There were 260 ballots cast. The option that keeps the portion of the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park closest to the Roaring Fork River as open space and all of Lions Park as open space received 148 votes of 57 percent, according to town officials. It was known as Option 2 on the ballot.
The option also allows development on the Pan and Fork site closest to Two Rivers Road. That development would include a new home for the Wyly Arts Center.
The option also envisions moving the currently Wyly building as well as Town Hall out of Lions Park and keeping the entire triangular property free of development.
Option 1, which featured development on Lions Park, received 67 votes or 26 percent.
Option 3, which lumped the Pan and Fork site and Lions Park together and moved Two Rivers Road received 44 votes or 17 percent.
“It’s amazing that one of them pulled so far away from the rest,” Town Manager Mike Scanlon said. “The idea of a central park, I think, is taking off.”
Mayor Jacque Whitsitt suggested Basalt might want to keep even more of the Pan and Fork site open, based on what she hears from constituents.
“If we cut off the river as the only river town in the valley, it would be really sad,” she said.
Option 2’s other defining feature was redevelopment of the Phillips 66 gas station and Clark’s Market building. It would include a hotel with underground parking.
The town is going to have architects prepare more detailed drawings of options 1 and 2 and let interested parties vote again in an online survey. A consultant also will be hired to conduct a scientific survey to get a broader collection of opinions.
At the end of the process, the town will have a blueprint for developers to follow if they want expedited reviews.
In a related move, the Town Council approved a resolution to direct its staff to start the process to establish a Urban Renewal Authority. As the downtown development process progresses, there will need to be public amenities.
“In particular, public parking has been identified as an area where the town will likely play a critical role in assisting the community in reaching their vision for the Basalt Downtown area,” said a memo from Scanlon to the council.
The Urban Renewal Authority will have the power to raise funds for public amenities such as parking, trails and plazas.
Scanlon said he would introduce more details about the authority in future meetings.